If you weren't living under a rock from 2000-2007, you've probably seen or at least heard of the TV show "Gilmore Girls." If you haven't, here's a recap: 32-year-old inn manager Lorelai Gilmore and her bookworm 16-year-old daughter Rory live in the sleepy yet whimsical Connecticut town of Stars Hollow. This feel-good, smart dramedy follows the lives of the young, single mother and her teenage daughter in their unique "friends first and mother and daughter second" bond. And while this show has been praised for its progressive depiction of single motherhood, fast-paced humor and pop culture references, I've got major beef with "Gilmore Girls" for a few reasons.
Rory is kind of a spoiled brat.
It likes to sex shame.
It low-key upholds traditional beauty standards.
Rory and Lorelai clearly believe that there are appropriate ways for women to look and those who don't fall in line with these standards deserve to be criticized. In the season five episode, "Blame Booze and Melville," Emily Gilmore reveals to the girls that she is going to sponsor a Russian ballerina, and she needs help selecting one from a pile of photographs. Together, the women rank the photos based on attractiveness.
Where are all the people of color?
There is a noticeable lack of diversity in "Gilmore Girls," and the few people of color who are shown are portrayed rather one-dimensionally. The show takes place in Stars Hollow, an idealistic, mostly white, upper-middle class town. Most of the characters are white, excluding Rory's best friend Lane Kim and her mother Mrs. Kim.
Lane Kim is a Korean-American female who constantly rebels against her strict, deeply religious mother. Lane's storylines are often about how she must sneak around her mother in order to do what she loves, like playing the drums in a rock band. These circumstances prevent Lane from achieving the same kind of success as Rory. While Rory attends the prestigious Chilton Academy and graduates from Yale University, Lane graduates from public high school and continues to live in Stars Hollow where she dodges her mother's rules and works at the local diner. She gets married at age 20 and immediately gets pregnant from her first sexual experience. Lane is the Asian outsider who struggles to have the same lifestyle as the beautiful, intelligent and white Rory.
While Lane Kim is Americanized, her mother Mrs. Kim speaks with a very heavy accent and is reduced to a strict Asian mom stereotype. Mrs. Kim's Korean-ness and devout Christianity is frequently portrayed as archaic and used as a comedic device.
Over the course of the series, Lane and Mrs. Kim's storylines almost exclusively revolve around Mrs. Kim's strict Korean and religious values and Lane's rebellion. Neither of the women are portrayed in the dynamic ways that Lorelai and Rory are. This shallow representation of racial characters positions them as one-dimensional outsiders.