Of all the plot twists that the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival could have thrown at us, Rory Gilmore being a failed journalist is definitely not one of them. Academically, Rory was sleepy Stars Hollow's No. 1 overachiever. So, imagine my surprise when, inside the print copy of Friday's Entertainment Weekly, the heartbreaking spoiler 2016 edition, Rory is a failed journalist is right there to be found. "Rory's one article published in The New Yorker hasn't exactly helped her journalism aspirations, and she's living a vagabond life and not seeing much of her mom." Living a vagabond life? Not seeing much of her mom?!
OK. Breathe. Let's think about this. Maybe it actually makes sense — print is a dying medium, after all. In fact, you guys, I hate to concede winning character analysis points to an overprivileged, abrasive millionaire white dude, but Mitchum Huntzberger called it first back in Season 7 after Rory interned at his Stamford Gazette. If you don't recall, he said he didn't think she had "what it takes" to make it as a journalist. Now, I'm thinking that maybe when Huntzberger said that, he hadn't meant it personally, but instead as a reflection of the way the tide was turning in the world of journalism, so to speak. After all, it's been nine years since Gilmore Girls ended and journalism has changed a lot since then. I would argue that Rory's failure to achieve her dream was definitely not due to lack of smarts or effort, but simply a realistic reflection of the job market.
In fact, I'd go even further as to say that this is the most realistic contemporary TV storyline of 2016.
Unlike Logan, who would undoubtedly do well after the recent rise of startups in the American economy, it didn't matter how hard Rory studied or what internships she did. Heck, the girl made editor at the Yale Daily News — what's a more exclusive student-level résumé entry than that? In this climate, talented journalists are being laid off every day. Take real-life journalist, Christina Patterson: She worked at the prominent British newspaper The Independent for 10 years, and was the only woman to make it onto the 2013 shortlist for prestigious journalism award the Orwell prize. But, she was still laid off from The Independent in 2013, and she now works as a freelancer — something she wrote heartbreakingly about in The Huffington Post that same year:
... my career as a journalist on a national newspaper seemed to have come to a sudden end. Since then, I’ve done what freelancers do. I’ve sent a lot of emails. I’ve had a lot of meetings. I’ve discovered, as freelancers apparently often do, that most of your working hours, at least for the first few months of being freelance, are spent trying to get work. You can only do the work — or start to do the work — when the working day ends. Which means, or seems to mean, you end up working pretty much all the time.
Rory was interested in political journalism: We last saw her headed off to cover Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2007. There's no way Rory would ever have considered working for a tabloid just to make ends meet — and, it's worth keeping in mind that the last few years have been particularly cruel to American broadsheets. This rather sobering article from The Guardian reports that, "in the past decade, as a percentage, more print journalists have lost their jobs than workers in any other significant American industry." Nieman Lab takes the statistics released in the 2015 annual census release from the American Society of News Editors to argue that should the journalism continue to decline as quickly as it has done in 2015, that "we’ll have one-half the number of daily journalists working in 2016 or 2017 as we did 16 years ago." (The 2016 census has not yet been released, so we'll have to wait on this one.)
As such, Rory's current career status seems perfectly in line with the reality of what it means to want to be a serious political journalist today. There simply isn't the budget that there once was for in-depth investigative features. So if you're a Rory Gilmore grade-A student who's been trying and failing to break into journalism and you're reading this, don't get sad. For once this phrase is 100 percent true: It's not you, it's them.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures (3); Giphy (1)