With fall in full swing, I thought it was appropriate to return to one of my favorite seasonal hobbies: rewatching “Gilmore Girls” for the millionth time. I can’t help it. I first saw the entire series in high school, and I immediately fell in love with it. Even though I now know every single thing that happens, there’s something about the small-town aesthetics and quirky characters that keeps me coming back. It’s the after-school special in my house: My mom, sisters and I go straight from the car to the couch, make a big bowl of popcorn and turn on our next episode.
But something changed during this latest rewatch. Maybe it’s because I’m a little older now, or maybe it’s because I’m watching the show with my own mom, but either way I have come to a very sad conclusion: Lorelai Gilmore kind of sucks.
I know what you’re thinking. How can a show’s main character be so bad? Let me just say that I still like the character. Lauren Graham is a great actress, and Lorelai still has plenty of endearing qualities. But it’s her flaws that make her unbearable at times (spoilers abound). Whether it’s her relationships with her family, friends or romantic partners, Lorelai is not the greatest.
- She doesn’t like that Rory has a better relationship with Richard and Emily than she does. (S1 E1, E3; S3 E8, E9)
Much of the conflict set up in the show surrounds Lorelai’s rocky relationship with her parents. When she gets pregnant at sixteen, she runs away from Richard and Emily’s elitist lifestyle to raise her daughter, Rory, herself. The only reason she goes back is to ask for money to cover Rory’s high school tuition — where the show begins. Emily, Lorelai’s mother, only agrees to loan her the money in exchange for regular contact with her and Rory. Lorelai’s dislike of the idea stems from her pride, which unfortunately sets a precedent for much of her behavior throughout the show.
Given that she had to make a new life for herself, it makes sense that she wants Rory to have more opportunities … unless they involve the elitist lifestyle of her parents. Anytime she sees Rory getting drawn to the lifestyle she herself detested, it results in some sort of petty fight. Richard and Emily are by no means perfect, but they just don’t want to see their daughter leave again. What Rory wants to do with her life should be her own decision, and to her credit, Lorelai does admit this eventually. But watching the constant back and forth between Lorelai and her parents gets exhausting over the show’s seven-season run.
- She’s a terrible friend to Sookie. (S4 E14; S6 E4)
Lorelai and Sookie spend the show’s first few seasons dreaming of opening an inn together. When they finally achieve that dream and Sookie misses an important meeting, Lorelai chews her out over not pulling her weight. Opening any new business is stressful, but so is having a newborn baby — and Sookie just had her first. She feels really bad about missing the meeting but is clearly exhausted, and instead of being understanding, Lorelai implies that Sookie should be focusing more on the inn since it’s more important. We never see her apologize, and it isn’t brought up again.
A couple of seasons later, Lorelai epitomizes the one-sidedness of their friendship even more. Sookie asks Lorelai and Rory to be the godmothers to her children in an attempt to resolve a tiff between the mother-daughter pair. But instead, Lorelai causes a fight in the middle of the baptism. She and Rory are literally holding the babies while they argue. It’s completely disrespectful to Sookie and her entire family. I’m amazed that Sookie excuses so much of her behavior.
- She treats Rory more like a friend than a daughter. (S5 E1)
Since Lorelai gave birth to Rory at such a young age, they have grown up together and are understandably a lot closer than other mothers and daughters. But whenever they fight, Lorelai continuously cuts Rory out instead of disciplining her or at least having a mature conversation. Lorelai only pulls the “mom card” in special circumstances, usually when she doesn’t want to talk about something. Rory screwed up big time when she slept with a married man (pun intended). But when she doesn’t want to talk about it, Lorelai freezes her out, stooping to the petty level of her 19-year-old. This is just one example of Lorelai initially being the voice of reason, but behaving poorly when things don’t go her way.
