I stuck through “Gilmore Girls” even though Lorelai Gilmore seemed like the kind of person to tell you she didn’t study for the test when she really did, the kind to make you feel bad for pulling out a calculator to add up the bill plus the 15 % tip on top even though after dinner your mind can only do so much mental math and the kind of person to tell you she never said something so adamantly she’d make you question your own sanity for weeks on end so you’d ask yourself Did I really feel that and hear that and understand that? Over and over and over. Even though she really did say the thing she said she didn’t say.But Lorelai made up for everything in wit and it made her tolerable, charming even, so that liking Lorelai one day and despising her the next depended on the episode and your mood and whether you watched “Gilmore Girls” on a Wednesday or a Friday. Because Lorelai was so temperamental, paper-thin in that special sort of way, she rendered it almost impossible to cherish or hate or adore or even simply enjoy her in all her volatility. Her relationship with Rory was impactful, powerful, the mother-daughter duo America loved to love because Lorelai Gilmore named her daughter after herself and no one in the history of motherhood had ever done such a bold thing. It was genius, and it made watching their bond unfold and grow once a week an even more enjoyable prospect.
You do not grow to despise either Rory or Lorelai because they have never been the kind of characters with enough substance to follow, to unravel, unpin and untie, until you begin to realize you aren’t really liking what you’ve found. It is an instantaneous process, it happens between the span of one episode and another for you to realize, YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS ISN’T REALLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND. You begin to understand that Lorelai is filled to the brim with immaturity and that Rory is more of a mother than she ever will be and even more so, if Lorelai is this insufferable, then Rory must be a million times more unbearable. Rory is so smart and so pretty and she’s going to become the next Christiane Amanpour and Rory is just the most perfect, thoughtful, insightful teenager this country has ever seen. Except it was never really about the kind of person Rory Gilmore was, because nothing about a normal teenage girl from the East Coast was as ragingly fantastic as everyone had made it seem for so long, but it had everything to do with the position that Rory occupied. The grandparents that paid for a private school education, Stars Hollow, the blue house with the wrap-around porch and the very entirety of white womanhood gave her charm, the unabridged power and propriety that became so synonymous with what it meant to be Rory Gilmore. And to deny Rory such a thing is to reduce her to nothing.
And what about Lane Kim? Whatever happened to Lane Kim? Rory’s best friend forever and ever, the all-star supporting character of the 20th century. Lane Kim played in a rock band, and was cool with a capital C even when she was handing out fliers for her mother’s Seventh-day Adventist Church. She was able to straddle being a first-generation Korean-American, Stars Hollow in all of its entirety and her mother’s ever-watchful eye that made most viewers forget what it felt like to have a modicum of privacy and peace, all with remarkable ease. The Lane Kim we all knew hid her childhood, her interests, the things she loved most about life in her bedroom closet and under baseboards. But most of all, Lane was never allowed to be a woman, never allowed to love or learn or grow in the way that Rory was. And when you grow up on the periphery of someone like Rory Gilmore, almost there but never close enough, when you can never seem to belong, never seem to fit or be taken as you are, never allowed to truly be without a million and one strings attached, you get Lane Kim and you get Chastity from “10 Things I Hate About You” and you get Dionne from “Clueless” and you get every other token best friend, antagonist, fairy godmother, Extra Number 23, woman of color. So instead, you aggressively champion all the Rory Gilmore’s of the world. Convince yourself you see so many pieces of you in all of them, even though they were never designed for you and never think about women like you. And no one wants to end up being a Lane Kim, with your existence undesirable in every way, mostly, your only life’s purpose existing as a means to teach Rory or Cher or Bianca how to be a better person.
Lane Kim was written in a way that rendered her devoid of complexity and meaning. Show writers chose to portray her as a projection, a side extension of Rory Gilmore more than anything else. And because it seemed as if Lane Kim was nothing without Rory, much of the way her life unfolded was the will of what the show’s writers deemed a fulfilling future. And no one ever fought for Lane the way they did for Rory or Lorelai. Lane’s boyfriends were always missed attempts at love rather than full-fledged relationships. Rory had dreams, Rory went to Yale, Rory stole a yacht but it was okay because she was Rory Gilmore and Rory Gilmore has always been magnificent. Rory let her dreams fall apart on her own doing and Lane wasn’t allowed to dream. Lane never left Stars Hollow even though she so desperately wanted to and Rory came back because she really had nowhere else to go. And Rory Gilmore was allowed to fail, to fall apart and come undone, to not know any better, and Lane Kim never got the chance.
All my love to the Lane Kims of the world. Because they have always deserved so much more.
MiC Columnist Sarah Akaaboune can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.