It seems that with the upcoming Gilmore Girl Netflix revival decade-long shipper wars have been re-ignited. Now, objectively speaking, all of Rory Gilmore’s boyfriends are terrible in their own way, some just happen to be dreamier about it, but I’m Team Jess. Why? Because in the early-season war between Jess and Dean, Jess was always keen on treating Rory like an autonomous human being, and, looking back on episodes even now, it’s very plausible that Jess was right about Dean being sexist. OK, a lot of the following examples actually come before and after Jess’s stint in Stars Hollow. You know I just love to tussle your feathers about that rivalry.
More to the point, I’m getting a bit nit-picky, so you (five) Rory and Dean shippers will need to put your pitchforks and torches down. Still, this case study should showcase Dean’s bold sense of entitlement, his constant nice-guying, and his adherence to gender roles. Truth is, Dean has a hard time treating Rory as a real person with genuine interests and aspirations beyond their relationships, and his frustration when he becomes confronted with that reality is decidedly Not Cute.
Let’s delve into a few of the reasons why Dean may not be the feminist hero of this series.
1. That Whole Donna Reed Night Debacle Of Dean Liking To See A Woman Cook And Take Care Of Her Family
Lorelai and Rory, who for all intents and purposes kind of watch The Donna Reed Show ironically, are rightfully horrified by this sweet suggestion. He tries to cover it up by suggesting that maybe Donna Reed likes cooking and cleaning (and I guess we'd have to respect that choice) but, mmm, the damage is done.
2. After Rory Makes Him A Donna Reed Dinner She's Left Cleaning The Plates And He Takes Out The Trash
This one isn't too egregious after his whole "I like you the way you are speech," but just gonna keep it out there.
4. That Time He Broke Up With Her After She Wouldn't Say I Love You After He Built Her A Car
Aside from the fact that I maintain the car thing was going too far, this is one of many times Dean feels that his gestures deserve some sort of weird emotional cookie.
5. When He Watches Tristan Like A Hawk During "Romeo And Juliet" Rehearsals
There are all sorts of jealous feels going on, and Tristan was definitely antagonizing him about the situation, but it feels like there's a lack of trust there, like he wanted to make sure nothing weird was going on with his girl.
6. All The Weirdness He Has About Rory Wanting To Reach For The Stars And Pursue Her Ivy League Dreams
Academia is so clearly important to his girlfriend, and he occasionally gets pissy when she puts her studies, her extracurriculars et al before him. On the other hand, I remember that Jess basically scolded Rory into going back to Yale.
7. All The Pent Up Jess Jealousy
If Dean is seeing his girlfriend has these feels, then, on his end, he could've accepted that reality and broken up with her sooner, instead of parlaying a bunch of aggression on Jess. All of this was an objectively bad situation, that led to...
8. When Dean Broke Up With Rory During The Dance Marathon In Front Of Everyone
There was definitely a time and a place to do this, but the last straw is when Dean sees Rory seething at Jess loitering with his non-girlfriend. Dean basically freaks and publicly shames Rory for her feelings because how dare she not reciprocate his love. Not cool, man. Not cool.
9. When He Saw Jess Made Rory Upset At A House Party, He Decided To Bamboozle Jess In An Act Of Weird Pseudo-Chivalry
Which, you know, not only destroyed the house, but it wasn't his place to get involved in such a testosterone-addled way. It was up to Rory and Jess to work it out, not for him to come to her rescue.
10. His Entire Saga With Lindsay, Which Feels Like A Unironic Donna Reed Redux
Guys, it just feels like, post-Rory, he puts a ring on it (um, "it" being Lindsay's finger) because he wants someone of his own, bound in a real and true way. Then Lindsay stays at home and cooks roast beef for him, literally, which all feels very regressive. And all of a sudden Dean wants Rory back, and he acts on those feels by cheating on his wife, even though he would get infuriated about Rory and Jess's interactions. Double standard? Double standard.
11. And Finally, The Fact That His Fascination About The Way Rory Reads...
...always reminds me of this...
But, you know, whatever.
Sigh. At the end of the day, I'm sure we could chalk up Dean's behavior to being a teenage boy, or to quasi-reasonable jealousy, or, frankly, to flat-out jerkiness. But hey, maybe the years have made him a smidge more progressive. I guess we'll find out on our next return trip to Stars Hollow.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (11)