(Minor spoilers for the first four seasons)
I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls back when it first aired. I remember watching a few scenes back when I had a TV (some six years ago), but I found it a bit boring and never got hooked. But it kept popping up as a pop culture reference. A few weeks ago, after the umpteenth tweet by people whose judgement I respect, I decided to give it a try.
I started at the beginning, and have been binge watching my way through (season 4 episode 18, so you know not to spoil me). And while the show still gets boring at times (I don’t bother to hit pause when I get up to get food or do the laundry), it is probably the nicest thing I’ve watched on TV, in a long time. (Jessica Jones was the best, but I wouldn’t call it nice.)
It’s boring enough that I don’t obsess over it. But when I’ve had a bad day at work or I’m sick, it’s perfect. (Boring might be unfair: but there are lots of episodes when nothing much happens, just like life! Lots of times when the main characters are being even more self-absorbed than usual, and you don’t care that poor Rory might actually not be the best in her class for a few episodes!)
I usually don’t bother to read about the show either (compared to when I was watching the Good Wife, and would obsessively read everything I could find about it), but did read a couple of recaps recently, and the reviewer said something about how the Gilmore girls don’t treat their men well: that is, Luke and Dean.
Dean, who even after he stops being Rory’s boyfriend, still cares about her and may even be in love with her. Who offers himself as a shoulder to cry on or comes to rescue her when she calls. Who cares about her feelings about him getting married, even though she never loved him enough, and even though he finally left her because it had been obvious (probably to the whole town) that she was in love with someone else. Dean, who’s never been right for Rory, but who’s tried so hard to be. Who is the perfect-on-paper boyfriend, but never really translates because Rory has never really fallen for him.
And Luke. Who’s always there, always a friend, always helping Lorelai. Who doesn’t come off as Nice GuyTM because he never expects anything in return.
Sure, the Gilmore “girls” don’t treat them well. Rory strings Dean on until he breaks up with her, even though she’s obsessed with Jess. She then proceeds to keep in touch with him and even drunk call him, though he’s married and his wife obviously doesn’t like her. Lorelai and Rory both take advantage of Luke, guilting him into doing things for them.
But, though I don’t watch a lot of TV, this feels like the only TV show where the men somewhat resemble the men in my life. Men who nurture, men who listen and care. Like the friend who calls me up as soon as I mention I’m depressed and talks to me for an hour and meets me for lunch the next day. Who lets me sit in his home while he’s working because I want the company and comfort. The other friend who I stay with and who cleans up while I laze in bed. Who really listens to what’s happening in my life and pushes me to find my happiness. The friend’s husband (who’s also grown into a dear friend) who softly calls outside my door at nine in the morning when I’m staying with them and haven’t got up yet because I’m not feeling great, and places a cup of coffee near me, just before he goes off to work. And my husband, who feeds me and nurtures me — all the time, but especially when I’m sick — with the kind of love and patience that I hadn’t thought possible.
Sure, not all men—or even most men—are like that. Real life is full of assholes. But it’s so refreshing to watch a show where no one is really bad: even the dorky-creepy guy who breaks in to set up a burglar alarm for Lorelai is actually looking out for her (though misguidedly) and not pretending to in order to creep on her. It’s such an appealing fantasy.
The other thing I love about Gilmore Girls? Lorelai. Sure, she’s self-absorbed and full of herself and annoying. But it amazes me that she gave up all she had — a loving, rich family, a life that was mapped out for her — and moved out (only to the next town, but to a different world) to make her own life. That she worked as a maid to support herself and her child but refused to live with her parents and their rules or to get married to a guy she liked but didn’t want to marry. And she had this courage at sixteen. I’m nearly twice that age and I don’t think I can do it, to give up my easy privileges to be who I really want to be. But she gives me hope.
Both Lorelai and Rory, with their self-confidence and their ambition. In a world where we’re still being told to “choose love over work”, seeing these two live the lives they wanted for themselves, and be happy and have fun… Scratch boring, that’s the fantasy I want.
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