Reframing Motherhood: The Importance of the “Gilmore Girls” Netflix Revival

By Sarah Blatt-Herold ’18

“Gilmore Girls” is coming back, and I’m pretty excited about it. There’s comedy, drama, and love; Luke and Lorelei’s budding relationship; Rory’s boy interests; a catchy theme song; lovable characters like Sookie; and questionable characters like Kirk. But despite the many reasons there are to love the show, whenever I think of “Gilmore Girls,” I think of my mom.

Like many TV shows with unique mother-daughter relationships, “Gilmore Girls” hits close to home. My mom and I watched it on school nights, staying up late and eating popcorn. Lorelei had her boy drama, my mom had hers, and I empathized deeply with Rory’s awkwardness.  

Some people have perfect, tight-knit families and some don’t, and I feel lucky to have had an unconventional relationship with my mom. As a three-year-old, I ran and joined her onstage at her college graduation. I was the maid of honor at her wedding. I held her hand when she delivered my sister, who is 16 years younger than me. I helped plan her 40th birthday party. She’s not just my mom; she’s my best friend.

“Gilmore Girls” is an example of an unconventional family that isn’t any better than “normal” families but isn’t any worse, either; it’s just different. Lorelei gets pregnant with Christopher when she is in high school, and, despite pressure from her family, does not marry him. Christopher, often absent, leaves Rory without a consistent father figure, and his and Lorelei’s on-and-off relationship keeps her from getting serious with anyone else. Rory and Lorelei grow up together, with Rory studying so she can get into Harvard and Lorelei working to open an inn all on her own. Viewers with similarly “imperfect” families feel camaraderie with the realities of single mothers and only children. My mom worked hard to finish college and grad school and to make money to support us. I loved books and studied hard like Rory.

Reality is socially constructed—what a family looks like, what motherhood looks like, the definition of success. My mom defined success as getting through a day of work and school and coming home to me, even when she was stressed and missing out on what were supposed to be the last years of her youth. For her, motherhood was reading to me from her law textbook and taking me for a late-night snack run to McDonald’s at midnight because we hadn’t seen each other all day and couldn’t sleep. To me, we had the perfect family.

Among the viewers of “Gilmore Girls” were families like mine, and re-watching it brings back beautiful memories of growing up alongside my mom: sometimes there were struggles, but always there was love. I’m sure there are others who experience a similar nostalgia when re-watching and re-re-watching all 153 episodes—nostalgia for imperfect families and abnormal childhoods. I think “Gilmore Girls” reminds us that we would never want to have grown up any other way: even if we could, we wouldn’t change a thing.    

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