Are the Gilmore Girls a glorified portrayal of an unrealistic mother-daughter relationship?
If you are one of those people who watched Gilmore Girls as a teen and didn't immediately want a relationship like Lorelai and Rory, I would have a hard time believing you. A mother who doesn't restrain you from eating as much fast food as you want and indulges in movie marathons with you? I might sound overdramatic to some but she is almost every teenager's dream parent.
The unorthodox mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore and their vibrant life in the town of Stars Hollow were what captivated viewers in the first place. Even after twenty years, the show's popularity hasn't waned a single bit. Rather, Rory and Lorelai Gilmore have procured a permanent residence in pop culture. From an exterior vantage point, Rory and Lorelai have an endearing dynamic. However, their relationship is dangling on the periphery of dysfunctionality most of the time, perfectly embodying a co-dependent relationship between a parent and child.
It was conveyed multiple times how Rory has had to disregard her own needs to help her mother out with her personal problems. We see this in season two when Lorelai breaks off her marriage to Max Medina without even telling Rory. Later, Rory had to confront Max on her own about the lingering awkwardness between them. Again, in season five when Luke breaks up with Lorelai, Rory leaves everything at Yale and runs to her mother. While this shows that Rory shares a great bond with her mother, a child should never feel compelled to become their parents' support system.
The friend-first and parent-second dynamic also led to an acute lack of boundaries between the two of them. In the show, we often see Lorelai pressurising Rory into telling her things that she would rather not and unnecessarily interjecting herself into Rory's love life. She also projects her own dreams and aspirations on Rory at times, like going to Harvard, and even getting mad when Rory applied to other colleges.
Despite trying her hardest to disassociate from her parents and their lifestyle, Lorelai ends up mirroring Emily Gilmore's disapproving nature. She is also similarly controlling like Emily, only on the other end of the spectrum. She wants Rory to be a certain way, seeing Rory as an extension of herself. As long as Rory plays her role of the "perfect child", Lorelai is pleased. But the moment Rory does something that does not align with her version of Rory, all hell breaks loose.
Many fans detest Rory's characterisation in the latter seasons. But given her upbringing, it was apparent that someone who was coddled and praised to the moon her entire life by her mother, grandparents, and everyone in her town would have a hard time accepting criticism. When she finally cut the umbilical cord and moved to Yale, she struggled to form her own identity. All the people pleasing since childhood and living in the fear of disappointing her mother led to her having a delayed rebellious teen phase and becoming a confused adult.
Gilmore Girls is a comfort show for many and for the right reasons. As viewers, we are made to envy the magical bond between Lorelai and Rory, but we should never idolise it as the perfect mother-daughter relationship.