My mother and I have always had an exceptional relationship. While we have the typical mother-daughter squabbles, we have always treated each other more like sisters. She and I borrow each other’s clothes, listen to the same music, and often finish each other’s sentences. Where there should be discussions about rules and guidelines, there are silver-tongued debates that often devolve into carefully crafted insults interspersed with fits of laughter.
Recently, a close friend of mine, having witnessed our banter time and time again, made a comment that my mother and I reminded her of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, the dynamic mother-daughter duo from the witty, biting 2000s TV series, Gilmore Girls. Having never seen an episode, the comment piqued my curiosity and prompted me to immediately delve into the Gilmore’s storybook Connecticut town full of interesting characters and events.
As I began the series, I urged my mother to watch along with me—Stars Hollow would become our new meeting place, a home away from home. The exuberant, youthful, and sarcastic Lorelai (Lauren Graham) encapsulated my mother perfectly while Rory’s (Alexis Bledel) penchant for writing, travel, and frozen pizza spoke to my soul. Their endless nights of ordering in takeout, plopping themselves on the couch, and watching movies together seemed like a replay of my past Winter Break.
Their relationship, however, embodied more complexities than easy-breezy conversations held over ceremonial feasts of cookie dough and potato chips. As the first season progressed, I began to watch fights I had had with my mother take center stage on the screen and unfold before my eyes. I reveled in Lorelai and Rory’s passive-aggressive arguments peppered with irrelevant, outlandish comments and classic storm out scenes that seemed to mirror the ones I experienced at home. I even recognized the motives—ones usually driven by the fallout of previous quarrels with Rory’s control freak of a grandmother, Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop).
Obsessed with perfection and everything pristine and refined, Emily was a spitting image of my grandmother. Her loving heart hidden beneath her cold demeanor, stern attitude, and focus on status and money was all too familiar to me. Even her sudden insertion into Lorelai and Rory’s life was reminiscent of my grandparents moving to Florida. Having them live in the condo one floor below denied us any room for separation. Her loving yet difficult presence in my life has been constant ever since.
The more I watched of Gilmore Girls, the more I realized that this band of women that spanned three generations represented my family dynamic in every way. Rousing fights fueled by jealousy, money, and a grandmother’s love given more to her granddaughter than her own daughter all seemed like they were taken out of a page of my family’s book. In this way, the series built itself upon the idea that the most complex relationships we will ever have in our lives are the ones we share with a parent. The most interesting part about this idea is how successful the show is at portraying the role reversals that tend to take place in the kind of family dynamic dominated by three women. For example, Rory often finds herself protecting her mother and taking on a more mature role, waking up to her mother having slept in and fending off her mother’s insistence on distracting her while studying. While my mother’s 5 a.m. wake-up time has me beat every time, I have had the irrational argument of putting my studies before spending time with her.
The familial problems they faced, however, were ones that were definitely not exclusive to mine. Every family faces challenges and hardships in the face of love, loss, and life-changing events. Gilmore Girls feeds off of this inherent relatability and constantly builds on it through each episode. This is what makes it so loveable. The show takes what you may experience in a classic family set up and delivers it in a quirkier, funnier version.
Throughout my life, I understood that, no matter when or where, I knew that I could count on my mother to be my strongest protector, my best friend, and my toughest critic. This is the main lesson that Lorelai instilled in Rory. Just as it is for my mother, it was often hard for Lorelai to turn off the sister switch and become the mother again, but it was the balancing act between the two where a special bond is formed. Illustrating this unique relationship is what also adds to the Gilmore Girls charm—that life’s struggles can be conveyed with grace and weight and served up with a side of Twizzlers.