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.

Why I’m still rooting for Becca Tilley.

Photo credit: Steve Cachero

Ew, not for her relationship with Chris; in life.

Becca Tilley is the final lady rejected by Chris Soules on the most recent season of ABC’s “The Bachelor”.  She is a 26 year old chiropractic assistant in California, raised in Louisiana.  She is smart, gorgeous, and nice.  Unlike so many of the other girls who wind up on ABC’s reality-drama “looking for love”, she’s “unemotional”.  Which is to say she doesn’t break down crying or laugh really loudly or talk a lot.  Despite her reserve and her sweet appearance, Becca is tough and I want to see her succeed.

The Internet has been pretty harsh about Becca since the finale aired last week calling her “unemotional” and “unfeeling”.  Even the Bachelor himself, Mr. Sensitivity, wrote a misunderstood account of the scene in the barn when he broke up with Becca.  He dis-compassionately cited “the lack of emotion she showed in that moment” as being what hurt the most for him.  In a “moment” like that, being dumped, some girls might cry, some might throw a tantrum, some girls might get combative, but other girls immediately click into “self-preservation mode”.  Whether or not this was the case with Becca Tilley, I certainly don’t know (perhaps she was just in “shock” as she later says in the limo).  I can, however, think of several reasons why Becca’s outward expressions are entirely reasonable.

1. Self-preservation.  Getting dumped is the worst.  Break-ups are hard and emotionally taxing.  Some of us, when we’re told by someone we care about that they “don’t want us” have a knee-jerk reaction to “save face”.  After Chris tells Becca she’s not the one he’s choosing, she stiffens up, her smile goes away, she keeps nodding as he’s talking, all of which could indicate some major self-preservation kicking in.  She doesn’t want to look weak, or foolish, or vulnerable in front of this man whom she has come to trust as he is, essentially, betraying that trust.

2. She saw it coming?  The program was down to Becca and Whitney.  Becca is no fool, she knew that Chris has strong feelings for Whitney, and more importantly, Whitney’s life-goals line up with Chris’; Whitney also wants to settle down, get married, and start a family right now.  Whitney over Becca is the logical choice, assuming all parties are being 100% honest about what they want.  It’s entirely possible Becca knew she was saying goodbye to Chris that day because she was aware of her limitations in regards to Chris’s desires.  She entered the barn full of smiles, which could mean she was still hopeful, but it’s possible she’d already resigned herself to the fact that she and Chris were saying goodbye.

3. Becca doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve.  Anyone watching the program at all knows that Becca is a bit of a dark horse, which isn’t a bad thing!  She doesn’t openly share her emotions, she isn’t loud and mouthy like Ashley I., and she isn’t dramatic like Kelsey, and she isn’t effervescent like Whitney.  Becca doesn’t try to be the loudest person in the room, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel anything, or notice what’s going on, or have opinions.  One out of three people, studies, and common sense, tell us, are Introverts: people who aren’t going to be the loudest person in the room, people who are probably going to keep their opinions to themselves, unless specifically asked.  But, since people don’t usually ask, Introverts can be overwhelmed when put on the spot.  They can become flustered and say “I don’t know” a lot.  Because they probably don’t know.  Becca has struck me throughout this cycle as a young woman who thinks before she speaks and if she is unsure about something she isn’t going to say that she is.  If she is an Introvert, Becca’s lack of outward emotion in the barn is entirely natural.  It’s entirely acceptable even if she isn’t.  She was receiving tough news and she probably needed time to process it.  Maybe she had an epic break down later off-camera?

4. SHE WAS BEING DUMPED ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.  Lest we forget “The Bachelor” is a fucking television show, Becca and the other contestants, I’m sure, never did.  They have cameras and microphones, a host, and a director, for fucks sake, hovering around them as they are attempting, presumably, to find their soulmate from a pool of pretty people carefully selected by a team of producers.  The stigma surrounding being vulnerable is pretty much bullshit, but something I can understand.  I can understand Becca not wanting all of America to see her vulnerability as the man she’s come to care for breaks up with her.  Were I in her shoes, I would probably want to keep some of my feelings private too.

To call this young woman “cold” and “unemotional” is downright rude, and only works to promote the incorrect notion that there is one “normal” mode of behavior.  The people who want Becca to have a breakdown, or cry, when Chris breaks up with her are naive.  It may have been sometimes subtle, but Becca struggled throughout the season.  She wants to fall in love, she doesn’t want to hurt Chris, and she doesn’t want to get hurt herself.  Part of her really wants to be with Chris, but ABC’s imposed timeline is not Becca’s timeline.  The network wants the Reality Couple to make certain declarations after only knowing each other for approximately two months and Becca’s hesitation is entirely rational.  As Queen Elsa says, “You can’t marry a man you just met!”.

