Since its first season aired in 2001, "Gilmore Girls" has been upheld as a masterpiece of feminist television. It had two female protagonists! They were intelligent! They made obscure pop-culture references! They had priorities that weren't men!
For the early 2000s, sure — the unapologetic sass and smarts of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore was revolutionary for young women to watch and absorb. But its 2016 reboot "A Year In The Life," which just hit its one-year anniversary, brought one very unfortunate fact to light.
"Gilmore Girls" is actually a cesspool of body-shaming, sex-negative, white-privileged nonsense. And it constantly makes a majority of its viewers incredibly uncomfortable — these nine examples from the original and reboot series are a mere handful.
1. When Lorelai and Rory policed each other's sex lives.
Lorelai and Rory's relationship largely consists of two things: Lorelai instilling a fear of sex in Rory to prevent her getting pregnant as a teenager the way she did, and Rory gently chiding her mother for being promiscuous.
When doing either of these things, the girls toss the words "slut" and "whore" around like they're nothing, even in the show's first episode. Rory bursts through the door at the moment Lorelai receives news that Rory was accepted to a reputable prep school. "You're happy," Rory says. "Did you do something slutty?"
Later in the episode Lorelai asks Rory about Dean, who would soon become Rory's first boyfriend, and immediately assumes Rory will sacrifice her education for sex. "If you're going to throw your life away, he'd better have a motorcycle."
In this series, having sex as a woman is seen as nothing but a poor life choice. The shaming of women who have sex is an occurring theme throughout the rest of the series in both blatant and subtle ways.
2. When Paris Geller had sex for the first time and was immediately, nonsensically rejected from Harvard University.
In the series' third season, Paris has sex for the first time as a senior in high school with her first boyfriend (an extremely average experience, by the way). Right after this happens, she finds out she's been denied acceptance to Harvard, the school she'd been dreaming of attending since birth.
Still virginal Rory, on the other hand, *is* accepted to Harvard, despite having to compete with Paris for the school's valedictorian position. Both girls have the same grades and extracurricular activities, and that leaves Paris to decide that her rejection from Harvard was a punishment from the universe for having sex.
3. When Lane Kim had sex literally one time and got pregnant — with twins.
Thanks to her overbearing and devout mother, Lane spends most of the series utterly horrified of the idea of sex. Compared to Rory, she has very few romantic story arcs, and decides not to have sex until she marries at 22.
Viewers root *so hard* for Lane to finally have a positive and rewarding sexual experience once she's married in season seven — but that doesn't happen. After returning from her honeymoon, Lane immediately confides in Rory about the terrible sex they had. "It says something about the potential power of women that the entire gender could collude in creating this 'sex is sexy' myth," she rants.
Lane refrains from sex for the remainder of the series — mostly because she becomes pregnant with twins after her first attempt. The babies prevent Lane from fulfilling the dreams the show set up for her, such as touring in a successful band.
4. When Rory wrote a review of a ballet and couldn't stop commenting on a dancer's weight.
Alongside sex, "Gilmore Girls" also had a incredibly negative attitude towards fat people — and it was VERY blatant. Take for example the episode in which Rory reviews a ballet for the Yale newspaper.
During a ballerina's performance, Rory and Lorelai exchange negative comments to suggest the performance is... well, bad. But some of their remarks are about the dancer's weight (and entirely unnecessary). "No one gave her a heads up about the roll of fat around the bra strap," Lorelai says. Rory publishes a story likening the ballerina to a hippo.
5. When Rory and Lorelai humiliated a plus-size man at a public pool.
In the series reboot "A Year In the Life," Lorelai and Rory spend their summer at a public pool, where Lorelai shouts "belly alert" at fat passersby as if they can not hear her. When one of them stops to welcome Rory upon her return to the neighborhood, she accidentally calls him "back fat" to his face. They then wait in disgust for him to leave so they no longer have to look at his body.
6. When Rory and Lorelai's binge eating was one of their lovable quirks.
One of the things young women found so refreshing about Lorelai and Rory was that they were never ashamed to eat — in fact, they did it with such enthusiasm that it became one big, series-long joke. They spend many of their weekend nights with buffets of junk food and constantly verbalize their desire for food.
In seven whole seasons and a reboot, neither Rory nor Lorelai gain weight or battle with body image at any point. That would normally be fine, but when combined with the show's fat-is-bad attitude, it sends a dangerous message: that loving food is only cute and acceptable if you're thin.
7. When Michele Gerard served as the show's Black and LGBTQ+ token, but was actively forced into the closet.
If having sex and being fat are bad in the eyes of the "Gilmore Girls" writers, being gay is WAY worse. Having a single Black, gay character might've been progressive for the early '00s, but they did him a complete disservice in his representation.
Michel is the only man on the show who's sexuality is ever questioned, and therefore it's just assumed that he's gay — a fact that's never confirmed until "A Year In the Life." Michel never has relationships or has any personal conflicts that reflect the queer experience — instead he is a human punchline, there only to annoy others by being effeminate and sassy.
Given that the rest of Stars Hollow's residents frequently use "gay" as a derogatory term, it's no wonder he let his sexuality fly so low under the radar.
8. When Rory's academic success was rooted entirely in privilege, but she belittled her boyfriend for not wanting to go to college.
Rory might have been an extremely hard worker with an above-average reading level, but let's face it: Rory wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as she did in life were it not for her exorbitantly wealthy grandparents. They pay for her prep school tuition and use their alumni connections to get her into Yale — which they ALSO pay for.
And once again, that's fine. But Rory looks down on those who don't meet her high academic standards — even though most of Rory's peers can't afford a local state school, let alone a private, ivy league university. She's disappointed to learn in the early seasons that Dean isn't interested in (nor can he really afford) higher education, and makes him feel worthless for feeling so.
Ultimately, "Gilmore Girls" paints Rory and Lorelai as women you should strive to be like, but in reality they're simply there to make you feel guilty if you're not wealthy, straight, white, sexually prudent, and thin.
Watching this show was empowering and refreshing in the early '00s, but now it just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. No, thank you.