11 Things Gilmore Girls Taught Me About Life

In honor of October 1st, also known as the day that Gilmore Girls drops on Netflix, here are some of the most important life lessons I learned from the show that effectively shaped my middle school and high school years.
Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls

1. There is nothing wrong with being close to your mom.

My mom is my best friend and I will loudly proclaim it from any rooftop. While this would likely be true regardless of whether I spent every Tuesday night in the early 2000s glued to the TV watching Lorelai and Rory spit bits and wit faster than lightening, there was something about their incredible mother-daughter bond that influenced every mother daughter pair watching. Their relationship was so enviable and so aspirational that it made it okay and cool for an entire generation of awkward middle school girls to stop pretending to hate their moms (cuz of teen angst duhhh) and acknowledge them not only as the superheroes that they are, but also as real people actually capable of being your friend.

2. Relationships are complicated.

As crazy as this sounds, I really felt as if Rory and Lorelai and the entire world of Stars Hollow were real, and while I might not have been a part of it, that it really did exist and the things going on represented real life. Watching the trials and tribulations of the GG characters was one of my first exposures, or rather conscious exposures, to the fact that not all things are cut and dry. Between romantic relationships, Rory and Lorelai’s relationship, and of course Lorelai’s ever tumultuous relationship with Emily and Richard, accurate portrayals of what real life relationships look like emerged. From the ongoing discussion of Rory’s favorite boyfriend (none were perfect), to Lorelai’s on-again-off-again romance with Christopher (who despite his infinite faults you can’t entirely hate), to of course the fallout and reuniting of Rory and Lorelai during her Yale days, Gilmore Girls showed me that real life relationships are nuanced far beyond what we want to claim is right or wrong.

3. No one is perfect, but that doesn’t make them bad.

Amy Sherman-Palladino made me fall in love with these beautiful, interesting, funny characters and then made them do things that rather than good, were real, often meaning bad, and I had to reevaluate whether you can ever cast someone as simply good or bad. As a little kid, this is an important lesson to learn because for so long you are taught that there is only good or bad, and as anyone who has moved past childhood knows, this is simply not true. I still remember my internal debate after Rory lost her virginity to Dean while he was married to Lindsey. I LOVED Rory, I associated with her, and watching her cheat with a married man really pushed and challenged my black and white brain into shades of gray.

4. If you love someone enough, you can overcome any fight.

Watching Lorelai and Rory fight over the stealing of the yacht killed me. My mom and I actually sat there and cried, both in the poignant moments apart where they so clearly missed each other and in the stunningly beautiful moment where they reunited with Rory pulling up in the driveway. For so long I thought fights meant the end of something. Not every fight, but fights of the magnitude of theirs. I thought if you did something bad there was no coming back. The conversations I had with my mom during this time period were probably some of the most important I’ve ever had with her regarding our relationship and what it means to love someone unconditionally.

5. True love wears a backwards baseball cap and a flannel.

Luke Danes was the first man I fell in love with in a long-term marriage material kind of way. Every celebrity crush I’d had before was superficial, based on glitz, glam, and muscles. While Luke is certainly nothing to scoff at in the looks department, he was surly, and grumpy, and awkward. His appeal came from the fact that he was a truly good person. He cared in little ways like remembering Rory’s breakfast order to building Lorelai the huppah. Soft spoken and gruff, he had a gentle soul and was a romantic at heart (can we please remember the horoscope he saved??). Luke taught me that true love is in the little gestures and often can be found not in game and cockiness, but a mean cup of coffee.

6. Not everyone has the same definition of fun or cool and reading is sexy.

If there was ever any character to break down the stereotypical archetype of the popular girl in high school it is Rory Gilmore. While obviously Alexis Bledel is gorgeous, Rory never flaunted this — she was bookish and conservative and made this seem cool as all hell. She taught an entire generation of bookworms that this was okay and it was cool to be themselves (and that several gorgeous men will fall in love with you because of this). More than anything Rory very rarely fell victim to peer pressure. Even in college she barely drank or did typical “college things” as portrayed in the media and seemed to have a great time. The best example of this is when she and Paris decide to go on Spring Break only to spend the whole time holed up in their room watching the Power of Myth. While not everyone’s cup of tea, Rory’s interest in reading and academics showed something very rarely found on tv: a well liked normal down to earth girl.

7. Eating is sexy.

In an age where fad diets were all the rage and skinny was synonymous with sexy, GG threw a big f-you to the media that was trying to get everyone to starve themselves by actually eating on the show. And not just eating, but eating crap. And never talking about feeling fat, or how they shouldn’t have eaten that, or what they’re going to do to work it off but rather what they’re going to ingest next. While anyone can point out that Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are skinny Hollywood actresses who probably don’t eat like that, I’m not talking about what they taught me, but what the Gilmore girls taught me, which is that it is okay to eat. Watching this show during “my transformative years” as they’re called (ew) actually fostered a really healthy attitude towards food – not that I should eat twizzlers and Al’s Pancake World all that time, but that eating should not be the enemy and food is happiness.

8. The plural of cul-de-sac, is culs-de-sac.

Thank you Rory.

9. A great guy is not always the right guy.

Naked guy, also known as Marty was a great dude. He was humble, a loyal friend, a hard worker, and a total cutie pie. On paper, objectively the “right” kind of guy to date. Rory though preferred Logan, who controversial character he was – sometimes a total douchebag, and sometimes an amazingly sweet guy, actually made more sense for Rory than Marty. This weird relationship dynamic made me realize that there is more to relationships than what you think you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to be with. There is some sort of intangible connection or fire that doesn’t always make sense logically, but when acted out in real life makes a lot of sense. Also exemplified in the Dean versus Jess dilemma.

10. If you lead, I will follow.

The anthem of true love. Not in a romantic way, but in a mother-daughter way, and a best friend way. I cannot help but think of my mom and my friends every time I hear Carole King’s voice and how I would follow them anywhere and I know the same is true of them.

11. Sometimes you just need your mom.

This is a lesson shown time and time again in GG but best in the episode in which Rory leaves for Yale. As my mom and I watched Rory call back Lorelai and them spend the first night in Rory’s dorm together rating all the delivery boys, both of us, for the first time, started to contemplate the idea of being apart when I left for college in several years. GG always showed that while sometimes you just need your mom, she also may just need you. I call my mom often from my university, often over very trivial things. Whenever I do so, I can’t help but think of Rory calling her mom while her dud of a date was in the bathroom and getting advice on how to get him to move to the other side of the table. What GG did best was show, with extreme accuracy, the nuanced and tumultuous love that exists between mothers and daughters, and for that I am so so grateful. TC mark

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