Were Becca and Chris able to date exclusively for a while without the cameras, giving Becca time to figure out what her life in Iowa would be (kudos to her for not being willing to assimilate to his life foregoing one of her own!) perhaps they could make a go of it.  They seemed to genuinely care for one another and, given time, it could blossom into something strong and wonderful.  As it is, ABC puts the pressure on the couple to make a decision and make it now.  Whitney was ready to make a decision now.  Chris was ready to make a decision now.  Becca, like any reasonable twenty six year old, was not.

As a spectator of their lives, I like Becca.  I like Whitney, too.  I like a lot of the girls.  I even like Chris.  But, in life, I’m rooting for Becca.  Chris and Whitney can get married, break up, get back together, never see each other again.  But I want to see Becca Tilley achieve great things in this life on her own terms.  She isn’t unemotional at all, America (Chris), she just doesn’t share her emotions as readily as most people.  Something I view as a strength rather than a weakness.  Becca will use whatever she is feeling after this experience and funnel it into whatever she does next.  And whatever she does next is going to be brilliant.

Julie Chen makes the same worried statements about ‘The View’ as I do.

Video

This morning, for the first time in months, I caught most of ‘The View’.  I have always loved ‘The View’. I’ve loved everything from the Hot Topics discussion to the interviews.  I loved the concept of the show.  I loved that Barbara Walters was bringing together women from different backgrounds to discuss Important Topics, not just topics that are supposed to be important to women (not that those aren’t important – and they discussed those too).  I loved this show.  I loved it even when Rosie and Elisabeth were at each others throats (except when Rosie was being all self-righteous about it, that was stupid).  I loved Meredith Vieira.  I loved the conversations these women were having.  I even loved commandeering the TVs at school in the abandoned student lounge to watch it between classes.   But, based on what I saw today, I don’t think I love this show anymore.

Granted, I missed most of the Hot Topics segment of the show, which, for a very long time now, has been the most worthwhile segment of the show, but what followed was a serious letdown.  I was 100% disgusted when each host got up and they told us how much money each piece of clothing cost each outfit equaling around fifty dollars, thus assuring the viewer they too can afford to dress like a celebutard.  Then they “interviewed” Tyra Banks; the most interesting part of the hideously brief conversation was at the end when they touched on Tyra’s desire for women to change the way they talk about “fat”, basically, changing how we talk about body image.  (Fun words from a Supermodel.)  But, naturally, that wasn’t the main topic of the conversation.  First they had to talk about “America’s Next Top Model” and some photoshoot Tyra did recently in which she embodied other supermodels….

After that super boring conversation, we had the top Christmas gadgets.  There was a lot of The-Price-is-Right style shouting during this bit.  I had to turn down the volume while some dude showcased useless device after useless device until Jenny McCarthy was wheeled out on a fake sleigh by a clown dressed like Santa Claus (who reasonably looked offended when Jenny said that Santa couldn’t make it there today).  This was followed by a very short interview that I did not understand with two friends (who had a show?), they dated for forty days to see if a When Harry Met Sally style romance would blossom out of their friendship.  I can’t tell you their names, the name of their project, or anything else about them, except that Jenny loves them and they “broke up” after 39 days.  The last thing I remember is an actually interesting conversation with two veterans who wrote and directed two upcoming ABC tearjerker Christmas movies.  (The one about the little girl asking Santa for her mom to come home from Afghanistan looks really good.)

Mostly, though, the episode was a letdown; it was as if there were something essential missing.

The show, when it began and for many years following, was great because it was the first and only of it’s kind.  Women discussing Current Events the way your civics teacher meant ‘Current Events’.  So many news programs are men speaking clinically about current events, emotionless, offering opinions to a camera.  ‘The View’ gave audiences – their demographic surely being mainly comprised of women, given their time slot – women’s opinions.  It went even further to give multiple women’s opinions.  Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, black, white, Asian — women were doing what women do: discussing.  Discussing topics greater than celebrity gossip or shopping or entertainment or movies.  These topics are not unimportant, but they’re the staid topics of women’s magazines and Entertainment Tonight.  ‘The View’ gave us something different.  This is why it was wonderful.

Julie Chen is being given crap for saying ABC made a mistake hiring Jenny McCarthy.  In the above video she says that they don’t know what to do with McCarthy’s talent and are not using her as well as they ought.  She says McCarthy’s personality is better suited to a show like her’s, ‘The Talk’ on CBS.  Chen reportedly said further: “Because what made ‘The View’ so popular and so good was that you had five different women from different walks of life discussing politics . . . . what put them on the map and made them good and famous – they don’t do that anymore.”  Chen is receiving a lot of negative attention for her statements, but what she says is what myself, and probably others, are thinking.  The show was great because Barbara Walters, a woman who helped lead the way for other women in a traditionally male-dominated field was, once again, doing great things for women.  This was the reason my twelve year old, budding feminist self was so ready to love ‘The View’ when it was first launched in 1997, and why I continued to love it through high school and college; this is no longer what I see when I watch this program.

