Amy Sherman-Palladino, why did you treat Rory so badly? How did Rory go from an introverted, rule-following, appreciative, thankful bookworm who was raised, for most of her life, by a young mother who gave up financial security in exchange for a world in which she lived by her rules, instead of the those of her classist family’s, to a ne’er-do-well?
When Rory, age 14, is accepted into a top prep school, Lorelai, the prodigal daughter, returns to her family’s home to ask for a loan to pay the tuition. Lorelai has exhausted all other options before facing her parents, Richard and Emily Gilmore, and trading money for an inroad into their lives, especially Rory’s.
She understands that she’s hit the ancestral lottery in being a Gilmore, but she’s one of those people who will always be trying to prove to herself, to her grandparents, and to the world that she is worthy of the Gilmore name.
When we last see Rory, she is boarding a bus to cover Senator Obama’s campaign for the presidency. She has just graduated from Yale with a journalism degree, an itch to travel and a yearning to write her articles sure to be published in the New Yorker. She has also just refused an engagement to her boyfriend, Logan—a spoiled trust-fund kid who will surely have a number of trophy wives in his future—so, a good call there, Rory. He was the third boyfriend in a line of starter/practice/training wheel partners. There was the beginner boyfriend, super sweet Dean, who was of sturdy stock, and would make his trade union proud one day—and bore Rory to pieces. Then there was troubled boy, Jess–a Hunter S. Thompson-type, who would write his subversive rants about the hierarchical social structure in the typical tech company while living in the basement of a condemned building in the Bronx. He’s the guy you spend a crazy few weeks with, but not a lifetime. Then finally, Logan—the kind of privileged young man who can lose a few million of his father’s money on a poor investment and then go gambling in Atlantic City to boost his spirits.
Jump to now: Logan is working in the London office of his family’s business, engaged to a French heiress and … is cheating on his fiancée, WITH RORY, despite Rory having a nice albeit boring boyfriend, Paul. Yuk!
Rory has given up her Brooklyn apartment and moved back home. She has a few memorable bylines but there’s no mention of having worked full time in a benefited position as a writer or journalist or having published any books.
As she’s unpacking her boxes, she says to her Mom, “I kind of think it’s exciting, you know, no apartment, no rent, no ties, I could crash here, I could crash at Lane’s. I think this is my time to be footloose and see where life takes me. Traveling to wherever there is a story to write.”
No, Rory. No!
That time was during your first couple of years after college, not a decade out of college. Your mom gets to have a life, considering all of the sacrifices she has made for you, and Lane and Zack are in a tiny house raising their two boys. Lane works in her mother’s antique shop and Zack has a 9-to-5 soul-killing job (and body-and face-killing, seriously, he looks old and beaten down). I don’t understand why Amy would have Rory, who was uber responsible as a child, become a Narcissus-type slacker.
Rory was a prodigy, always finishing first in her classes, being the editor-in-chief for the Yale Daily News and valedictorian, and getting into every ivy-league school to which she applied, but now she’s just a generational cliché, a boomerang kid –moving back in with her mother, after not quite making it in the real world. Rory deserved better. Why did Amy decide to make her a cautionary tale about what happens when you do too much for your kids or tell them they’re singularly special? When did the talented, brainy, driven Rory give up her ambition? I’ll forgive her disastrous love life if she sacrificed it for her career, but that’s not it. She’s adrift and has been making poor choices for years. Why Amy, why?
The big finish is Rory deciding to write a memoir about herself and appropriate her mother’s story along the way, despite her mother’s protests. I’m not sure that’s the best use of a jobless person’s time. Given that she doesn’t have the writerly past we had hoped for, I’m not sure who is going to publish this book, let alone read it. It doesn’t seem like proof that she’s turned a successful corner.
In Rory’s story, Amy hit a nerve by tapping into one of my greatest fears as a devoted parent: Is it possible to provide your kids with too much comfort, engender too much confidence?
Make them think that the world is their oyster and they, alone, are its most precious pearls? You make them feel as though every decision they make will be brilliant simply because it is they who are making it. Every generation wants their children to have an easier time than they did, but maybe part of our strength, resiliency, fortitude, creativity and compassion is due to the struggles we’ve faced and survived. When we fell, our parents let us figure out how to get back up on our own rather than always picking us up. We possessed basic survival skills as well as common sense. When we got too big for our britches, they let the world remind us about the importance of humility. Are we robbing our kids of all this? I’m worried that kids no longer know how to rescue themselves.
When I hear Rory tell her mom, “I’m pregnant,” I fear I’m right.