Design by Phoebe Unwin

Everyone knows that in the world of television, there are a few TV “greats” — a handful of cult classics that persist, year after year, snagging the top spots on fan-favorite lists and holding onto their places on streaming platforms with an iron fist. Think “Friends,” “The Office,” “M*A*S*H” or “The Sopranos,” to name a few. Everyone also knows that there’s a seasonal surge to these shows as well — it’s only right that when November rolls around you put on those Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends,” or when snow starts falling you obviously have to watch “The Office” Christmas specials. But when it comes to TV greats and cult classics, there’s one show that continues to have a massive seasonal resurgence, one largely regarded as the show to watch when the leaves start falling and the weather starts turning: “Gilmore Girls.” Once the threshold between summer and fall is crossed, it officially becomes Rory and Lorelai Gilmore season with an abundance of hot coffee, pretentious literature and cable-knit sweaters as far as the eye can see. My Instagram explore page is flooded with “Gilmore Girls” edits, and I can’t scroll through TikTok without catching a glimpse of a “Gilmore Girls” scene or someone arguing about Team Jess or Team Dean with enthusiasm reminiscent of the “Twilight” era (BTW, Team Jacob all the way). But no matter how many reels I see of clever Lorelai moments or Rory reading Sylvia Plath, I refuse to give in to this overhyped fall classic. I will not be watching “Gilmore Girls.”

For those even more unfamiliar than I am, here’s a general synopsis — and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. “Gilmore Girls” follows the spoiled small-town Stars Hollow sweetheart Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”), who lives a charmed life with the help of her wealthy grandparents’ pampering and her mother, Lorelai’s (Lauren Graham, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”) woeful ignorance of the ways of parenting. Rory is smart, responsible and driven, and is a star at almost everything she does… most of the time. “Gilmore Girls” chronicles Rory’s life as she stumbles and fumbles through adulthood, following her from a private prep school to Ivy League universities to her inevitable and dramatic fall from Stars Hollow’s grace. Full of questionable choices in men and plenty of quippy one-liners — and yes, lots of books and coffee and sweaters — “Gilmore Girls” is, on the surface, a great show to dive into when fall hits. Unfortunately, the cute town and comforting vibes of “Gilmore Girls” are left obsolete by the obnoxious and pretentious personalities of almost every single character that walks Stars Hollow’s streets. With every snippet of this fan-favorite show that sneaks its way onto my TikTok For You Page, I become more and more convinced that the characters of the so-called fall classic that is “Gilmore Girls” have absolutely zero redeemable qualities, and I just can’t force myself to ever endure the pain of watching the show in full. 

Now, I’m not saying this to be different, or cool, or “not like other girls.” My opinion on “Gilmore Girls” and its thoroughly obnoxious cast of characters is the definition of an outsider’s perspective, but it’s my opinion. It’s an opinion fueled by the seemingly endless stream of “Gilmore Girls” clips and media that have overtaken my social media platforms, giving me plenty of ammunition and plenty of irritation. One could argue that I need to watch the show in its entirety in order to obtain an informed opinion, or that I need to get to know the characters better before I pass my judgments. However, from what I’ve seen of the characters, I would like nothing less than to get to know them better, and from where I’m sitting, I think I’m fairly well-informed.

My misgivings about “Gilmore Girls” lie almost entirely on the shoulders of Rory, the show’s star and one of the titular Gilmore girls. Rory is entitled, spoiled and pretentious: Picture Kat Stratford, but oh-so-much-worse. At first, I found myself intrigued by her, wanting to relate to her and her deep love of literature and dye my hair her exact gorgeous color of cool mushroom brown. But after just a couple of Instagram Reels of “Gilmore Girls” material, I found her nothing but infuriating. Rory cruises through life, sailing on a yacht made out of her grandparents’ generational wealth, only to jump ship when life gets difficult (“Rory, why did you drop out of Yale?”). She drops out of a prestigious institution, she wrecks a married couple’s relationship, she leaves close friends out to dry — she’s annoying! While I, and many others, can relate to that feeling of gifted kid burnout, Rory’s carelessness just takes it to a whole new level — and the fact that I can glean that from a collection of information filtered through social media and some show clips on TikTok only puts me off of “Gilmore Girls” even more. From the scope of my limited knowledge, I can already tell you that I wish Rory’s best friend Paris (Liza Weil, “Scandal”) had gotten her own show instead of Rory’s disaster-fest. At some points, you can’t help but feel bad for Rory — and yes, maybe if I did watch the show I would feel some further inkling of sympathy for her and her terrible decision-making skills — but the core of her personality just makes that all but impossible. No matter how much I love oversized sweaters or dark academia.

Of course, I can’t put the full blame for my distaste for “Gilmore Girls” on Rory’s shoulders. She is, after all, merely a product of her environment, one constructed principally by her mother. Although Lorelai is hilarious and relatable with her caffeine addiction and mommy issues, she is an unbelievably irresponsible tragic parental figure. Sure, she has some good quips that even made me laugh, and yes, her mother-daughter bestie relationship with Rory is, at times, very sweet — but good one-liners do not make a good person, and certainly not a good or enjoyable character either. Then of course there’s Lorelai’s own relationship with her parents, one that has been unstable at best since she got pregnant with Rory at 16. While the relationships and dynamics between family members in “Gilmore Girls” would normally be an interesting subject for analysis, the show seems to simply trudge through years and years of conflict with little to no resolution, creating endless tension that I simply have no desire to watch. 

Perhaps my perception of “Gilmore Girls” may be unnecessarily negative. I’m sure the show has its ups and downs, just as the characters’ lives do and just as our real lives do. Maybe if I had been a teenager when the show first aired in 2000, in all of its low-rise jeans glory, I would have watched the show from the start, intrigued by the warm atmosphere of Stars Hollow and the seemingly endearing mother-daughter duo of Lorelai and Rory that has grown to be so iconic in pop culture. However, with the power of social media aiding in my thorough knowledge of “Gilmore Girls” and its full plot, I can safely say that I remain uninterested in ever pursuing a fall binge session of “Gilmore Girls,” no matter how aesthetically pleasing it may seem. So please, TikTok — and you too, Instagram — get Rory Gilmore off my For You Page.

Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at currana@umich.edu.