The news broke Monday that Gilmore Girls might be coming back, and fans immediately began speculating about what we could expect. But more than whether Lorelai marries Luke or whether Rory stays a journalist, I would curious to see how the show tries to stay feminist and relevant in today’s society.
In 2000, when the show first aired, I was a fresh-faced, new college student, away from my friends and family back in Connecticut for the first time. It was an exciting time, but scary as well, and throughout my constant struggles with calculus, my job at the campus library and my midnight jogs, Gilmore Girls was there.
The story of a young single mother who turned away from the posher side of Connecticut’s wealthy privileged was right up my alley. I was just discovering what it meant to me to be a feminist, and I felt an affinity toward Lorelai. She had gumption, conviction, spunk and an incredible work ethic. And she was doing it on her own. It comforted me that a woman who had gotten pregnant so young (a huge mistake in my young mind) could get her life together with such grace and aplomb. Yes, she continued to struggle, but she and her daughter Rory had a bond I’d always wanted in my own life.
As a teenager, Rory was a good, hard-working, tenacious girl, like I considered myself to be at the time. (And eventually a journalist, to boot.) With the Gilmores each week, I formulated my own ideas about what life could be like if I tried hard enough and believed in myself. I learned what I could potentially be capable of if I forsook the patriarchal ideals I had been raised with and confidently put myself out there as a woman, but more important, as a person. I learned to take risks for what was important to me, and to stand up for others and for my beliefs. Gilmore Girls, with its fast-talking, quirky, fictional world, helped teach me these lessons.
By the time the show ended in 2007, I was no longer watching. I had “grown up.” I was working overnights on a television news show. I had found the love of my life. I didn’t need aid in exploring my femininity.
So I didn’t see the final season. I don’t need four 90-minute episodes on Netflix to satisfy a desire to have the show end with more closure, as many want. I would watch for different reasons.
Our society has changed in the past decade. Feminism means more than a self-made woman who knows when to lean on the support system that has always been there for her when it comes to her child. It means more than working our way up from metaphorical maid to metaphorical innkeeper and owner. It has always meant more than that, but for many of us who watched the Gilmore Girls grow up and learn together, its definition within our own hearts and minds has changed. It’s become more inclusive, broader, more important.
After such a long break, can the Gilmores keep up?
Others have pointed out that previous reincarnations of shows have failed to recreate the exact mood and persona of their past iterations, notably Arrested Development, which came back with a less quirky and more hardened edge.
But I don’t want to go back to 2007. I want to see the idealism slightly diminished and the struggles deeper, more brutal. I want to see the laughter and closeness that death and financial instability can bring. I want to watch Lorelai and Rory take on the world as full-fledged adults who have sorted out their issues.
Gilmore Girls can shine. It can be worthy and relevant in our day and age, particularly if the main characters branch out from their small-scale feminism and represent the broader worldview that would naturally come with age and experience. With Amy Sherman-Palladino and her quick-witted, flexible genius back at the helm, viewers can be sure the script will pick up where it was meant to pick up, as well as adapt to the current times. And I think that’s reason enough to give this reboot a chance.