Throughout the whole seven seasons, Gilmore Girls holds just five non-white recurring characters. One is Michel, and the others are Lane, and her mother Mrs Kim; the town’s mechanic Gypsy; and Oscar, Luke’s cook. However, the Kim’s are the only minority characters fully developed over the series, while the others are more background characters whom the audience engages little with. The Kim’s are a somewhat typical American-centric framework of Asian-American identity. Mrs Kim’s is the role of stereotypical Christian Korean mother; extremely strict, conservative and traditional. The second generation, Lane, was presumably born in America. She consequently adopts a somewhat postracial identity, rejects most aspects of her Korean culture, and desperately seeks to Americanize her identity. In Lane’s first appearance, she chooses to wear a “Woodstock” top, which she will later hide from her parents. She and Rory joke about her Korean mother’s intensely long-term plans to match-make her with a Korean future doctor. In the following scene, the strong bond between Rory and her mother begins to reveal; leading to the first of the audiences’ many comparisons between this, and Lane’s relationship with her mother. Further, Lane’s character recognises these comparisons for herself as well. Throughout many first episodes of Season 1, she experiences how “I get jealous sometimes” of her American best friend. “I mean, you seem to have this really great life going and I don’t really fit in there.” She’s explicitly referring to Rory’s American boyfriend, which Lane craves over her mother’s strictly Korean choices, as well as Rory’s close relationship with her family.

In Season 4, Lane’s mother makes her move out over tensions about Lane’s rock band, and we meet her cousin Christine as she helps her move out. Both girls are extremely sober, meek and submissive around the Korean relatives. However alone together Christine transforms, relating to Lane as an Americanized second-generation of oppressive Korean background. Surprising after the girl we met scared surrounded by Koreans, Christine’s dialogue is extremely fast, beginning with: “No female Kim has ever moved out without getting married.” Then a reference to hiding possessions from parents leads into a string of Western culture references. This summarises Gilmore Girls’ interlocking between Korean-American identities, and portrayed oppressive Korean backgrounds:

I love the floorboard thing! It’s so “Hogan’s Heroes!” I wonder if I can pull up the floorboards at my house. Have you heard of the Libertines? What about the White Stripes? Is it over for them? What about Zeppelin? I’m getting more retro. What’s a good Zeppelin? “II,” “III”? “III”‘s got “Stairway to Heaven,” right? Man, it’s like a funeral down there. I thought my mom was harsh, but your mom makes the guy from Joy Division look like one of the Teletubbies.

References:

Chung, H. S. (2010). Escaping from Korea: Cultural authenticity and Asian American identities in Gilmore Girls. In D. S. Diffrient (Ed.), Screwball television: Critical perspectives on Gilmore Girls (pp. 165–185). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Stern, D. M. (2012). It Takes a Classless, Heteronormative Utopian Village: Gilmore Girls and the Problem of Postfeminism. The Communication Review, 15(3)

Advertisements