In Defense of Rory Gilmore

via Netflix

by Altea

After my first completion of Gilmore Girls, I engaged in my usual post-TV show finale routine: rooting through the deep confines of the Internet in search of both scalding hot takes and generally accepted opinions regarding the show. I was shocked and slightly disturbed to discover the outpouring of hatred directed at one of the main characters: Rory Gilmore herself. Almost every single person with anything to say about Gilmore Girls wanted to make it extremely clear that they were not a fan of Rory, and those with contradicting opinions didn’t put nearly as much effort into their analyses in her defense. 

This seemed obviously incorrect to me. Yes, Rory had made significant mistakes and was by no means a perfect character, but I find it almost impossible to believe that her actions warrant being referred to by the Gilmore Girls Reddit community (yes, there’s somehow a sizable overlap) as a “selfish, spoiled, whiny brat” (u/DasLezteMadchen on Reddit). 

(Is u/DasLezteMadchen my version of Rory’s ballerina in Season 4? Only time will tell.)

But regardless if you’re a closeted Rory fan who hasn’t had the guts to come forward and tell the world or a vehement Rory hater, today I hope to turn you into a proud Rory Gilmore apologist by justifying 3 of her most hated actions. 

Sleeping With Married Boyfriend Dean

Let’s get right into it. Opening with perhaps the hardest to justify, I urge you to hold onto your seats, because I have thoughts and I’m not afraid to share them. While Rory was at fault in this situation, let’s not pretend like she wasn’t being manipulated and lied to by Dean. In fact, he explicitly tells her that his marriage with Lindsay is over, and heavily implies that he’s going to leave her. Of course, as Lorelai points out, he never outright states that they will separate, but Rory is clearly fully under the impression that this is the case. She overhears Lindsay talking to the butcher about making the perfect roast beef for Dean (Really girl? You want to cook for him?) and is visibly shocked and upset.

I’m not going to pretend like Rory wasn’t a chronic cheater, which I’ll get to later, but the amount of hate she gets for this compared to Dean, the actual married man who had clearly been in love with Rory since high school, is almost criminal. Why don’t we of the Gilmore Girls fandom just slap a bright red “A” on her cable-knit sweater and call it a day? I’m sure she’d at least appreciate the literary reference. 

Dropping Out Of Yale

I’m going to admit that this one is a little harder to defend, but it’s not nearly as morally reprehensible as sleeping with Dean. However, the issue with this situation lies in two parts. The first is obviously the literal felony she and Logan committed, and the second is moving into Richard and Emily’s pool house. We can chalk the first one up to entitlement and perhaps some form of temporary mania, but I don’t necessarily think two rich people stealing a yacht from a third unnamed rich person is the most evil crime in the world. Should she have gotten a heftier sentence than community service? Sure, but nobody was really substantially harmed in this situation but her. 

Moving into the pool house and dropping out of Yale in and of itself is not a considerably immoral thing to do, but the emotional estrangement with Lorelai that followed was arguably immature. However, I think we can blame this one on Lorelai’s choice of parenting Rory. When raising a child as if she’s your best friend, you’re essentially allowing her to entirely ignore your authority, even in situations as dire as the fate of her education. And since Rory was a twenty-year-old woman whose grandparents were paying for Yale, Lorelai had no legal jurisdiction over her daughter’s life. 

Annoying Obsession With Perfection

The Lorelai hive is not going to like this one, but I’m going to yet again blame it on her for inflating Rory’s gifted child syndrome to almost disturbing extremes. Rory has grown up in an environment where everyone has praised her to no end, even to the point where her own mother is so delusional about her intelligence that she’s upset when she applies to more than one college. The fact that everyone in Stars Hollow is entirely unfazed when Rory gets into all three Ivies, an obviously impressive feat, just goes to show how much that entire town puts her on a pedestal. 

And so of course when she gets to Yale, surrounded by legitimate academic rigor, she’s going to be surprised that she’s not the biggest fish in the sea anymore. After all, everyone has told her her entire life that she’s the second coming. She’s shocked when she’s unable to manage a full course load at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and has a mental breakdown that drives her right into the waiting arms of one Dean Forester, the most insidious male to ever grace the screen of Gilmore Girls

I think it goes without saying that I am in no way arguing that Rory is a perfect character, or that she has no legitimate issues, but I think the proportion of hate she gets compared to Jess “Borderline Sexual Assailant” Mariano, Emily “Abusively Classist” Gilmore, or even the beloved Lorelai “Chronic Body Shamer” Gilmore. However, there are two glaring issues in Rory’s character that I do think are legitimate enough to be recognized.

Firstly, her inability to stop cheating on her boyfriends with Jess. It’s bad enough that she cheated on a mediocre man, but to kiss Jess while dating Logan? Logan?! However, I can forgive this with the knowledge that she was hurting from his various affairs over Thanksgiving.

Secondly, her insane sense of entitlement and constant denial that she benefits from her grandparents’ enormous wealth and privilege. Even though the Gilmores are notoriously wealthy across New England, and Christopher comes into significant money in the sixth season, Rory still maintains that she’s not as wealthy as her classmates, both at Yale and Chilton.

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