Earlier, when I wrote my commentary on Rory Gilmore’s storyline, I talks with some fans in online commentary about my hypothesis that Rory had already spent her trust fund. In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we see Rory leading what appears to be a global lifestyle. She had an apartment in New York that she rarely used, instead spending her time flying around the world chasing stories. Few of which were published.
In the 9 years since Rory graduated from Yale, she didn’t appear to have many sources of income. Certainly she would have been paid a consistent salary while on Obama’s campaign trail, but after that she seems to have led the life of a freelance journalist. This means she’s only paid when she writes a story. And would that pay check even cover the cost of her current lifestyle? My guess is no.
I myself am a freelance writer, and quite a successful one. I write mostly corporate content, but I write every day. As a freelance journalist, Rory would need to be writing regularly. She would not be given a travel budget or an expense account. And single bylines in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, or GQ would not be enough to support a modest living (and clearly Rory is not living modestly). As you know, I took issue with Rory’s drive, as she showed very little understanding of what it takes to be a writer for a living.
And that’s the key. I think Rory was pursuing her passion as a writer, fully funded by her trust fund. Writing didn’t have to pay her way, and so the pressure to succeed was different. Rory had the financial backing to “wait” for the right pitch to land in her lap or to be picky about her stories. To write what she wanted and only when she wanted. Sometimes that worked. More often, it did not. As Vulture has pointed out, this made Rory a bad journalist, even if she wasn’t technically a bad writer.
So, did Rory have a trust fund? You bet. It’s just a matter of from whom and how much. Richard Gilmore said in season 6 that Rory had a trust fund, but the amount is unspecified. Perhaps it was the trust fund from Trix (Richard’s mother) that was possibly still on the table. It could also be a trust fund that was always in her name, care of the Gilmores. If her trust fund was modest, under $300,000, she could easily have spent that in 9 years on airfare, hotels, dining out, her New York apartment, etc. Clearly she flew to London often and rarely stayed for long.
The Rory we meet now is broke. She has no money. And yet she accepts a job at the Stars Hollow Gazette for… no money. It’s clear to me that Rory isn’t used to having to pay her own bills based on the work she does. I truly believe she’s spent anything she was left, but so recently that she doesn’t truly understand what that could mean.
But is Rory truly broke? I doubt it. We are not told, but my guess is she was left a sizeable sum from Richard Gilmore. Her dad, Christopher, is also quite wealthy. Given the cliffhanger of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, she may even have some support coming her way from Logan. And we know her book will succeed, perhaps her first independent financial success.
At the end of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we are told that Rory has come “full circle” back to where Lorelai began. In some ways, that’s true. In other very important ways, it is not. Rory is not penniless, despite what we are told. She has not separated herself from her family (and their ample support) the way that Lorelai did. Her path forward will not be paved with the same struggles.
What do you think?