No Love Lost or Long Lost Love?

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On your problematic faves: What happens when your favorite sitcom characters have not aged well?

Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City overlapped with my formative developing years, with GG going from 2000-2007 and SATC airing from 1998 – 2004. I was probably too young to watch SATC when I did, but I had a single working mom, cable, and curiosity. The latter part of that last sentence probably tells you why I loved Lorelei so much; my mom is also a funny free spirit with great taste in clothes, and I blame my love of plaid on Rory’s Chilton uniform. I related to Gilmore Girls, and wanted to use Rory as a blueprint since she was a couple years older than me. A big part of my sense of humor and comedic timing developed from watching GG on ABC Family every day after school. SATC stoked my excitement for growing up, boyfriends, clothes, and eventually my choice to go to college in the middle of the city of Chicago. At the time, SATC broke the mold for female driven sitcoms – the pilot episode centers around women resolving to have sex like men. Over the six seasons, I cursed Big and Natasha, threw my hands up at the Aidan saga, and wanted to throttle Berger. Secretly I knew I was a Miranda/Samantha, but who doesn’t want Carrie’s shoes and hair?

My original viewings of this show took place before two important developments in my life: Marxist feminism and the ability to watch shows as a whole, not fragmented storylines at the hands of the network. And yikes, the years have not been kind to these spoiled white women. Instead of idealizing them, I now hope I internalized and rejected their terribleness. Lorelei reeks of privilege and selfishness – she was supposed to be a hero, her parents the villains, but upon repeated viewings, it seems the other way around. GG never explains in depth the deep-seeded resentment and hatred Lorelei has for her parents, beyond the flashback episode where teen Lorelei leaves her parents a note that she is going into labor and runs away to Stars Hollow. It seems as though being strict and angry over teen pregnancy is an adequate justification for cutting grandparents off entirely from their granddaughter (It’s not). Later, there is an episode dedicated to Lorelei FREAKING OUT because Rory wants to apply to Yale, and not only send out exclusively one college application to Harvard. Yes, a mother wants her daughter to not apply to any back-ups or Yale, solely because her dad went to Yale. It’s hard to watch. Also the running joke about Lorelei hanging up on her mother’s phone calls and throwing tantrums about having to eat dinner (made by her parents’ private chef) once a week with her daughter and parents just comes off as sad now that I would kill to have a meal with my mom. It’s hard not to be turned off by the class privilege dripping from Lorelei’s disdain.

Now, a short list of reasons why Carrie Bradshaw sucks:

  • Can she write a column without a rhetorical question?
  • She gets mad at Charlotte (a whole nother rant about class privilege there) for not volunteering to buy Carrie’s apartment for her
  • Aidan was perfect and she cheated on him. Then agrees to marry him, knowing she won’t go through with it. BUT YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME! YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME! FORGIVE! ME!
  • The way she stalks Natasha and also forces N to forgive her to relieve Carrie’s guilt
  • Direct Carrie Quote: “You know, I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.”

If anything, these are great reminders of how far we have come in terms of social progressivism. Sometimes time just isn’t kind to what was once considered innovative. And we shouldn’t forget that a show about a single teenage mom whose life wasn’t ruined by pregnancy, and a group of single women who strive for independence, still helped get us to where we are now. The politically progressive shows we love now, will probably have some issues ten years from now as well.

Has this happened to you, where nostalgia bites you in the ass?

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2 Responses to No Love Lost or Long Lost Love?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    This blog post really resonated with me in terms of Lorelai because I am in the midst of rewatching it now in anticipation for the revival’s release. When my family watched the whole series the first time, my mother hated Lorelai. She would comment on how childish and selfish Lorelai always was. My sister and I, however, were quick to dismiss my mother’s remarks. I think through rewatching the series now, I am able to see a lot more of what my mom saw the first time around.
    -Valerie Medoff

  2. marymdalton says:

    Who wrote this provocative post during our 1970s week?

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