- She doesn’t respect Rory’s boyfriends. (S2 E5; S2 E19; S5 E19, E20)
Okay, Jess didn’t leave the best first impression. But keep in mind that when he first meets Lorelai, he’s just moved to their town, Stars Hollow, against his will. Add that to the fact that he comes from a troubled family, and his reaction makes a little more sense. But even after Rory asks Lorelai to give him the benefit of the doubt, she doesn’t put in that much effort. And whenever something goes wrong when Rory and Jess are both at fault, Lorelai immediately blames Jess and even Luke, her friend and Jess’s uncle, for pushing them together.
Her next boyfriend, Logan Huntzberger, treats Rory much better than Jess, but Lorelai takes a long time to warm up to him as well. His family runs in the same circles as Richard and Emily, and the other Huntzbergers don’t treat Rory well at all. This perfectly explains why Lorelai acts cold around Logan at first, even though he’s a good match for Rory and their relationship is relatively stable for the rest of the series. Looping Logan in with the rest of his family isn’t fair, which Lorelai of all people should understand.
- She has commitment issues that set a poor example for Rory. (S2 E3; S6 E22; S7 E1)
Max is Lorelai’s first significant relationship in the series, but she doesn’t treat him well at all.
She keeps going back and forth with him. The first time they get together, she freaks out and breaks up with him once things start to get serious. Then they get back together and even get engaged, but she barely gives any thought to what it’s going to be like once they get married. She keeps making jokes about the role Max will have after moving in, and when he calls her out on it she says it’s just because she’s “quirky.” Then, she bails on him days before the wedding! We never even get a breakup scene; she just runs. It’s frustrating to watch, especially because Max is such a good guy.
Even though everyone can see that she and Luke are made for each other, Lorelai doesn’t treat him well either. The most obvious example is after their engagement, when Luke finds out he has a daughter. Granted, he should have told Lorelai about April much sooner. But his anxiety over what to do next seems justified. Lorelai should have realized how much he had on his plate and just been there for him, instead of adding to his stress by giving him an ultimatum. When Luke shows up the next day to apologize and give her what she wants, he finds out that she slept with Rory’s father, Christopher, ruining everything. (Don’t even get me started on Christopher…) Lorelai claims that their relationship was over because Luke wasn’t fighting for her, but the final nail in the coffin was her fault, not his.
- She makes messes that Rory is left to clean up. (S5 E14; S6 E19)
Whenever Lorelai screws up, Rory usually has to pick up the pieces — and she’s a saint for doing it. A majority of these instances involve relationship struggles. When Lorelai and Luke break up for the first time, Lorelai handles the entire situation immaturely, chasing after him and pushing him to talk things out when he isn’t ready. Rory then has to leave school and run all over town to make sure her mother is okay. The breakup wasn’t fun to watch, but Lorelai was old enough to not act this way.
When Rory’s best friend Lane gets married, the scene that Lorelai causes is another prime example. After her own wedding gets postponed, she has good reason to be upset. But she goes a little overboard, giving a drunken toast where she rambles about how she won’t ever get married herself. Rory then has to pull her mother offstage in front of everyone at her best friend’s wedding. It isn’t fair for Rory to keep having to take care of her grown mother like that.
- She didn’t tell anybody when she and Luke got engaged. (S6 E2, E3)
This one makes me so angry that it deserves its own spot on the list. At this point in the series, Lorelai, Rory and Emily are in the midst of their biggest fight. Lorelai isn’t speaking to either of them (yet another example of her cutting people out when she doesn’t get her way). But for such a big milestone, it hurts to see Lorelai refusing to reach out and share the news. We even see how upset both Rory and Emily get after they find out (making this the second time that Lorelai has kept an engagement secret from Emily). In the episode right after, Lorelai tells Luke that she doesn’t want to move forward with planning the wedding until things are right with Rory again. But there are plenty of opportunities for Lorelai to bridge that gap herself, and she doesn’t.
Despite all of Lorelai’s annoying quirks, “Gilmore Girls” is still easily my favorite TV show. Nobody in the series is fully perfect — it’s a dramedy, after all. Each of the characters’ flaws makes them feel more real. Besides, my mom and I screaming at the TV every time someone messes up made rewatching it all the more entertaining.
Daily Arts Contributor Hannah Carapellotti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.