Gender and Sexuality Column

Gilmore Girls is back and as poorly representative for women as ever

/ The Daily Orange

Where you lead, white feminism, privilege and misrepresentation will follow.

The Gilmore Girls revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” recently made its debut on Netflix. Fans of the show who waited for nine years pulled on their binge-watching sweatpants in anticipation for this momentous event, but the revival fell short of addressing feminist issues that were swept under the rug in the original show.

Although the women-centric show did discuss some feminist topics in a progressive manner, it failed to accurately capture all types of real women who, like Lorelai Gilmore, are single mothers. It told the story of millions of women from the perspective of a privileged, white woman — making single motherhood seem like a breeze with advantages that just aren’t realistic for every woman.

The show told the story of thirty-something Lorelai and her daughter Rory, whom she gave birth to at 16, and their life in the fictional Stars Hollow, which seemed like the most close-knit town on earth. But the show was more than a witty, fast-paced, feel-good storyline. It demonstrated the uphill battle that Lorelai faced after abandoning her conservative, silver-spoon upbringing in order to raise her daughter on her own, until she needed help

After watching the revival, millions of fans had mixed feelings about the direction in which the writers took the show and the way they decided to end it so abruptly — yet again.

The overarching theme in both the original show and the revival seemed to be that life just always works out somehow if you’re white and privileged. No matter what situations the characters had to navigate through, it seemed that they could always afford to run off and explore their career options for years on end, which is demonstrated through Rory living her “vagabond existence” throughout all four episodes of the revival.

So, as long as you have rich parents or grandparents as a safety net, the world will always resolve itself.

The show’s cast is also not at all diverse, and the few characters that aim to represent other cultures play into offensive generalizations. Rory’s best friend, Lane, also made her return to Stars Hollow in the revival, and while her part was very short, her character in the original show spoke volumes about the ideas and dialogue that the media puts out about women of color.

Lane and her mother are the only women of color portrayed in the show, and they are automatically cast in a negative light because of their Korean background and how cultural norms negatively affect their mother-daughter relationship. Their encounters are limited to the uphill battle that Lane faces as she struggles to hide her secret life of rock-and-roll music and American junk food from her mother. And in the revival, her mother is still portrayed as a strict, condescending figure with a heavy accent.

In all, the original show and the revival did not attempt to make strides in terms of changing the conversation about women in other cultures or diversify the cast in order to make it more relatable to every fan of the show. So while “Gilmore Girls” will always hold a special place in our hearts, it’s important to note what is missing from this witty narrative.

Ivana Pino is a sophomore political science major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at ivpino@syr.edu.

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