The year is 2008, and I am 10 years old, in the age of teetering innocence. It’s a time for timid crushes and passed notes. It’s a time for growth spurts and blue braces. It’s a time when long recesses were a given and being line leader was the highest honor bestowed. It’s a time when, arguably, we are in our most vulnerable, impressionable state.
It is fifth grade, and I am annoying as hell. I spend my days in elementary school, sitting at my desk with my chin in my palm, daydreaming about going home and curling up on our the brown leather couch to watch my favorite TV show, which airs on ABC Family every night at five o’clock on the dot – Gilmore Girls.
I don’t know how the addiction began, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I got hooked on the witty banter, the unique characters, the compelling story of a single mother and her teenage daughter, taking on Stars Hollow, and the world, together. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore had stolen my heart – and an hour of my day.
People often associate Gilmore Girls with the thrilling love interests that circulate these two women’s lives. Team Logan or team Jess? Team Luke or team Chris? And I will admit, it is easy to get caught up in Lorelai and Rory’s whirlwind romances, which are major storylines that run deep throughout the course of the show. However, there is so much more to the story of these two amazing women than marriage proposals and one night stands.
Lorelai Gilmore. A woman that is undoubtedly strong, persistently determined, fiercely caring and absolutely resilient in every way. She speaks her mind – and speaks it fast – without worrying what others will think. She works insanely hard to achieve her dreams, but more importantly, to give her daughter nothing short of the world, from a pop culture education to an ivy league one.
Rory Gilmore. A soft-spoken and intelligent girl who I watched transform into an independent and successful woman over the course of seven years. Rory is kind, quietly driven and intensely loyal in every aspect of her life. The opposite of Lorelai, she wants nothing more than to please everyone around her, before ultimately realizing in the final episode of the show that the most important person she has to please is herself.
I watched these two astounding and empowering female characters light up the screen throughout my fifth grade year without a second thought. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized just how vital they had been to an impressionable young girl like myself.
It’s rare nowadays – or at all – to find a TV show or movie with more than one intriguing and complex female lead. I will acknowledge that in recent years, the phenomenon of writing female characters is growing, with shows such as Orange Is the New Black and movies such as Bridesmaids, but it is imperative that there be more.
Some may say that Amy Sherman-Palladino was far ahead of her time, but I believe that everyone else is simply behind. We must fill the gaping void of female characters that plagues the media today. It is so important to give women – young and old – realistic female characters that inspire and relate to them.
If I didn’t have Rory and Loralei Gilmore, who did I have? Zack and Cody? Drake and Josh? Phineas and Ferb? Granted, these were all fantastic shows of this age in their own unique ways, but what would I, as a young girl craving encouragement and inspiration, have taken away from primarily male-dominated stories?
I realize now that having Gilmore Girls in my life was tremendously important in shaping the woman I am today. It gave me remarkable and successful female role models to look up to in a time of great curiosity and fascination.
Gilmore Girls taught me how to be unafraid of speaking my mind. To make beautiful, horrible mistakes in order to learn. To be strong enough to fall apart and then put myself back together again. To be brave in the presence of fear. To know when to put others before myself, and myself before others. To go after what I want wholly and unapologetically. To love deeply, work diligently, live widely and – most importantly – talk fast.
As Rory so eloquently stated of her mother, role model and best friend, Loralei, in her high school graduation speech, Gilmore Girls “never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be.”