The background of the Gilmore Girls family is rooted in the complete and utopian removal of class inequality – with the only exception as opportunities for upward class mobility. Lorelai and Christopher fell pregnant with Rory at age 16, and both sets of Rory’s grandparents are of a wealthy and high societal status. Ashamed, they both immediately pressured Chris and Lorelai to marry. However, absent from the reality of institutional and socioeconomic struggles that many single mothers face, Lorelai was able to become independent from both her family and Chris. The most prominent ways Lorelai developed independently from a teen mother to entrepreneurial business owner was, as the audience learns, through individualized traits. Again, the reality of structural constraints are absent from her life. These individual traits are also specific to American neoliberalism; it was the hard work, perseverance and self-determination particular to Lorelai as an individual that climbed her up the ladder of labour success. The Gilmore Girls context is a fundamentally American, neoliberal one. Within this, the feminist empowerment can be portrayed almost exclusively within the labour force; as upward class mobility.

There are few instances when Lorelai’s unyielding perseverance is not quite enough to overcome obstacles throughout hers and Rory’s pursuits. Then, either the support of Stars Hollow or the wealth of Lorelai’s extended family can always be underlying depended on. Her parents, Richard and Emily Gilmore, are utilised in the beginning of Season 1 when over-achieving young Rory is invited to a private school. It’s extremely prestigious, but its huge cost is just slightly out of grasp for the middle-upper class Gilmore Girls family – until we meet Lorelai’s parents. History later repeats itself when, this time Rory asks Richard and Emily to pay for her Yale education. Their grandparents provide a convenient fall-back for Lorelai and Rory’s plot endeavours. Additionally, both instances stress that they swear to and follow through with paying back every cent. This ensures the audience is able to retain respect for them, over pity or perceived lowering of class for them.

Audiences do view instances of class warfare, emerging from the Gilmore Girls’ interactions with Richard and Emily’s world of wealth. For example in Season 1 when we first meet Chris and his parents, his father angrily criticises Lorelai, her pregnancy, and her employment as the Inn Manager: “If you’d attended university as your parents had planned, and as we had in vain for Christopher you might have aspired to more than a blue-collar position… I wouldn’t give a damn about you derailing your own life if you hadn’t swept my son along.” Any recognition of the male role in the pregnancy is omitted, but as a class analysis, his critique also reveals much about the high class positions within Gilmore Girls. Working in the service industry is, even as a Manager and prospective entrepreneurial owner, seemingly the lowest situation these characters could possibly imagine for someone. This unrealism of class utopia sets the audience up for the whole series; as no class below middle-upper are ever represented. The Gilmore Girls utopia extends throughout all realms of life, evidently including socio-economic class.

References:

Detmering, L.. (2012). “Good Breeding” and “Acute Discernment”: The Politics of Literacy and Family in “Gilmore Girls”. Studies in Popular Culture, 34(2)

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

 

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