Does ‘Gilmore Girls’ Have a ‘White Feminism Problem?’

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By Emily Zanotti | 6:00 am, December 1, 2016

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the new Gilmore Girls four-part Netflix Series, A Year in the Life.

At least two of the original seasons were completely unnecessary, for example. Rory Gilmore is an infantilized caricature of a Millennial with no marketable skills, a track record of self-driven failure, and a seemingly incurable aversion to adulthood and professionalism. Stars Hollow could never afford a Tony-winning actress for a town play. No one would ever boot Ina Garten from their kitchen, and to say they would is sacrilege.

But according to most critics, Gilmore Girls is, at least, a very feminist show. It’s all about women getting what they want, with male characters interspersed for dramatic effect and to help facilitate major life choices. So if there’s anything you can’t critique about A Year in the Life, it’s its refreshing adherence to modern feminist ideals in a way that’s satisfying to third generation women’s rights activists.


Okay, you know the answer.

According to “Guerilla Feminists” writing at The Establishment, it seems Gilmore Girls is a relic of 199os “white feminism,” that, while once ahead of its time, now drips with condescension, hetero- and gender-normativity, and yes, of course, white supremacy.

The three Gilmore girls — Rory, Lorelai, and Emily — “appear to only afford true empathy” to “white, cisgender, able-bodied, and heterosexual.” According to The Establishment‘s authors,  “anyone not Gilmore enough—meaning mentally ill, slow on the uptake, fat, not white, not English-speaking, not gender-conforming” is promptly both ejected from the Gilmore inner circle and written out of the show (if they ever appear at all).

The three Gilmore girls, they say, engage in everything from overt racism to fat-shaming, trampling the rights of everyone around them, triggering their neighbors, and implicitly normalizing the ideas of “white supremacy” as modern feminists work tirelessly to abolish it. The Gilmore girls, they whine, probably have never even heard of “Intersectional feminism,” the idea that women’s rights are inextricably linked to the rights of both racial and sexual minorities.

As Rory and Loreali crack obscure jokes about modern literature, down bowls full of coffee, trot around in on-point work outfits and pursue their lofty dreams in a tiny New England town, little do they know that their every move exhibits a “troubling lack of compassion for marginalized folks” that will only lead us all directly into ruin.

Worse still, Rory, Lorelai, and Emily Gilmore are “deeply privileged,” and Rory is afforded the ability to successfully swan her way through life without a work ethic not because she’s a completely fictional character in a television show, but because she is “youthful, thin, attractive, able-bodied, rich, well-educated, cis, and white.”

To boot, the Establishment feminists are also unhappy that Gilmore Girls has routinely ignored the harsh world in which we live, refusing to incorporate police shootings, bigotry, climate change, and, probably, Donald Trump into its refreshingly fantastical setting. The characters, they claim are “stuck in a white feminism bubble that blithely ignores the realities of our current world.”

Somehow, it doesn’t seem likely that Gilmore Girls would have so many repeat viewers, or be very satisfying to its legions of fans, if Rory and Lorelai spent the whole year camped out at a North Dakota pipeline. We could be wrong.

They do, of course, end their piece by claiming that the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino — and not any of the show’s protagonists — is the real villain, as she clearly “does not care how matters of race, gender, and sexuality (just to name a few) intersect.”

Fortunately for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, most viewers don’t seem to agree. The show is considered a success for Netflix, and its “shocking four words” ending hints at either a return trip to Stars Hollow or a spinoff series for the show’s main character, Rory. For The Establishment, that will likely only prolong the pain, but the rest of us will likely survive.