In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

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Side effect of wandering around Portland for two months straight:

If I start watching Grimm I’m going to be so distracted by all the locations I recognize.  I’m two minutes into the pilot and I can tell you they’re on NW 10th and Flanders.  Which happens to be where my sister currently works which is how I spotted it immediately.

I’m from New England, where little filming occurs.  I’m not used to recognizing locations because I’ve been there.  I can tell you Dean and Sam go to a motel where Juliette and Lassie staked out some parolees who kidnapped Shawn and Gus.  And I can tell you the Rosewood Grill is really Luke’s Diner.  And the Royal Diner is down the street from MacLaren’s Pub.  (Because I’ve got a little Rainman going on.)  But almost never can I tell you on sight where a location is.  (Scenes in both The Box and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past where filmed at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Mass.)

Therefore if I watch Grimm, I will be insufferable with all my newly gained Portland knowledge.

Maybe only if I watch it with other people… because I sort of really want to test my memory!

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That’s your favorite book? I’ll have to check it out!

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Rachel Sugar over at The Date Report wrote this piece: All the Books I Lied About Reading to Impress Guys (And Then Read Anyway).  It’s pretty funny.  And: who hasn’t read something because the person we like said they did?  I’ve done it.  Dudes have done it for me.  And it’s always weird.

Although, if you’re lucky, you can get a good read out of the situation.  Unlike Sugar, I’ve had an OK reading experience when I’ve read a book because a dude told me it was his fave.  Not on my top ten.  I haven’t read either book a second time.  But they weren’t bad.  The first one was Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut.  The Dastardly Pirate who recommended it to me wasn’t aghast when I said I hadn’t read any Vonnegut, but he claimed I would like him.  After that conversation I went out and bought Bluebeard and read it immediately.  I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it.  I still haven’t read anything else by Vonnegut, but it was an interesting read and I appreciated it.  I also found it extremely interesting that the Pirate’s favorite book is a story about a cantankerous artist who did the art that everyone else was doing because everyone was doing it until it started falling apart.

The other book I’ve read “because it’s his favorite book”, he actually gave to me as a Christmas present.  We were barely dating and I didn’t think presents were necessary, but he showed up days after Christmas with a pair of earrings he made for me and a copy of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.  For our relationship, this wasn’t promising.  The TMM wanted me to give Steinbeck a second chance (because I hate him more than the overturned turtle hates crossing the road).  I think the vehemence in my speech concerning Steinbeck made him sad.  He assured me I “didn’t have to read” the book, and certainly not “right away”, but he fucking gave me his favorite book as a present: of course I had to read it.  I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I hate both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.  I understood his point about the language being beautiful (I even cried at the end, it was so lovely), but I knew our relationship was doomed as I started to see the TMM in both Doc and Mack (or vice versa).  Even though my eyes were beginning to open, I held onto that relationship for far longer than I ought to have.

Sugar’s life lessons learned from reading books for dudes were: “be yourself” and “you are not Charles Bukowski’s target audience” (amen).  Mine is: don’t read his favorite book unless you’re sure you want to know these things about him.  At the time we all thought it was super sexy when Jess Mariano wrote margin notes in Rory Gilmore’s copy of “Howl”, but now that we’re grown and more experienced we all know it was fucking punk move.  Any dude who wants to color your experience with a text is a thoughtless doofus.  As Sugar points out: “…identical reading lists are not the key to romantic compatibility”.  Neither, as it turns out, is being from the same area or playing the same instrument (which I already knew from high school: I never found the boys who played the same instrument as me attractive – unless he was Brazilian).  It takes more than liking the same books, or music, or movies, or comic book villains, or ethnic food, or historical era, or African songbirds to make a healthy relationship.