OK, so over on my feminism blog, I wrote a review of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (in general, I really liked it) and of the final four words of the series (I hated them), but apparently I'm not done having endless, ever-evolving thoughts about this revival. And for the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about Rory.
I was really upset after watching the revival. It hurt to watch, and it left me with a bit of a life crisis. But it was only after starting to rewatch Season 2 that I fully realised why;
I've always identified with Rory Gilmore, or at least, with early Rory Gilmore. The Rory that has pro/con lists for everything and always carries a book with her and is an academic perfectionist who dreams of going to Harvard? I watched her as a teenager, and that was me. I felt a huge connection with her, even though 17-year-old me would have killed Jess for daring to write in one of my books. (28-year-old me would just be unable to stand teenage Jess full stop, but that's a whole different thing).
So seeing Rory ten years after graduation, struggling to make it as a writer, all her dreams falling apart... I immediately jumped back into the whole "over identifying" thing. "Well!" I thought. "If Rory Gilmore is struggling like this, then what hope do I have for my future??" I took the whole plotline at face value, because I always identified with Rory in terms of interests and ambitions, and the story fed into some of my fears about career instability.
But the thing is, the Rory in A Year in the Life isn't Rory. Or at least, she isn't the Rory that I knew from those early seasons of Gilmore Girls, or a Rory that I can identify with or even like now. I mean, this is a Rory that never mentions reading. I don't think we saw her reading a single book. Which boxes were her books in? How did she feel being separated from her precious tomes? Guess they're not so precious any more.
This Rory is a failure of her own making. She's super unprofessional. She goes to an interview without preparing at all. Not only that, but she doesn't even have any random story ideas that she can throw out there. And that's no surprise, because she doesn't seem to have any interests. Surely she has something she likes to write about? Some topic she's passionate about? Some current event or pop culture thing or something? We never get the sense that she wants to write about anything in the revival. We just know she wants to write.
When she does get a topic, it's given to her by Jess, and then she clings to it, completely steamrolling over her mom's right to not want an entire book written about some of her worse moments. You don't write about other people if they don't want that, Rory! I mean, maybe if you're a tabloid gossip columnist, but otherwise, no. And her version of hustling, once things fall apart, is writing three chapters of a book (from the dramatic way it was shot, I assumed she was going to bust out a first draft or something) and otherwise not doing much of anything. She stops pitching, she doesn't write anything on spec, she just stops.
I think it's a huge disservice to her character, although one that probably fits in with the Rory we started to see from Season 4 onwards. Rather than a Rory that feels both familiar and inspirational, she's a demonstration of entitlement and what not to do if you want to achieve your dreams. When I finished the revival, I felt sad because it seemed to be saying that even Rory Gilmore, dedicated goal pursuer, can't make it in the writing world. But actually, it was saying that Rory Gilmore, entitled and uninspired, is letting everything collapse around her. That maybe Mitchum was right, all those years ago, when he said she didn't have what it takes.
And that kind of sucks.