How the 'Gilmore Girls' Revival Helped Me Accept My Mental Health Story
Author’s note: The article contains spoilers about the new episodes of “Gilmore Girls.”
I watched “Gilmore Girls” religiously when I was in high school. The banter, the coffee, the mother-daughter bond – I loved all of it. In an hour I felt like I had gone to school with Rory, worked at the Independence Inn (or the Dragonfly, depending on the season) with Lorelai and ended with the customary Friday night dinner where family tensions and relationship woes abounded. Somehow, though, at the end of the hour, I’d feel some sort of resolution. There was just enough of a bridge between my life and those of the Gilmore girls for me to connect with their problems but not too much, still retaining the magic of a neat, Hollywood-style conclusion.
With the revival in the making almost 10 years later, I found my life drastically changed. I no longer was in the profession I had gone to grad school for, I didn’t have a full time job or income, and in the midst of all of this I had been diagnosed with depression and an eating disorder. My life looked so different than I envisioned as a bright-eyed graduate. And when I thought about that, I felt substandard, like I was somehow missing the same train everyone else seemed to jump on.
Like many of the girls who were “Gilmore Girl” devotees in the seven seasons of the show, I sat down the day after Thanksgiving with the hope of revisiting the whimsical, likable, relatable town of Stars Hollow.
And wow, it so much more relatable than I was expecting.
The first 20 minutes of the first episode, titled “Winter,” was a seamless transition from where the series left off, and yet, as the show continued, I felt like something about these episodes were unlike the original show. All the sudden, the relationship tensions seemed to be more intense and less predictable, the main characters who had been so sure of themselves were now experiencing doubts and disappointments that were too real. And to top it off, instead of leaving me with a sense of content, I felt restless after watching the first three episodes, wondering how, and even if, the characters were going to solve their problems.
As I jumped between finding myself in Emily, Lorelai, and Rory, I was first rebuffed. This was not how “Gilmore Girls” was supposed to go – this was not how Rory was going to be 10 years down the road. Rory was supposed to be a star writer for the New York Times; Lorelai was supposed to be in wedded bliss to Luke, possibly with a child or two; and Emily was supposed to stay in her societal world, struggling to connect with her daughter but remaining supportive in her own way. I mean no offense to the writers, and actually, the more I reflected, the more thankful I became for how the four episodes were crafted.
I found comfort in Rory’s life being in disarray in her early 30s. I felt encouraged by the way Lorelai’s lack of communication could cause problems that weren’t always easily fixable. With Emily’s adjustment to single life, I found hope that life can change not matter how old you are. The comedy and fast-paced chitchat of the show still existed but within the context of a world that resembled my own. There were moments of supreme awkwardness and major disappointment: something I feel the original show had lacked.
I have a tendency to compare my life with other people – even if they are fictional. It’s a constant struggle, but when I watched Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, the judgments I made about my life were way less critical. I didn’t feel guilty for not having a full-time job and not knowing what next year is going to look like. I didn’t feel like I was alone in watching my peers succeed and move on with their lives when I was stuck. I didn’t berate myself for not being able to articulate how I’m feeling.
All of these experiences were validated in the four segments of “Gilmore Girls” in real life. And that helps me accept that where I am is where I am: struggles, insecurities, emotions and all.
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