< SWITCH ME >

 

“I am feeling very lost these days. 

I have no job, no credit. 

I have no underwear!“

- RORY GILMORE, 32.

 

My Mum saw this snippet of the Gilmore Girls revival in a trailer and sent it to me asking if by chance I contributed to the script, as coincidentally, I told her a week prior that I currently lacked the time to go to the laundrette and was running out of both undies and the money to just buy new ones.

Why do we need a reflection on the Gilmore Girls? Because no matter if you were a fan from the first hour, couldn’t care less, or are only half-heartedly involved in the life of the Gilmore Girls: the revival itself and the reaction to it reveals much. 

Gilmore Girls is an american comedy-drama television series that is centred around three generations of 'Gilmore girls': Lorelai Gilmore, a tough and loving 32 year-old, her 16 year-old daughter Rory Gilmore, who is adorably dorky and mega smart, and Rory’s grandmother (Lorelai’s mother) — Emily Gilmore, who is a hard nut to crack. She and Lorelai still share a lot of grief on how things developed after Lorelai’s teen pregnancy with Rory was discovered and do not maintain the best of relationships, whereas Rory is a walking magnet for her grandparent’s admiration. Rory and Lorelai are best friends, something Emily and Lorelai will never experience.

The show is fun, quick and intelligent. And most of all, it is a show about women. There are an abundance of scenes where you can only see girls and women interact with each other, sometimes it is void of men —except appearances at the outer lines of the bigger picture. Gilmore Girls is a show about family ties, about grief, responsibilities, growing up, making mistakes, reading books, standing up for who you are and want to be.

It taught us about learning how to walk in this world, and more importantly about how to get up once you’ve tripped and broken both of your legs (figuratively). As with so many of my peers, I grew up with Rory. And my mum is one of my closest friends. I know a lot of girls have felt a connection to Rory – we all knew we weren’t special for feeling like we were at least partly her, but we definitely knew that to have a character like her on TV was special.

Of course, romance was a part of it too, but men didn’t dominate the characters’ life all throughout. All in all, it always felt real, but in the soft protected walls of a magical town with magical people, like a perfect landscape in a snow globe. 

 

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Photo: Televisione Streaming (Flickr); Licence:CC BY 2.0

 

Netflix brought the Gilmore Girls back to life (though admittedly, they never really left us) and with Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel back as writers and producers, it was hyped and anticipated by fans all around the world. To paint the picture (sorry, spoilers!): our beloved role model character named Rory, whom we’ve last seen at the age of 23, degree in hand, wandering out in the world pursuing a dream career in journalism, striving to become the next Christiane Amanpour —is now, nine years later, struggling to make a living with what she loves, and announcing to her mother that she is pregnant with a baby. The viewer has a vague idea of who the father might be, but the creators deliberately don't waste time in confirming who the father really is. Though it might enrage some fans, it is a genius move —because they taught us from Season 1, that for this show, for this reality, it does not really matter.

However, approximately 6 hours and 11 minutes (this is how long it takes to binge watch the revival in its entirety) after Netflix dropped the new episodes a lot of fans and media kind of…flipped. I, however, loved every part of it and was dazzled by the media backlash. Every big news outlet in my periphery had something to say about it, whether it was in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Huffington Post , ZEIT Online or Spiegel Online. And when it comes to Rory, I think they are not only wrong, but also neglecting every bit of feminism that we’ve been working towards, and showing no understanding of the realities that people my age face. Maybe that’s why I took criticism of Rory’s development a bit personally. 

 

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Photo: jeffmason (Flickr); Licence:CC BY 2.0

Yes, I had high hopes for her too. I wanted her to travel the world and report news stories first-handedly, I wanted her to be happy and successful and next to a man she loves. Guess what, that perfect world? It didn’t happen. And sincerely, I love the creators of the show for this reality. Rory, to me, never felt more real. And when I look around my group of friends and acquaintances, it is a widespread reality.

Even though our parents’ generation already had kids (us), and seemingly their shit together, when they were our age, today’s realities are wildly different from even just thirty years ago. Psychologists and social scientists define us as a group living in a "young adulthood". Due to the standard of living, education, travels and study opportunities abroad at our fingertips, we delay growing up and settling down. We might be mid-or end-twenties, but we still frantically search for an adult when we really need one. We’re young adults, but not adults-adults yet. Sometimes we still run up the stairs on all fours. It’s fun. Or as Amy Sherman-Palladino put it: “Thirty-somethings are a little younger today than they used to be.“

Even though our parent's generation already had kids (us), and seemingly their shit together, when they were our age, today's realities are wildly different from even just thirty years ago

We are all so well educated, we travelled whenever we could, we move abroad for internships, and most of us definitely did not land their dream job fresh out of university. Furthermore, most of us still have the possibility (and made good use of it) to call their childhood home a home, even for a longer period — like, when you have to move back in with your parents, because the job market is scary. And the job market IS scary. Heck, the internship market is a guarantee to get all your self-worth smashed into tiny pieces. Just consider the biggest traineeship programme of the world: the European Commission traineeship scheme. Every year, twice, roughly 3500 incredibly well educated young adults apply to the European Union, to experience what this dream machine is like from the inside. 2500 of my peers are pre-selected, 600 make it. And according to friends’ experiences: during these five months most of them do a job, which they definitely do not need an undergraduate degree for, let alone a postgraduate. They are all overqualified, and still only a fraction gets in. Is that fair? It really isn’t. It’s a tough world.

Writing this, I know how ridiculous it sounds. Our generation has more choices than any other generation before. I am thankful and humbled by that freedom every single day. Though being honest, as amazing as it is, and as much as our parents supported us in every wild travel or study plans, it’s also a blessing in disguise. Unfortunately, more choices do not necessarily mean that we are capable of maximising our happiness. All this (incredible) freedom just makes it all the harder to know where we should turn to and what we want to focus on. It’s definitely easier to decide which ice cream to get when you only have two options, instead of 53 extraordinary flavours. (Shout-out to Aziz Ansari and his beautifully written book Modern Romance, though he isn’t so much into ice cream as I am, he was going on about tacos. Fair enough.) 

So if Rory hasn’t reached her dream yet, that is ok. If she abandons her old dream that she nurtured for so long in order to do something else that she loves, that is also fine by me. And the outrage about the last four words? She is 32. She can have a child. It’s an artistic arch that the producers have built - Lorelai was 32 when Gilmore Girls originally premiered, and now Rory is 32 and pregnant.

Treating it as if she repeats her mother’s mistake is incredibly demeaning regarding everything she has worked for. Having a child means you’ve wasted your education? Having a child means, you cannot live on to be happy, chasing your dreams? Yes, you have another person to account for, but the vast majority of media reactions was brutal in their judgement, that Rory’s life surely must be over now. And overall, that she failed us. She isn’t who she was supposed to be. But I am sitting here, having my belongings spread out over four different households, contemplated shredding my credit card over the Christmas present nightmare and honestly, I could not be happier that Rory is at where we’re all partly still at: a bit lost, and life still wide open.

Without the protection of a snow globe. It’s refreshing to see that on TV. I feel understood and in good company. 

 

friedi headshotABOUT THE AUTHOR

Friederike Sandow just finished her postgraduate studies at the University of Bath. When she is not off travelling the world due to her part-time job as a flight attendant, she roams through the streets of Neukölln, Berlin.

Once the morning grumpiness has been cured with a big cup of coffee, she‘ll tell you all about her undying love for John Irving, cats and Persian food - which has sparked her interest in writing her MA thesis on the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

 

Cover photo: Stefanie Seskin (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

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