A few weeks ago, I wrote the first post in a series about the new Gilmore Girls series, A Year In The Life. That one focused on Lorelei, and you might remember that I was pretty okay with where she wound up.
Again, spoilers. Major, big-time spoilers. Don’t read any further if you haven’t finished it.
Today I’m gonna deal with Rory. And if that sounds like I’m a mom preparing to level consequences on a teenager who climbed out her bedroom window at night, there’s a reason. Rory is a hot mess.
And she’s 32. At 32, you should be getting your shit together. Ideally, you should have it mostly together. Rory finished college almost ten years ago. She graduated from Yale with a journalism degree. She was off to travel with Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She’d just chosen herself and her career over marrying her boyfriend and moving to Palo Alto (where there is a perfectly respectable newspaper nearby, the San Francisco Chronicle). Rory looked all set to take over the world.
Except she didn’t. Nearly 10 years on, she’s floundering. She’s had (recently) one well-received article, which, if I understand correctly, was a short piece that isn’t what we expected from Rory when we left her in 2007.
So, let’s recap Rory. Rory Gilmore is the brilliant daughter of Lorelei Gilmore, born when her mother was just 16, and raised by Lorelei in the snow globe known as Stars Hollow. She transfers, in the first season, to a very expensive private high school (Chilton), which is supposed to be her road to Harvard and the life Lorelei never had due to getting knocked up in high school.
Rory succeeds despite a few stumbles along the way, and is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a smart kid. She has some trouble adjusting to the expectations of a high-performing private school after being in public school, but manages just fine. She winds up valedictorian and accepted to pretty much every Ivy League college there is, and chooses Yale for its journalism program (among other things on an extensive pro-con list).
She also does well at Yale, with the expected mistakes. She takes too many classes early on and flounders in a couple of them. She has some trouble settling on her future, and a somewhat disastrous internship that ends so badly that Rory decides to steal a yacht (more on this in a minute), gets community service, drops out of Yale for a term, and moves in with her grandparents and joins the Daughters of the American Revolution, but, as always, she gets it together in the end, and seems set for a bright future.
As far as Rory’s personal life, she has bad taste in men. This is expected at the age of 16, though, so we cut her a break. Her first boyfriend, Dean, is a nice enough guy. He treats her well. As her mother says, he’s “just about the best first boyfriend you could ask for”. But he’s not even close to as smart as Rory, and he’s very needy, and so, when she meets Jess, the Bad Boy who is smart and needs nobody, she gets bored with Dean and dumps him.
Jess is…exactly the kid you don’t want your 17-year-old dating. He’s a little punk. He’s smart, but he thinks he’s better than school. He’s got no direction. He’s emotionally messed-up due to absent parents. He’s awful. And Rory totally goes all-in for that “he’s horrible to everyone but me” thing that teenage girls are known for.
The Jess thing inevitably implodes, but, again, this is all typical for a girl like Rory. Where things go off the rails for her is after she starts college and takes up with Dean again. Such a bad plan, not least of which because, well…he’s married by this point. She sleeps with a married man, breaks up his marriage, and then, months later, remembers why she broke up with him in the first place. He’s not smart enough for her. He can’t keep up. So she dumps him. Again.
For Logan Huntsberger. Who, full disclosure, is my choice of Favorite Rory Man from the original series. Yes, he starts out as a drunken, immature rich jerk, but he has hidden depths. He manages to change. To grow up. I always liked him (I guess he’s my type of Bad Boy), and I loved him once he became Adult Logan. Ultimately, though, Rory screws this one up, too. Because she doesn’t want to base her future choices on the dude in her life (solid choice at 22, even if I’m not sure I concur with her decision here), and also because, like Lorelei, she doesn’t EVER want ANYONE else to tell her what to do, or have any influence over the direction of her life. Seriously, the inability to merge their lives with another human is a serious deficiency for these Gilmore Girls. Of them all, only Emily has managed it (but Emily’s post comes later).
At any rate, Rory makes bad romantic choices. This is part of her established character, but, again, something we expect to have gotten better by her 30s.
Flash forward to the new series. Rory is trying to figure out where she fits in, for the entire series. She is homeless, having given up her apartment in New York, and is shipping her stuff to a bunch of places, places where she can crash for a weekend, or a week. Her mom’s house, her best friends’ places (Lane and Paris), and, as it turns out, Logan’s place in London.
