Was Rory Praised Too Much?

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I’ve written at length about my own dissatisfaction with the storyline presented for Rory. And it’s about more than storyline, it’s about being presented with a character who, when presented with difficulties, continues to live as if waiting for her next success to land in her lap instead of working for it. Amy Sherman-Palladino defends Rory’s issues as temporary, but perhaps they are more widespread based on how she was raised.

“She was in denial about what her career was, in denial that her living situation was less than delightful and in denial about what her romantic life was. Some people go through times in their lives when they don’t make the best choices. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just means that’s a particularly weird time that they’re going through and later on, when they’re old, they can sit there and go, ‘Wow, I was kind of a dick for those six months.'”

An article on Bustle talks about this, bringing up the idea that during the year, we are presented with a Rory who is having a bad year, with everyone ladling on the praise to remind us that she did have success. And yet, as Bustle points out, it’s not nice to be told something, but rather to see it. And we didn’t see a successful Rory. 

What’s more, as the article hints at, the empty praise points at the potential problem with Rory. While I agree that Rory did indeed become a character of entitlement, loving her jet-setting lifestyle (likely blowing through her trust fund to make it happen), expecting a life of entertainment (hello, Life & Death Brigade) and ease. Back in Stars Hollow, she was always clear to explain it was temporary. Like she was, in some way, too good for Stars Hollow. 

The article hit me with one sentence:  “It’s not really Rory I’m mad at, it’s the people who incessantly tell her — and viewers — how great she is.” And here, I want to diverge from the Bustle piece and examine this from a perspective of parenting. 

Rory was born to a young mother who raised her as a friend. In many ways, Rory was the baby of Stars Hollow, with the whole town binding together to be her family. She was spoiled in so many ways, but praise most of all. Although you could interpret this as the beginning of “entitlement,” I would suggest this is not just an issue that affects Rory. There are a whole generation of kids brought up being taught they could do anything or be anything, all because they are special. There was a generational shift in parenting that focused on praise for the individual over praise for hard work. 

Rory was a part of the over-praised generation, made perhaps worse by the additional praise of all of Stars Hollow coupled with the Gilmore money and name, which gave her ego an even bigger boost. As many articles have pointed out, in the workforce this is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Workers require constant ego stroking just for showing up, not for the work they do. They expect praise and don’t know how to function without it. If they don’t get enough, they leave. 

So, is Rory a victim of an over-praised generation? Unable to find her own future because the praise isn’t magically translating into opportunities landing in her lap? Unequipped to fight for her own future because people keep ladling on the praise?

What do you think?

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14 thoughts on “Was Rory Praised Too Much?

  • December 18, 2016 at 10:45 pm
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    To me the question of whether Rory was set up to fail by being overly praised on her way up through the school system is a bit of a “red herring”. Since we initially pick up her storyline when she is 16 and is characterized as highly intelligent, it is reasonable to expect that she would know how to tell the difference between praise coming from people who know her work well enough to provide useful feedback [Max, HMC] and those who are merely acting like cheerleaders or good friends [Lane, Dean, even Lorelai]. In fact all the “that-a-girls” she receives from the townies and even the grandparents would probably put additional pressure on her to succeed to justify their expectations. Only she knows the amount of effort required to earn her results and with that should come the ability to self-evaluate where she stands.

    And it is this last fact that always bothered me about the sloppy way the character was written. Whether it was the poor paper resulting in having to drop a course when she thought the work was exceptional, or thinking her paper for Prof Fleming stunk when he thought it was a treasure, she oftentimes seemed to be clueless as to the quality of her work. And we see the same thing with the initial YDN efforts and the internship with Mitchem. That seemed unrealistic for an intelligent person, but we were always willing to suspend disbelief as it added some drama to the storyline and we liked the character, always expecting after working her away around some roadblocks and professional competition that she would come out OK… and she still might.

    Of course none of us have spent the last three decades as high-level professional television writers so we don’t have the up-close and personal view of the dark competitive underbelly of the that specific industry or probably even journalism in general where even if you catch lightning in a bottle, you never are more than a phone call away from starting over again. One wonders how much of this initial roasting of Rory mirrors the Palladino’s own professional paths??

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    • December 22, 2016 at 12:21 am
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      Exactly. Thank you.

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  • December 19, 2016 at 7:15 am
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    You people are going nuts. It is not real ! Not every story ends well. Maybe that’s the lesson.

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  • December 19, 2016 at 9:23 am
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    I HAVE BEEN A FAN OF WHAT I CONSIDER ONE OF THE MOST WELL WRITTEN TV SERIES IN A VERY LONG TIME–AND…HAVING SAID THAT…I HAVE TO SAY I WAS LEFT FEELING FLAT…DISAPIONTED AFTER WATCHING THE NEW SEQUEL…I DO NOT FEEL THE WRITERS WERE TRUE TO THE RORY CHARACTERS JOURNEY…IT FELT EMPTY AND DISJOINTED…NO CONTINUITY…and some of.the sureal scenes added to the Rory character with her old bf Logan and friends were completely oit of.place./overdone/disjionted-unecessary….the writers NEEEEED to get back to being more faithfull to the origional characters and story line…and present a more realistic/practical evolution of the characters lives….but… I it was nice.seeing them all on screen again…like. bumping into.old.friends-pleasant.

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    • January 2, 2017 at 3:54 am
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      Exactly how I felt, but could not express. Thank you.

