I love Gilmore Girls as much as the next person. The Netflix Gilmore Girls revival is the absolute best thing ever (even though Melissa McCarthy might not be coming back), and much like everyone else, I'm excited to see Rory Gilmore reunite with all of her ex-boyfriends. Sure, some of those exchanges will be awkward. I mean, no one really thinks that Rory and Dean should get back together, do they? But while I want to see her face off with Jess and Logan, there's one thing we really should talk about, and that's the fact that Rory Gilmore is kind of the worst, mainly due to her privilege. And more than that, she doesn't seem to realize just how privileged she is.
One of the most important tensions on Gilmore Girls revolves around the fact that Lorelai has rejected her parents' money and prestige in favor of a "normal" life. As such, Lorelai raises Rory as a self-sufficient young woman, nurturing her talents and wanting the best for her. However, that "best" just happens to involve a super-expensive private school. Reenter the Gilmore grandparents and copious amounts of wealth, and an undeniable amount of privilege. Rory has a privileged position, no matter how hard she struggles to acknowledge it.
Having left home at 16 after she got pregnant with Rory, Lorelai carved out a life for herself and her daughter in Stars Hollow. This life involved hard work and determination. However, in Season 1 of Gilmore Girls, we find out that Rory has gotten into the prestigious Chilton Preparatory School, but Lorelai can't afford the tuition. Rory's dream is to attend Harvard (she eventually goes to Yale), and Chilton will give her the best chance at that. So Lorelai strikes a deal with her estranged parents: In return for school fees, she will attend a weekly Friday dinner at their house with Rory. Although Rory may be resistant to the wealth bestowed upon her, she doesn't refuse it. It is her right, after all. And it doesn't stop there.
Rory eventually gets offered admission at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. While the realism of a student in Rory's position getting into all three of these colleges can be called into question (TV isn't always realistic, y'all), her privilege comes into play the second she makes a choice and her grandparents cough up the cash once more. Plus, her grandfather is a legacy, which certainly helps her out. Even Rory's choice to go to Yale over Harvard is marred by privilege; her family went there, they are rich enough to pay for it, and it's close enough to home to still visit them. When Rory chooses Yale, she's inextricably tied to the family money, and any hope of being self-sufficient seemingly goes out of the window.
When Rory starts dating Logan, the heir to the Huntzberger fortune, she can no longer escape the life she was born into. If before she denied some of her ties to wealth, Logan opens her eyes to the life she could have if she just gave in to her privilege. Having never worked in her life (apart from that one day she spent volunteering), Rory moves in with Logan and takes a sought-after internship at a company of her choosing. Money isn't an issue for Rory; she literally doesn't have to think about it.
While the complaining on Gilmore Girls can be endearing, and is a trait which Rory has picked up from her mother, it becomes less cute the more that she succumbs to her privilege. And aside from the money, Rory was never in the gutter, right? Sure, she was raised by a single mother who had chosen to be financially independent from the family wealth, but Rory was always supported, looked after, and cared for. So what is this girl's problem?
As Jamie Leigh on HeadStuff points out,
"It doesn’t occur to Rory to get a summer job or internship until after all of her Yale acquaintances have already done so. At the beginning of her second year, she wails that the rest of the newspaper staff has 'had these amazing, productive summers … and me, the person who’s been talking about being a journalist her entire life, what did I do? I wasted two whole months running away to Europe.'"
Instead of being productive and not just relying on her privilege, Rory even finds time to complain about her choices. The fact that she spent the summer in Europe is incredible. Who else has the chance to do that? Not me.
Most of us would kill to have the opportunities Rory Gilmore had. And listening to Rory whine about her problems gets kind of old when most of us are still paying off our student loans. Ms. Gilmore will always and forever be one of my favorite characters on television, but sometimes, honestly, she was just the worst.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (3)