So, at the age of 32, Rory is living as a roving, permanent houseguest? She tries to present this as independence, saying this is the time in her life for her not to have roots, but, honestly: no. Your thirties are a time for roots. The previous decade, that was when she should have been doing her rootless independence thing. We 40-something women who have watched from the beginning were not fooled.
Rory is trying to find work…at first, work that isn’t “beneath” her, by the look of things. There’s a somewhat trashy website that’s been pursuing her, but she’s not taking that meeting, because she wants to work for Condé Nast (after doing pieces for the New Yorker and the Atlantic, I guess she thinks that’s what she’s owed by life?). She gets a meeting with the editors of, apparently, GQ, and ultimately takes on a story idea they like…and she hates. She is, apparently, incapable of being professional after taking the story (she falls asleep during an interview, ferchrissake), and winds up sleeping with a source. So her bad romantic choices continue, too (and that’s not the worse of them by far).
She ultimately takes the meeting with the website, and doesn’t bother to prepare for it, leaving her at a job interview that she thought was some sort of coronation, it seems. Her lack of professionalism loses her that job, too, on top of the insult to the woman who runs the site.
This is pretty much where Rory is. She is not great at her job, but thinks (because she’s always been the Golden Girl) that certain types of jobs are beneath her. Her old headmaster suggests she might come back and teach at Chilton…oh, no. That’s not who she is. But apparently who she is, is someone who takes on the editorship of the local Stars Hollow paper for zero pay. Someone who spends money and time flying to London to pitch a biography to River Song (okay, not River Song, but a fascinating and annoying woman played by Alex Kingston), rather than preparing for an interview.
So, Rory, what 30-something women know is this: you take any job you can get in your field rather than be a rootless unemployed person. You work that job and use it as a way to move to the next job. You’re REALLY bad at this adulting thing. But you USED to be better at it. It’s weird.
On the other front, the thing she’s always been bad at: men.
Rory has a boyfriend. Sort of. For two years. Sort of. His name is Paul, and we see him for a few minutes in Winter. But she treats him so badly that you want to scream. She forgets about him – forgets he’s IN THE HOUSE, once. She’s been meaning to break up with him forever, but just can’t be bothered to take the time. It’s not clear what she ever saw in Paul, who, ultimately, is just a plot device and comic relief.
Rory is also sleeping with Logan. Her trips to London to see River Song are mostly just cover for her trips to sleep with her engaged ex. They’re clearly not really over one another…and just as clearly, he’s not gonna leave his fiancé to be with her. This is Dean Version 2.0 – maybe she thinks if she just has sex with Logan enough, he’ll leave his fiancé and take up with her again?
So. Rory is cheating on Paul, and in the process, enabling Logan to cheat on his fiancé. Awesome. In almost ten years, she hasn’t learned a single thing about relationships. This one is, frankly, less surprising. Her mom is terrible at relationships, so Rory had a really bad role model in this area. Rory also has no real interest in involving a man in her life (at the level of altering her life to suit the relationship), so what’s the point in having rules and investing emotional energy in a real relationship?
Oh, and she sleeps with a source. A dude dressed as a Wookie. Just as an aside, cheating on Paul again, with a random dude she met WHILE WORKING. ARGH.
So, Lorelei improves. She…grows up. Finally. Does Rory?
She starts to. She decides to write a book (“Gilmore Girls,” ahem), and it is, apparently, pretty good. She starts talking to Jess again, which helps. (Did I mention that the new series made me Team Jess, a fact that I am not entirely comfortable with? But Jess…he grew up.)
But then…those Last Four Words. The Last Four Words that were intended all along, but were postponed for a decade. The Last Four Words that might have been acceptable for Rory The 22-year-old, but which just make Rory The 32-year-old all the more annoying and sad.
Rory is pregnant. We assume by Logan, who is her version of her father, Christopher. Instead of Getting It Together, she’s gonna continue to repeat her mother’s mistakes. And it’s just not that cute on a 30-year-old woman.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I know this was Rory’s destiny all along, but…I also feel like she deserved better than how they wrote her for this series.
Okay, so. Next time, I’m gonna tackle the third Gilmore Girl: Emily.