I have recently embarked on a rewatch of Gilmore Girls in advance of the Netflix revival. Though I watched the show religiously during its first run and a few additional times since it ended in 2007, during this current rewatch I have been surprised to notice the similarities between my relationship with my mother and Lorelai’s relationship with her mother Emily. The difference in the communication style between mother and daughter is a main theme of the series. Throughout the show, Lorelai sees Emily as controlling and manipulative while Emily thinks that Lorelai is secretive and cavalier. The same dichotomy exists between my mother and myself, though less hostile and never estranged. Our relationship is best summed up by the fact that when I introduced my mother to Gilmore Girls, she looked up to and admired Emily Gilmore.
During the initial run of the series I was the exact same age as Rory, growing up with her and idolizing her open and honest relationship with Lorelai. They were best friends but there was no doubt that Lorelai was her mother and didn’t hesitate to pull the “mom card” when necessary. I admired the shorthand the two had and how Lorelai encouraged her daughter to be fully herself, even in ways she did not understand or relate to. I cannot deny that as a sixteen-year-old I was bookish and awkward and not nearly as socially adept as Rory. Dating was never a possibility for me, I had a quirky sense of humor, and a mercurial demeanor that shifted from outgoing to shy on a whim. As I rewatch the series, I am now Lorelai’s age and noticing the ways in which my mom, like Emily Gilmore, interprets my unwillingness to socialize as being contrarian and my enthusiasm for pop culture as frivolous and nonsensical.
During one particular episode of season one, “The Third Lorelai,” Emily and Lorelai butt heads over money and parenting styles and while I felt completely in tune with Lorelai’s take on the situation I began to realize how thoroughly this show had shaped me. It begs the nagging question, the answer to which still eludes me, “do I feel a kinship with Lorelai because of the natural similarity of our disposition, or have I been subconsciously emulating this character which I looked up to?” It may seem like an innocuous question but considering that during the initial run I was firmly under my parents rule. I was my own person, to be sure, but I was without any real outlet for meaningful dissent to their rules. Since graduating high school I have moved a significant distance away from my parents and set about making a life for myself, inevitably butting heads with my parents (mother) in the process.
The question haunts me because I am unable to decipher if I have reacted to conflicts with my mother because of a genuine difference of temperament and opinion or because I was subconsciously channeling the reaction that I learned from Lorelai Gilmore. By no means do I think the differences between my mother and I are manufactured, but I wonder if at some point I cast her in the role of Emily Gilmore and then proceeded to play out scenes that made such a lasting impression on me when I was younger. Alternatively, did sixteen-year-old me identify with the parts of Rory that she shared with Lorelai and as I aged those traits strengthened and I, inevitably, noticed those similarities because they were there all along?
I’m in my thirties now and my personality is firmly fixed, it doesn’t too much matter how I got there. I will, however, start to pay closer attention to how I communicate with my mother and with others around me. I don’t think my mother and I will ever have the relationship of Lorelai and Rory but throughout the series Lorelai and Emily work to repair their relationship and find a better way to relate to each other. I’m excited to see the status of their relationship in the revival. I will always love this show but I will continue to examine how this show has impacted not only my taste in entertainment but how I relate to those around me. Either way, there are worse people to see yourself in, Lorelai Gilmore is cool.