How I Finally Fell Out Of Love With Gilmore Girls

On the 20th anniversary of the iconic US series, superfan Guy Pewsey is saying goodbye to Lorelei and Rory.

Gilmore Girls

by grazia |
Updated on

For twenty years, I have been a huge fan of Gilmore Girls. The American series - following a flighty single mum raising her intelligent and adorably precocious - used to air on E4, and it got me hook line and sinker. I adored Lorelei - the mother - who was successful and assertive, but also zany and unpredictable. Most importantly, she treated her daughter - Rory: sensible, diligent but prone to Lorelei-like flights of fancy - as an equal. For teens struggling to find their voice, their place in the world, perhaps rebelling against strict or uninterested parents, Lorelei was the perfect parent.

I have rewatched the show again and again. I have chuckled at every withering line from Emily Bishop, Lorelei's WASPish mum. I have loathed, then loved, Paris Geller, Rory's nemisis-turned-ally. I have debated if I am Team Dean or Team Jess (not Logan. never Logan). And I have longed for Lorelei to finally, finally allow herself to realise that Luke, always Luke, was the great love of her life. So obsessed was I with the buzzing comings and goings of these two women and the population of their town, Stars Hollow, that I took a day off work to consume 2016's reunion series - A Year In The Life - sitting on my friend Hannah's floor for the six hour run-time, screaming with every cameo, twist and that final revelation. We gorged on pizza and drank Rory cocktails (yes, they are a thing.) I was devoted.

Then, lockdown happened. I watched many of the new shows people were raving about - Tiger King, Unorthodox, Normal People - but I also found solace in the classics. I rewatched episodes of Friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even Jonathan Creek. And then, as the pandemic showed no sign of dissipating, and in need of a hug from my dear, fictional friends, I returned to Stars Hollow.

Something was wrong. It was as if I was watching a different show. Previously, when Lorelei decides she simply couldn't resist the charms of Max - Lorelei's English teacher - I applauded her for following her heart even when it was deemed inappropriate. When she then jilts him at the altar, I cheered her on. 'No one can tie Lorelei down!' I proclaimed internally. She is an effervescent cloud, going where the wind takes her. But on the rewatch, I found her selfish to the point of genuine cruelty. It is one thing to change your mind about marriage. It is quite another to abandon a man at the last minute, disappearing and leaving him humiliated. Lorelei is a coward.

Before 2020, I took great pleasure in Lorelei's back-and-forth with her mother. Lorelei had fled a stifled life, flying from her gilded cage, and built her new one from scratch, all alone. Her mother, sharp, cutting and glamorous, just didn't understand that. Actress Kelly Bishop is perfect as Emily. She can do more with a look than most can do with their whole bodies. But, suddenly, I wasn't on Lorelei's side anymore. She rolled her eyes in disdain every time she walked through the door of her parents' elegant home, always annoyed at being there, always begrudging. But the visit was a pretty reasonable and simple condition of a pretty massive loan. A side effect of which was Rory building a truly healthy relationship with her grandparents that served her rather well for the rest of her young life.

Until now, I had observed Stars Hollow and its people through Lorelei and Rory's viewpoint. They love being part of the town - they love its people. But they also view them as idiots, as simple folk, as comic sidekicks to their more important, more intellectual pursuits. Kirk. Miss Patty. Mrs Kim. Taylor Doose. Babette. They are all figures of fun. Yes, Lorelei and Rory feel genuine affection toward them, but they do not respect them. Nor do they respect their true friends. Lorelei rarely treats Sookie - her supposed best friend played by a pre-Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy - as anything other than a sheepdog to be played with and entertained until she finds something more important to busy herself with. Rory's best friend Lane is all-but-discarded when she moves to private school.

So what happened? Friends had often pointed out these flaws before, but I was deaf to them. But I have a theory. I got old.

Not 'old', per se. More like 32, the age I turned this year. That might sound silly, but it's a significant age. It is the age Lorelei is when Gilmore Girls begins. Rewatching it this year, it suddenly hit me that this woman is indeed fun and cool and independent. But she is also an adult. Her decisions aren't funny in their obliviousness. They are harmful and ignorant. Reaching Lorelei's age and, indeed, the age Rory is at the end of the reunion show's completion, may have forced me to look inward, analysing Lorelei's choices as if they were suddenly mine. When you do that - when you see yourself in this person's choices - then Lorelei automatically seems contemptible.

It makes me sad. Starting a Gilmore Girls rewatch used to be a new dawn. It never failed to cheer me up. Lorelei and Rory felt like friends, like sisters, like partners in crime. I have gone through many experiences - especially in my journalism career - and thought 'this is just like what happened to Rory.' When I met Christiane Amanpour at a US election party in November 2016, we didn't talk about Trump. We talked about Rory Gilmore. Now, I can't make it beyond season 2. For the first time in my life, I switched off an episode of Gilmore Girls before it finished.

Maybe I'll get back to it one day. Maybe Lorelei can win me back with her smile, her appetite and her joie de vivre. Maybe I'm just caught in a lockdown fog that cannot be cleared by her unique way of life. But for now, the love affair is over. I am grateful - to her, to Rory, and to the show's creator Amy Sherman-Palladino - for seeing me through two decades. And ultimately, at least, we'll always have Stars Hollow.

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