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  • December 19, 2016 at 2:01 pm
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    So, is Rory a victim of an over-praised generation? Unable to find her own future because the praise isn’t magically translating into opportunities landing in her lap? Unequipped to fight for her own future because people keep ladling on the praise?

    I didn’t feel that she was in the original series, although she occasionally headed that way. I felt her journey in the first three seasons went from the rocky start (that important test she missed because of the deer) to acceptances at all the universities plus Valedictorian. I felt she got there mostly through her own efforts. Similarly, when Jess pops up in season six and asks her why she dropped out “this isn’t you”, whilst he’s the wake-up call, Rory is the one that puts herself back together. That said, neither Max nor Jess praise her and maybe it’s the “why aren’t you doing better” approach that works best.

    However, she did seem more passive towards the end. First her grandparents – and then Logan – laid on a great life of wealth and connections and she did sometimes seem a little too keen on just accepting it rather than keeping an awareness of how privileged she is. Also, when she and Logan row after Jess leaves at the bar in season six – she does seem to be almost blind to her own advantages, whilst yelling at Logan about his own.

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  • December 19, 2016 at 3:34 pm
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    She’s a fictional character! She was written that way. She was not praised too much as a child because she isn’t real. Although I do agree with your point that a whole generation of kids are being over praised.

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  • December 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm
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    Agreed! She isn’t real. She is following a script. It’s not the same because she isn’t the same. I do agree that kids get more praise for doing what they should. Hard work is good for kids but isn’t expected.

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  • December 20, 2016 at 3:09 am
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    I loved seeing everyone again and would love to continue to watch everyone’s lives…not just Rory’s, unfold. The lovely thing about Stars Hollow is that we all care about everyone…even Taylor and Mrs. Kim, who weren’t favored initially. To answer the deeper question…Rory is a person who, like many young people, flounders professionally until she is able to become more grounded in her personal journey. I believe that the Rorys of life will not be truly successful, even if they experience temporary success, until they have settled the issue of with whom they are to spend their lives, or if they are going it alone with contentment. Until it is settled, the issue is like the long note of a violin piece, the bow continually riding the circuit of the string until the piece resolves. We saw it for Lorelei. It took too long for her. Please don’t do that to Rory!! And please replace Suki! She was adorable, but obviously Melissa Macarthy’s heart is not in the role, or she wouldn’t have required an ungodly sum of money for a tiny cameo. No one is irreplaceable. Find another Sweetheart of a Friend…maybe one for Rory, who should join her Mom and eventually take over the Dragonfly someday…

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  • December 20, 2016 at 7:49 am
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    I think it’s not her fault. She grew up being told how great she was, but no one (not even Lorelai) told her that was not enough. You can be smart and have a diploma from an Ivy-League school – that does not give you a job. No one told Rory that and she found out the hard way: getting doors clsed on her face. She made bad choices when that happened, but it doesn’t mean she is a bad person. If anything, I believe what happened to her during the revival is gonna put her on a path that it’s gonna stick. She will pick something and go along with that.

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  • December 20, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    It felt to me like Amy wanted to tell a certain story, and told the story of a 22 yr-old Rory rather than 32. She doesn’t seem to have grown at all as a character. She’s pathetically clinging to a man who won’t respect her. I enjoyed Lorelai, but disliked Rory in the revival. :(

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  • December 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm
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    There seems to be an underlying theme among the respondents that the possibility of failure was a concept that Rory had been shielded from on her way through school and into the workforce. Not sure that is particularly accurate. On the first day of Chilton, the old HMC pointed out that she was significantly behind and would have to really bust her butt to catch up to all the students already highly successful and acclimated to the competitive nature of prep school. On the joy ride with Jess, he pointed out that her dream job would require an incredible amount of physical, emotional, and intellectual grit for her to succeed and not just happen because that was what she wanted. When the college recruiters dropped by Chilton, they inadvertently pointed out the flaws in her assumptions for how little it would take to distinguish herself from her peers [best grades and test scores, and an obvious essay] and be accepted to the college of her choice. In her first year at Yale, she had to drop a course to maintain a reasonable GPA. In the internship with Mitchem she found out that merely being competent and well liked was insufficient to move into the upper tier of prospective workforce candidates.

    It seems like the only time she really got in gear was in competitive situations where she got to enjoy [almost perversely so and much like her Mom] showing people that they were underestimating her, whether it was Paris at Chilton or Logan, Mitchem and the YDN staff during her Yale time. And maybe that was part of the problem. After completing college, she still needed someone specific against whom to measure herself and compete against who was no longer there. Now it was just a nebulous pool of unknown competition, thus eroding her motivation and focus with each successive “nope, not interested” from prospective employers who never really explain the whys to the no and thus allowing her to slip through the cracks as time frittered away.

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  • December 22, 2016 at 8:01 am
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    Just now I realized the meaning of the song “where you lead I will follow” – it talks about the circle of life – like – no matter where u go and where u hide u wont be able to escape my personality trades and my destiny (Emily -> lorelai -> Rory)

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  • January 2, 2017 at 9:53 am
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    Our lives are the choices we make and this is true for Rory’s character in the reunion. But more than this, every story needs TENSION. And I think this was the key reason for the streak of failures in Rory’s personal life during the reunion episodes. The tension in the plot leaves us wanting more and wanting Rory to succeed. As for the viewer, we have had one role from the days of Chilton to the end of the series and that was to root for Rory’s success!

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