Women of a certain age, that grew up in the late 1990s and 2000s, are a bit excited on the internet over the last six months or so. Its been a rough year for many, with problematic global trends, continued gender inequality and the inability to get the perfect liquid winged eyeline (just me?).
What has got women excited? The announcement of a mini-season of Gilmore Girls, a return to our favourite fictional town of Stars Hollow. Look up “gilmore girls revival” and you’ll see over half a million results. Its part nostalgia for a time before smart phones, before the domination of social media, before the global financial crisis, before the refugee crisis. It is part about a return to a family in which people saw parts of themselves, that challenging competition between closeness and frustration that signifies family relationships. Its returning to characters in which we could see ourselves – clever, complicated, bookish, kooky, music-loving, food-loving, DAR attending, Celine Dion loving, consumers of popular culture, coffee and enormous burgers.
Despite being excited by the revival, I’m nervous. In the original series we saw some deeply problematic issues
White Privilege and the use of “foreign” characters that use typically racist tropes
- the lack of diversity
- the interchanging of foreign maids, their disposability and othering
Oy with the slut shaming
The shift (especially in later series) away from the close relationship between two females who spent time together, studied and worked hard, to one in which drama around men dominated their conversation.
- I wonder about the Bechdel ratings over the seasons
- I note that the plotlines do centre around female leads in various spheres: the independence/dragonfly, Chilton, Kims Antiques, the dancehall,the editing room.
The problematic use of pregnancy
- Sookie in the last season and her non-consensual impregnation
- The shaming of Sheri as a nonconforming -mother
Toxic masculinity and its impact on Luke as a partner
Class privilege and the presentation of the challenges of single mothers in service industries as a lifestyle issue rather than an economic one
Using Paris Geller as an “unnatural woman”
Alternatively, I am looking forward to the show continuing to centre upon women and family, in a way that sometimes feels raw. Families and relationships within them, and I include non-genetic family here, are complex and a site of conflict, but also deep loyalty and love.
I am hoping that Paris Geller is fighting the good fight and smashing the glass ceiling, using her razor sharp wit and single-mindedness in a career. I hope that she continues to challenge people particularly employees to accept authority from women. I do not want to see a soft, motherly Paris. I don’t want her sparkle to be dented by the world of school pick-ups. I want her pure unadulterated passion. I want her with Doyle in a equal partnership of passion, respect and hard work.
I want Lane to represent working mothers; managing the dual roles that the final season gave her. I want her to go back to school. I want for her a partnership and a family environment that represents a village raising children that facilitates her equal participation in both her passion for music and in her family life without any metaphysical angst about her ”motherhood”.
I want Rory to be single and uncomfortable for her immensely privileged life. She should represent the feeling of most millennial women. We have been given enormous opportunity, but we have also been consumers of gendered products and demonstrations of femininity. We were promised if we worked hard at school and at university we would and could do it all. The transition into work is hard for many, with many having to job-seek for a long time, to have to work in many casual jobs, to not work in our chosen field. For those who are lucky enough to enter their field, fighting against unconscious biases, long hours and constant connectivity. Rory, should not be saved by her family’s wealth.