It's been a pretty tough few months for Nasty Women in America.
Not only did we see our very personhood alternately mocked, cheapened, or put on a pedestal throughout the most despicable presidential election since Watergate, we also saw millions of Americans vote for an openly misogynist, pussy-grabbing degenerate with zero political experience over the most qualified candidate in history. So y'know, it's felt pretty shitty being an ambitious, fierce, career-minded person who also has a vagina during this trying time.
... Enter Paris Gellar.
During a Thanksgiving weekend that featured Jill Stein leading a confusing-as-hell recount effort in the real world and Rory Gilmore essentially failing at all things besides "being an entitled brat" in the world of "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life," Liza Weil's fierce, fearsome supporting character was a reminder to women everywhere that being Nasty is still really fucking awesome.
Many women feel the need to temper their ambition as to not intimidate men. Paris Geller calls herself the Pablo Escobar of the fertility world with a straight face.
I love Rory and Lorelai Gilmore — OK, Lorelai more so than Rory Gilmore — a lot. They're the heart of their show, and their influence on the representation of female relationships on television is important and should not be ignored.
However, as Jackson McHenry wrote in Vulture, both Gilmores tend to be whimsical, or even wishy-washy, when it comes to their innermost desires. Even book worm Rory, whose number one defining trait Seasons 1-5 was her scholarly ambition, dropped out of Yale and embraced a life of luxury when one measly man told her she didn't have the chops.
"Rory's and Lorelai’s lives are whimsical," McHenry explains. "Paris’s is epic: She becomes the editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News and runs it into the ground, she hooks up with a professor, she even has sex before Rory (while talking about Marxism, of course). Rory and Lorelai are homebodies who spend their time figuring out what they really want in life. Paris knows exactly what she wants."And while knowing exactly what you want (and trampling any Chilton prepster who gets in your way to get it) gets women called "bitchy" and "bossy" and "unlikable" in real life — just ask Hillary Clinton — "Gilmore Girls" should be lauded for celebrating this trait in Paris. She'll never be the doe-eyed Golden Girl of Stars Hollow like Rory, sure, but when we meet Paris nine years after her last appearance in the revival, she has become a colossal success in the way her old school chum always dreamed of. She's the Pablo Escobar of the fertility world, she's a mother, a highly-paid New Yorker, and a moderately successful co-parent with her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Doyle, which is all pretty remarkable for a 32-year-old who entered the work force during the Great Recession. She's not sublimely happy and likely never will be — Paris wants too much; she's not built for long-term satisfaction — but she's the best in her field and knows it, and even better, she's still not about to lessen her intensity to make others comfortable.
Perhaps even more important, though, is how Paris has never been afraid to show her sadness, her rage, and her disappointment when her dreams fall through.
One of my favorite moments in the OG "Gilmore Girls" is the onstage meltdown Paris has when she finds out she didn't get into Harvard — and Rory did — hours after she loses her virginity. As a feminine, put-together Rory addresses the Chilton crowd with her token cheer, a frumpy, overtly mourning Paris chooses to process her devastating loss in front of hundreds of people.
“I had sex, but I’m not going to Harvard,” she deadpans, later adding that “they must really not like me for me not to get in ... it’s like they know me or something.”
One of the downsides to knowing exactly what you want to the detail is that life is full of crushing disappointments. For women, losing yourself in stereotypically un-feminine emotions like depression and especially rage when you fail is frowned upon in real life; and almost virtually unheard of on television — though it's still really, really fucking real.
"Gilmore Girls" isn't afraid to let Paris live in these emotions, though, or to let us see how uncomfortable they make the non-Rory-and-Doyle people around her when a meltdown like the one she again has at Chilton, when she sees "Tristan," goes down.
Devastated that her marriage has failed and that she still experiences imposter syndrome — at least enough of it to pack an empty briefcase to impress high school students — she unloads all of her sorrow on Rory, and it ends up being cathartic both for Paris and for yours truly, who grew very tired of watching Hillary smile and nod while the people she spent her entire life working to represent destroyed her.
If only the real world had more Doyles and Rorys.
She also champions other women, relentlessly.
Some Paris Geller-esque characters on other shows of "Gilmore"'s ilk and time period — like Cordelia Chase from "Buffy" and Blair Waldorf from "Gossip Girl" — also possessed similar scholarly and career ambitions, and a few, most notably Blair, were unafraid to express uncomfortable emotions.
But unlike those other ambitious "mean girls," Paris was and is special because she defies stereotypes by championing other strong women in her life. She underwent an uncommon evolution that began as typical mean-girl competitiveness with Rory that soon became a challenging and enriching friendship. Instead of hating Rory for getting into Harvard (or for being a consistently better choice for public speaking engagements at Chilton), Paris loves and fights for Rory relentlessly; through Yale dropouts and career failures and way too many Logan Huntzbergers.
That she gets into a field that's both profitable and helpful to women — wealthy, career-oriented women who have kids later in life, but still, women! — is no surprise, because Paris has respected and even celebrated fellow ambitious women (except for Francie, who is satanic) from the get-go. Even when she berates the girls in the new class at Chilton about the Real World, she sees it as having their backs — that "only one of us can succeed and it has to be be me" mentality has never appealed to Paris; in her own funny way, she's happy when multiple capable women are able to succeed. Preferably, with her help.
And of course, she can rock a pantsuit like it's no one's business.
The colors. The tailoring. The way they all say "this could be you if only you were better." Jesus Christ, the heels.
2016-era Paris Geller reps Pantsuit Nation, hard. And even though "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" was filmed months ago (I like to think that it ended with Fall because so did our collective innocence), I'm grateful to the Weil, to Amy Sherman-Palladino, and to Netflix for giving us a character who is the perfect antidote for the poison running through this hateful, misogynist America. I can't always be strong, but whenever I turn on "Gilmore Girls," I know Paris will be there to take down the patriarchy for me.
Now that's Nasty.