|Rory Gilmore in 'Spring'|
When I first fell in love with 'Gilmore Girls', people would ask me who my favourite character was.
"Lorelai Gilmore." I would say, without an ounce of uncertainty.
Under all my certainty, however, something was brewing. Eventually it would surface, and I would realise that the reason I didn't fully love Rory Gilmore was because I almost saw too much of myself in her, something I held back on fully acknowledging till I made my first Gilmore fan video (It's here, btw. Rory Gilmore to The Sun is Rising).
Then the revival happened. It's hilarious. I took ages to fully articulate my opinion on Rory Gilmore and then the revival took my mind map of opinions and completely scattered them, and now I'm back at square one, trying to sort my complicated thoughts on Rory Gilmore.
I've done my research, had in-depth discussions with friends, participated in social media conversations.
The simplest way to describe my feelings post-revival watch?
#RorysHuman and makes mistakes, but I expected better of her. I expected to understand her.
Before I get to the revival, I want to address the Rory Gilmore which appeared on screen 16 years ago. I want to thank Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino for creating a character who was unafraid of being intelligent and having ambition. I want to thank them for creating a character who was incredibly flawed, but was still fundamentally a good person - and I want to thank them for creating a character which helped me learn to defend myself, my choices and above all, understand and process my own story.
This isn't to say Rory is perfect, but every single decision she made in the original series felt honest, and reflective of who Rory Gilmore was. She was a human being who was idealised by her town, who had a great relationship with her mother that was underpinned by Lorelai's grand expectations of her but who was never the perfect human being people claimed her to be. To me, she represented the fallacy of role models. But here's the personal dilemma.
For all my beliefs that we can't expect role models out of our television characters, out of the human beings we share the world with - Rory Gilmore became my accidental role model.
There was no moment I announced this to the world, or had a sudden realisation. It happened without intention - falling into place as Rory Gilmore reflected too much of myself for me to let negative comments about her slide without at least brief discussion.
I didn't love all of Rory's actions, but I pushed myself to understand her when I didn't agree with her, and realised that some of the reasoning and feelings surrounding her decision were far too close for comfort.
Then the revival happened - and suddenly, the character I thought I understood so strongly essentially evaporated before my eyes. Maybe that's not what happened though. Maybe I stopped seeing myself in her.
I'm currently Rory at the end of Season 6 (barring the serious relationship, long distance or otherwise) - the one whose college life is finally making sense even if there's several chinks to sort out. I'm not the Rory who is struggling to make ends meet as a journalist, and I'm certainly not a student who chose her degree based on an 18 year ambition.
Rory Gilmore, aged 32, is rootless and aimless as she scatters from one story to the next, one country to another - dealing with the reality of the changing nature of journalism and her love life is a disaster too.
Rory's never been someone who's thrived off the single life. Her one single stint in the original series left her running back to her hometown - clinging to her first love who made her feel 'safe', even though he's married. It's selfish, and a poor choice - but one that fits Rory's character. Her tendency to create pro-con lists is presumably tied to her awareness she makes poor decisions on feelings alone, and her fear of disappointing people manifests itself as she clings to the one person who she feels hasn't judged her. (Dean did break up with Rory, but the whole 'I love you' thing seems to be something she's taken responsibility for and even when Dean breaks up with her over Jess, Rory is too overwhelmed with guilt to consider how much is his fault. Lorelai, on the other hand, has highlighted her love for Dean and his feelings - often making Rory storm off.)
She's never been someone who knew how to pick herself up when her career was crumbling too. After Rory runs off to Europe the first summer after college, she loses valuable 'career building' time - and this just becomes an issue when Rory meets Mitchum Huntzberger and accepts his internship. When Mitchum tells her she doesn't have 'it', it becomes clear that Rory has pinned everything on this potential break. Without any other professional experience, Rory's self-doubts ravage her - and she engages in destructive behaviour before dropping out of Yale. The decision to drop out is a reality - one that is played out correctly, and makes perfect sense in context of Rory's upbringing and lack of tests of her resilience. It's one I defend to the end of time, because aimlessness is an issue that can't necessarily be resolved while taking expensive classes at a prestigious college.
But even then, I remember struggling to understand Rory as she embraced a life of privilege and frivolous parties without considering if there was something else she wanted.
In the revival, it hit me. Rory likes the hedonistic lifestyle and the parties, and the world Lorelai didn't raise her in. Lorelai may have raised her modestly, but because she wasn't suffocated by it - she likes letting herself go through the wild adventures of the Life & Death Brigade. It's her version of freedom - away from responsibility and her ambitions. Unlike Lorelai, she hasn't had a terrible schooling experience where she wasn't considered a Gilmore. Rory's caught up in the 'mean girl' world, but one of privilege - where students chase the valedictorian position rather than a queen bee status which expires after high school. The valedictorian position for Rory was supposed to be a foreshadowing of sorts, an indication of the success Rory was supposed to have - the life that Lorelai wanted her to have - and the life that Rory fails to achieve when she's hit 32. And while that's totally normal - especially in creative industries - it's not for Rory. The expectations for her were higher - both in Stars Hollow and in the Gilmore clan.
The only problem? I had to learn to reconcile this with the Rory Gilmore I had formulated in my mind. She's not me, and I had to shake that perception. I have now. So, I guess it's time to discuss the Rory Gilmore I didn't really want to notice the first time round, and probably the reality that Rory's moral compass isn't as calibrated as I expected (or wanted).
Rory is the 'other woman' in the revival. (Note: I will not mention Paul at all in this analysis. Reason? He was written as a joke and as much as I hate the joke, I don't think it was ever intended to be a comment on Rory's character, so it's hard to include.) Sometime between 2007 and 2016, Logan and Rory reconnected in Hamburg, while Rory was wearing her lucky red dress, The twist? Logan is engaged to a French heiress named Odette. Was I gutted when I found out? Absolutely.
I was angry.
"How could Rory be the other woman again?! Why does she care more about being treated like a mistress than actually being one?! Why does Rory not feel an ounce of guilt? Is she really that disrespectful?!" I muttered to myself during the early hours of November 26.
I wish I could say I found a way around it. I wish I could say I love Rory now, and I'll defend her wholeheartedly for her decisions. I haven't.
I don't believe Rory's flailing career is enough of an justification of her choice to be apart of this appalling arrangement. But I do believe it's an explanation. Rory isn't together when she's single. Her independence is fundamentally tied to having a partner of some kind, someone to vent to or share her successes - because her goal of Harvard was cultivated in her when she was young. Her ambitions are rooted in Lorelai's expectation of her - and as a result, she struggles to motivate herself without someone on her shoulder. In Rory's mind, what better person than the one that exposed her to the world beyond Stars Hollow? What better person than the one who validated Rory's need to take risks and showed her freedom in ways she hadn't imagined?
Is it behaviour she should be engaging in? No. Will I continue disliking this of her? Probably. But here's the thing - selfishness can make you do shitty things. Selfishness puts your needs above others, whether it be their goals or their commitments. And Rory can be selfish.
I think it's about time we shed the belief that Rory was ever perfect. She was never perfect. There was absolutely no indication she was - and holding her to that expectation is detrimental to even attempting to understand Rory.
Rory is human. Perhaps she's not a good person in many of your eyes and that's entirely up to you, but there are parts of me who still believes that she's a good person. I haven't been able to figure out what Rory I'm analysing, but taking the time to view things from Rory's perspective has allowed me to see her humanity.
Do I still love her? I guess time will tell.
It doesn't really matter though. I'm not telling you to love her. I'm just reminding you all (and myself) that Rory is human.