If you’ve watched Gilmore Girls, you’re bound to have had a strong reaction to Rory's frenemy, Paris. She's the emotional equivalent of grapefruit; either she leaves a sour taste or you find her acridly refreshing. Basically, it’s hard to feel anything moderate for the character. But ever since the revival came out last year, I've been thinking about whether Paris Geller really changed on Gilmore Girls since the series’ earliest days, or if she's the same old overachiever battling serious control issues.
On reflection, Ms. Geller’s metamorphosis was subtle, but it was definitely there, especially in the Gilmore Girls revival. At this point, you might be shaking your head in disagreement. Did this clueless writer even watch the new Netflix series? What about Paris' high-maintenance behavior? Her meltdown in the bathroom with Rory, the empty briefcase she was carrying around as a status symbol because she cared so damn much what everyone else thought of her? What about the fact that she couldn’t even muster up the cojones to talk to Tristan Dugray, her former high school crush?
However, ultimately the revival signals how far this character has come. The Paris who was once a catastrophe away from completely losing it was gone. Because in the end, it actually seemed like Paris was far more in control of her life than Rory ever was.
1Paris Eased Up On The Girl Hate
Remember when Paris’ only female friends were women she seemed to feel nothing but contempt for? While Madeline Lynn and Louise Grant were great, their passion for fashion and boys and relative disinterest in the stuff Paris got excited about didn’t seem like a great recipe for the friendship of a lifetime. It felt like possibly Paris only kept them around as friends because she didn’t feel threatened by them. But her friendship with someone she once considered her greatest rival suggested her growing self-confidence.
2She Loosened Up
When we first meet Paris, she’s got a permanent stick up her butt, and all she wants to do is study and have extracurricular activities to count toward her application to college. In Season 6, she allows herself to go to spring break, and even makes out with Rory (albeit super briefly).
3She Gained Confidence With Men
Remember that overly long period when Paris’ universe revolved around that department store mannequin in a blazer, Tristan? And how even though he didn’t give her the slightest scrap of attention or interest, she kept on crushing? Thank god for her relationship with Doyle, which taught her to express her needs every bit as much with a romantic partner as she did with Rory.
4She Figured Out What She Wanted From A Career
When we first meet Paris, it’s newspapers or nothing. Then, after graduating Yale, she ends up deciding to go to medical school. When we jump into the present with Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, we learn she runs her own fertility clinic, which presumably combines the bossing people around she enjoyed so much from her newspaper days with her medical interests.
5Little Miss Privilege Developed Class Consciousness
While we know that Paris preempts the first time she has sex with Doyle by “discussing modern-day Marxism in America,” she doesn’t seem particularly interested in the rich-poor divide until, surprise surprise, she becomes poor. When her parents “flip the bird at the IRS one too many times” in Season 6, the IRS freezes the Geller family’s bank accounts and Paris is forced to get her first job, serving food at a Daughters of the Revolution function — a shift that forces her to admit “Karl Marx has come alive for me today.”
6She Got Famous Friends
Remember how College Paris only seems to have two friends, one of whom is her friend from school, Rory, and the other who’s her boyfriend? The 2016 revival of the series suggests how far Ms. Geller came when she states she’s “got to get [herself] together” for a panel discussion that’s being moderated by Lena Dunham, who “cannot see [her] like this.”
7She Got Better At Processing Her Feelings
Sure, in A Year In The Life she freaks out upon seeing her old crush Tristan when giving a talk at Chilton, and her reaction’s as intense as any from teenaged Paris might have been. But this time she verbalizes what she’s going through. “What am I feeling? I’m feeling fear and loneliness and heartache… My hands are shaking, my heart is pounding.” For someone who hated seeming vulnerable, the fact that she can admit these feelings to herself and Rory is a big deal.
8She Became Maternal
OK, so Paris is a little too dependent on her nanny. But it bothers her that her kids are so emotionally reliant on their nanny, and she’s surprisingly sunny around them in the moment Doyle brings them home. This side of her is unexpected considering mid-‘00s Paris, who was all about her career and seemed to place less importance on family.
9She Got Really Comfortable With Plastic Surgery
Paris is all about getting “nips and tucks” when she feels they're needed.
10She Battled Different Problems
Remember mid-‘00s Gilmore Girls, when Paris’ biggest problems were posed by herself? Her competitive nature, her bracing honesty, her paranoia? Well, happily for Paris, in the present day she has a far more manageable nemesis. In the episode "Spring" in A Year In The Life, Doyle and Paris both seem terrified of the stairs in their house. For some reason, whenever they send their nannies upstairs, the nanny quits. The fact that Paris’s greatest problem is something external suggests how far she’s come with battling her more challenging characteristics.
11She Changed Her Relationship With Luke
One of the running jokes on the original series was that Paris would constantly interrupt Luke when he spoke. In “Winter,” we get to see Paris and Luke interact, and while, OK, they’re not best friends, Paris’ attitude toward him is much more respectful. She even makes small talk with him (“How are you, Luke?”) and actually waits for him to respond. This is a whole new woman.
12She Became More Compassionate
She never seemed to appreciate Lorelai’s efforts over the years when she was at high school with Rory. But when we see Lorelai and Luke meet with Paris for a fertility consultation, she insists on personally handling their case. (“You were practically my second mother.”) While her tone might be a little rough round the edges (“I’m not letting any of those bottle-service bimbos carry your baby”), her intentions are clear: She wants to give Lorelai and Luke the best possible fertility service for the lowest price. Paris doing a nice thing for someone who isn’t Rory feels a little alien, and it shows how far she’s come.
13She Became More Independent
The way the formerly needy Paris Geller talks about her divorce feels worlds away from the last time she broke up with Doyle. She’s wryly funny about his evolution (“He’s a screenwriter, Rory. Have you been to the movies recently?”), and while she’s sad about the divorce, she also seems to be coping pretty well with it.
So raise your glasses for the most underrated character in Gilmore Girls, ladies and gentlemen. Paris Geller grew even more than you probably thought she could.