Even good girls can grow into debatable women. Perhaps all the more so for they have so much to live up to. Perfect GPA’s. Perfect skin. Perfect relationship track records. Which is why Amy Sherman Palladino’s TV character Rory Gilmore is of interest. She started out as the archetypal good girl. Good at school. Good to her grandparents. Good at being good. And she dated a nice guy too. Kudos to her.
But then she grew up. Life got complicated. She fell in love with someone else who was, I have to say it, a hell of a lot more interesting. She broke someone’s heart. Had hers broken by said more interesting guy. She went to college. Cheated with her ex. Stole a boat. Lost her confidence. Found solace in a beautiful rich boy with few morals and a lot of cash.
Fast forward to The Revival where she’s in her early 30’s. She’s dating someone so forgettable the joke is she doesn’t recall his name and leaves him behind at coffee shops. She’s still sleeping with said beautiful rich boy (now man) even though he is engaged to someone else. She is The Other Woman. Her career is on the edge of that much touted End of Journalism as we Know It. She ends up with no job. Moves back home. Fights with her mother. Tap dances at 1am. Gets pregnant. The latter two points not necessarily related.
I guess what i’m trying to say is that Rory Gilmore is both a fictional character and a trope. As a trope she is the aforementioned Good Girl we all (supposedly) are meant to aspire to be. As a character she is messy and real and human and actually, i found, kind of unlikable as a fully-grown woman.
This felt like an enormous relief. Because living up to trope Rory Gilmore is next to impossible. It makes us feel like we’ve failed before we start. Because we’ve had acne or didn’t date during high school or didn’t get A’s in calculus. We’re already never perfect. We can try to be good. And that is an admirable goal and one I fully support but perfect is to set yourself up for failure. And that sucks. It really, really does. To be a loser before you’ve even begun.
Fictional character Rory is however richer. More meaty as it were. She seems lighter in some ways. Heavier in others. And i don’t just mean in the boob department; actress Alexis Bledel in the break between series and revival had a kid so you know…
Adult Rory wavers like a star struck teenager at a rock concert, dithering to surge forward with the crowd and meet the Rock God they have been worshipping for years. Whose music got them through a hell of a lot of crap. We don’t know all of Rory’s crap in the preceding decade but we assume there has been some, least of all the death of her beloved grandfather Richard. There’s definitely been loss. We assume several levels of heart break.
But in watching her flail as an-early-thirty-year-old it made me as a late-twenties-woman feel better because here, finally was a Rory i could imagine being friends with. The sort of friend you definitely don’t like all the time. Who you may find annoying and love to hate but a friend none the less because she screws up and gets drunk and sleeps with Wookie’s and needs to stay with you when she fights with her mum just like she did when you were both sixteen and didn’t know any better.
Now you both should know better and yet there are still fights and running away and you both make all sorts of mistakes but you’re in it for the long haul. As we were for seven seasons and a revival’s worth of Rory.
A constant for Rory, both the girl we know and the woman she grows into being, who we get to see a glimpse of in the Revival, is that she writes. This love of words, of literature, of exploring the world through writing is a quality I hope she will always cultivate. Both as trope (the Quiet Reading Chick and Smart Girl) and as a character where she starts to find herself again when she starts writing a book about her life growing up with Lorelei Gilmore as a mother.
That is one story I would love to read even though it’s a made-up book in a TV universe. But why is this imaginary book on my To Read list?
Because I am The Quiet Reading Chick.
Because I am The Smart Girl.
Because I am the Rory who is beginning to find out about herself through the words she writes. That is, telling her own story and not just those of others.
Because I was a Good Girl.
And because now I am proud to call myself a debatable woman.