I am not ready to declare Jenny McCarthy the reason for the direction ‘The View’ is headed.  It’s been slowing moving in this direction for years now.  I’m more inclined to declare the cause the lack of a journalist on the show.  Whoopi, lovely as she is, is an actress and a comedian, Sherri is an actress, Jenny is a former Playboy Bunny-turned-actress and writer.  Barbara, who is meant to be leaving the show after this season, is the only journalist on the program and, historically, when she’s not there the show isn’t as good.  Without Barbara what will become of the program?  Will it take a turn and return to it’s former glory in the Coming Days?  Or is it doomed to become another vapid women’s program offering nothing more interesting than “what’s hot this holiday season” and rushed interviews with celebrities promoting their movie or TV program?  I think it all boils down to the priorities of the hosts (and network).  As for the hosts, I haven’t much hope.  Unfortunately for the show, Barbara may just be the lynchpin.  There never has been, nor is there likely to ever be, a host of ‘The View’ as respected as Barbara Walters; not unless Christiane Amanpour makes a seriously unexpected career move.

Sitcom

The other night I was hanging out with a couple of my oldest friends and, as I usually do when I spend time with them, had the thought: We could totally be a sitcom.

We would be some sort of bizarre combination of Friends, Coupling, and Seinfeld.  And it would be hilarious because my friends are hilarious.

The core characters would be us:

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And Amy’s husband.  Right now, my idea for the first episode, is when they moved in together and him proposing.

Here is an unrefined and somewhat disparaging excerpt from what I’ve written so far.

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[Ash and Melissa are struggling with a couch in a hallway while Lindsay carries a large cardboard box behind them.]

Melissa:
Why did you guys have to get such a heavy couch?

Lindsay:
It was a gift from Ash’s mom.

Melissa:
Why did your mom get you such a heavy couch.

Ash:
She wanted to do something nice.

Melissa:
She must hate you, Linds.

Lindsay:
What makes you say that?

Melissa:
Because this couch sucks.  Where the hell is your apartment?

Ash:
Just a little further.  Baby, can you get the door?

[Lindsay puts down the box and sneaks around them but stops at the door and listens.]

Melissa:
Door?  Lindsay?  Ash’s mom’s ugly couch isn’t getting any lighter.

Lindsay:
Shh.  Do you guys hear that?

[They listen; there are the sounds of people fooling around coming through the door.  Lindsay knocks tentatively.  Bronte whips open the door, and mostly closes it behind her; her clothes are askew and she’s flustered.]

Bronte:
Hey guys.

Lindsay:
What’s going on?

Bronte:
No much.  What’s up with you guys?

Ash:
Really heavy furniture.

Melissa:
Ugly heavy furniture.

Bronte:
Do you think you guys could come back?

Lindsay:
What’s going on Bronte?

Bronte, innocently:
Nothing.

Melissa:
Open the door, Bronte!

Lindsay:
Do you have a guy in my new apartment?

Bronte, guilty:
Maybe…

Lindsay:
Bronte!

Bronte:
He’s really cute.  I told him it was my place.

Ash:
Heavy couch, Bronte.  Let us in.

Bronte:
If you come in, he’s gonna know it’s not my place!

Lindsay:
It’s not your place.

Ash:
Open the door, Bronte!

[Bronte pokes her head back in the apartment.]

Bronte:
He must be in the bathroom.  Quick.

[Bronte opens the door and let’s them in.  Lindsay let’s Melissa and Ash get the couch into the living room and follows them with the box.  Melissa and Ash collapse, tired, onto the couch.  Lindsay puts the box on the counter and turns to Bronte.]

Bronte:
Are you mad?

Lindsay:
That depends, is he able bodied.

Bronte:
Oh, yeah.

Lindsay:
Will he help carry up boxes?

Bronte:
If he wants any of this dark chocolate he will.

Lindsay:
You get him to carry boxes up and we won’t tell him this isn’t your place.

Bronte:
Deal.

[Bronte goes over to the hall presumably to elicit Kevin’s help.]

Melissa:
Wait, won’t he notice all the boxes labeled ‘Lindsay’ and ‘Ash’ and realize this isn’t her apartment?

Lindsay:
Bronte’s random?

[Melissa nods.  The three of them look at each other.]

Ash and Lindsay, together:
Naww…

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It’s not Shakespeare and my attempts to write plays or screenplays is limited at best, but I would love to get feedback.