By Abby Delk
My roommates and I have a big chalkboard in our living room, where we sometimes write notes to each other. Because of COVID-19, there aren’t a lot of events we need to remind ourselves of, so we’ve instead used most of the board to keep track of important things going on in our apartment. We have a running tally of how many bugs we’ve killed (they are everywhere, and we are definitely losing the battle), but they have also created a tally called “Abbey Hates Women.” I object to the existence of this ongoing tally, but they insist that it stays on our board for all to see. I have become the resident sexist in our apartment of four women, and it is a label I cannot seem to shake.
To clarify, I do not hate women. I just hate two women: Lorelai and Rory Gilmore of the classic sitcom Gilmore Girls. These two create a fiery fury in my heart in a way that other loathsome television characters–Jenny Humphrey of Gossip Girl, Will Schuester of Glee, the entire cast of Friends–cannot quite evoke in the same way. I am not entirely alone in this. I googled “most hated TV characters,” and Rory Gilmore appears on several lists. I don’t want to claim that Gilmore Girls, as a whole, is a terrible show. It’s not, and there is a lot about it that I honestly enjoy. But its two main characters? Ick.
To be perfectly honest, I have not watched all of Gilmore Girls. I don’t have the time nor the patience for all that. I have Zoom classes to attend and TikToks to watch. But I’ve watched several seasons with my roommates, so I at least understand the general vibe of the show. If I wildly mischaracterize any plot points, please write a strongly worded letter to this publication’s editors. I’m sure they’ll treat your complaint very seriously.
So let’s start with the easy target. Rory Gilmore is supposed to be this sort of “every girl” type character that female viewers can relate to and look up to as an example of a driven and smart woman. But she kind of…sucks? If I had to describe her defining character trait, it would be whiny. She never seems to want to do anything except read and complain about her boy problems (which are often her fault), and she usually has to be coerced into doing anything fun. During her first week of college, she wants to stay in to read instead of going to parties or hanging out with new people. I’m not saying she needs to be a party animal, but she is definitely the party pooper of the century and tries to police how much fun others around her are having.
Rory is also kind of a bad person. She skips her mom’s college graduation to see a boy, she sleeps with a married man, and she is a terrible friend to Lane. She is also incredibly bad at relationships. She is the easiest person on earth to steal away from a man. I’m in love with Jess as much as the next girl, but the amount of flirting she does with him while still dating Dean is unacceptable. If you actually start to analyze her actions as the show progresses, it’s hard not to dislike her.
And then there’s Lorelai. On the surface, there’s a lot you could admire about her. She’s a single mother who works to support her child and eventually starts her own business. But once again, the writers have failed to make a “strong female character” that is likable. Lorelai, like Rory, seems to feel entitled to other people’s help and attention. The worst example of this is how she interacts with Luke throughout the series. I get that they are friends, but I would still be annoyed if my friend was constantly coming into my place of business, screeching about her problems while I tried to serve customers. Maybe Luke is into it, but the other customers aren’t. Also, the whole “I love coffee, it’s my whole personality” thing can only be described as cringey.
Rory and Lorelai are the definitions of “pick me” girls. I don’t want to hate them, but the way they are written makes them very difficult to empathize with. They are presented to viewers as strong, smart, and independent women, but their behavior does not back that up. So I don’t think its misogyny that’s twisting my perception of these two. I think they might just suck. If that means I get another tally on the chalkboard, so be it. I will not ride for Rory and Lorelai Gilmore, and I live by that.