Gilmore Girls is an overall portrayal of a white, upper-middle class, small-town suburban American society. From these limitations, audiences can derive much from the identities omitted. Sex, gender, race and ethnicity, and class are by definition excluded and marginalised from realistic conservative American contexts; which Stars Hollow serves as. Presenting this exclusion in popular media may be realistic, but it does not serve to advance its political discourse or contribute to ending the marginalization. Gilmore Girls also emerged within the context of the decade the 2000s, which must influence its limitations. One contextual factor for instance which may be critical, is the Global Financial Crisis. This had not fully affected America by the time of the show’s closure; and therefore may not yet have affected the utopic high wealth and low wealth inequality of the society portrayed. Still, during its running, Gilmore Girls occupied a privileged space of potential influence, with a progressive fan base of viewers as committed to Gilmore Girls as some were to feminist and other issues of marginalization. However, the show did not reach its full potential in this sense.
It did, however, reach its potential to entertain, humour, and bring happiness to its huge number of viewers. The actress of Lorelai herself has been quoted saying for every episode, “For the first 25 minutes, nothing happens. You just meet these charming people… You would never have that today! There would have to be explosions before the first commercial.” Gilmore Girls is a recluse, and a distraction from the viewers’ more realistic struggles. It also provided unique representation of a strong dominance of female relations, including mother-daughter and friendships, prioritised over heterosexual love stories. This has been precious particularly to female viewers and their female relationships. Lastly, the series ended with Rory conclusively choosing following her career path over a future connected with her boyfriend’s plans. Although once again constrained with neoliberal boundaries, its ending suggests the show’s commitment to transgressing women’s roles within nuclear families, to independent female empowerment.
Gilmore Girls is emblematic of the phenomenon termed; “Your Fave is Problematic”. This refers to almost all role models, celebrities or popular culture as, intentionally or unconsciously, contributory to dominating societal systems of injustice and oppression towards marginalized groups. However, this essay argues we may not have to deny enjoyment of popular culture. Those committed to feminist or other issues of inequality do not have to avoid all forms of pleasure from popular culture in order to be ‘the perfect feminist’, or the perfect social activist; nor must we preach guilt to our activist peers that they may not enjoy popular culture. Admittedly, this may not be the strongest stance against or rejection of societies’ perpetualised sex, gender, race, ethnicity and class inequalities. However, as it is to work against these structural oppressions, it is just as critical to deconstruct and confront the systems which perpetuate them. This includes popular culture; and this must be carried out as opposed to rejecting, ignoring or not confronting them.
Further, the Gilmore Girls reunion was confirmed and began filming in 2016. This has the potential to reveal causes of its prior discriminations perpetuated. If its early-2000s context is the exclusive causality of its conservative marginalizations, then a future Gilmore Girls may progress beyond misrepresentation of cis-feminist, sexual, race, and class identities. The committed Gilmore Girls audience will await this potential progression.
Oluo, I. (2015, March 31). Admit It: Your Fave Is Problematic. Retrieved from https://medium.com
Stern, D. M. (2012). It Takes a Classless, Heteronormative Utopian Village: Gilmore Girls and the Problem of Postfeminism. The Communication Review, 15(3)