A Tale Of Unemployment, Journalism And Millennial Entitlement: Why Rory Gilmore Is Our Spirit Animal

Just over a week ago commenced the revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life; the sequel/spinoff, if you will, to the early-late 2000s iconic series Gilmore Girls. It was most notable for the very notorious, friendly relationship between mother and daughter (Lorelai and Rory) that we envied or at least attempted to emulate and live vicariously through the interactions with our own moms.

But despite all of this, I have to admit that I’ve never watched an episode of Gilmore Girls in my life. Of course, it was everywhere, and I knew about it. But for some reason, I never gave the program a chance. So why am I writing this article, you ever-so-politely ask? Well aside from constant social media updates and word-of-mouth - I couldn't miss that despite her evolution from a humble, scholarly girl into a woman who seems to have fallen from grace - Rory Gilmore, like many of Alexis Bledel's characters, seems to be so relatable. 

Her growth (even if she hits rock bottom first) from timid graduate to spoiled 30-something signifies something very crucial - if not applicable - to our society today. If it’s any consolation, while shows like Girls and Sex In The City (even if indirectly) foreshadow or reinforce these millennial prototypes, characters like Rory from Gilmore Girls serve us comfort and relief in not feeling alone. They redefine - if not convey - this new generation of “adulting” (or lack thereof).

In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Rory is now 32 years old and unemployed; barely scraping by as a freelance writer and journalism graduate, living in an apartment which is speculated to be paid for by an inheritance or parental funds. Since Rory has no credit or job (”or underwear”, apparently), she hesitantly moves back in with her mother Lorelai; even though it’s rent-free. If that’s not enough, Rory also frequents excursions from London and back to cheat with her now-married ex Logan. Not learning from her previous mistakes, she also dropped out of Yale and stole a yacht once.

But, who are we to judge? Alexis Bledel’s characters are never perfect, and neither are we. Quirky and down-to-earth, their personalities possess authentic idiosyncrasies; like we do. But their flaws are blown out of proportion, because this is television, and we watch it for the drama. We want to compare ourselves to characters and feel more successful than them, even though they’re usually not real. People like Rory clearly derive from privilege, and even though she worked so diligently in the original episodes - like when her efforts were declined from The New York Times fellowship she yearned for, but she still managed to cover Obama's then election campaign for an online magazine (this was 2008 and in their last season) - she still didn’t have a job then or now. And while we can’t scrutinize her because many graduates don’t have jobs or can’t balance work while in school, we can also argue that she can afford to do so - unlike many others.

But much like the character she portrays in 2009’s Post Grad, Rory seems to have struggled immensely in securing any type of work. In the movie, Rory plays a girl who graduates university with the intention to pursue a career in book publishing. But much like journalism, which is also a form of publishing, this is considered somewhat of a dying occupation. With more people clicking on their phones and computers - as opposed to purchasing print newspapers, magazines and books - publications are losing money. With print issues and ads being worth more if bought in a store, in contrast to what you can just read online for free, these companies or publications are on a path of declining; if not shutting down. Editors don’t have enough money to pay freelancers or have enough employees on staff. So bloggers are interning, if not just writing for free, from home.

...Which is why Rory’s character makes more sense than we think. In this new reunion, Rory now freelances for The Atlantic and The New Yorker; but not doing much else. She's not contacting editors and creating pitches for story ideas (or so we think). But while many will criticize her for just that, not many understand how hard being in journalism is. Because monetarily it’s a diminishing field, there still needs to be passion, and it’s difficult to keep that when rejection prevails or often overshadows the beauty of the written word. There’s expression of self, stimulation of critical thinking, provision of a voice for those who can’t speak up. Finding or developing original ideas - if not discovered by online research or inspired by personal experience - is complicated.

However, there are times when Rory doesn’t cease to disappoint; like when she falls asleep during an interview with one source for a story she’s been assigned to write for GQ (seriously!) and then hooks up with another source. This is when she gets too much. It’s one thing to only prepare so much for interview questions (sometimes you never really know what they’ll ask you) and to not always know which queries work best for the demographic or magazine at hand. But it’s another; to refuse to start from the bottom at a small online publication, although she still volunteers (literally) to work as an editor (as in, for free) for The Stars Hollow Gazette, in an attempt to resuscitate it from shutting down. Rory also wants to write a book, a memoir about her mother; but at the expense of her mother, who doesn’t want everyone to know everything about her life story. These are some of the reasons why we’re beginning to dislike Rory Gilmore.

But we can’t completely resent her, because she is just one of the many consistent characters who share these common qualities. Although these traits aren’t completely unrealistic in actual life? Just like Carrie Bradshaw worked as a freelance journalist and was able somehow to afford a New York loft on her own or (more recently) Hannah Horvath in Girls lived in an apartment unemployed (but at least admittingly receives financial assistance from her parents), it's not realistic that they even get paid that much or if at all in that field to yield such luxuries. With Rory whining in her Brooklyn apartment that she probably doesn't even pay for to Hannah begging her parents for $1100 a month, nepotism and affluence are predominantly consensual factors in these aspiring journalists’ lives. Although in real life, I do know people who have had their condos paid for by their parents; whether they were working part-time or working at all, whether they were writers or they weren’t.

I know young people who’ve dropped out of programs, like Rory dropped out of Yale. I know young people who have been unemployed for months or years and in between periods of chronic or long-term unemployment, have worked at seasonal contracts or mininum wage jobs that aren't even in their field (like call centres, retail, office temp work, or even door to door canvassing and sign holding). I know young people who have multiple degrees and are still underqualified (but somehow overeducated) for a full-time job in their desired industry. I know young people who acquire positions through relatives or family friends. I know young people who have struggled at internships and continue to work for free in their field, even years later. I know young people who have startups or their own businesses, and owe money without a cent in return. I know young people who’ve participated in volunteer work in their field for years mercilessly; who write for multiple publications for no monetary compensation in exchange to create exposure or add a big name to their portfolio. And the thing is, this isn’t just for “young people”.

It’s hard out there, folks. Unemployment is higher than it ever has been. Living costs just keep skyrocketing and skyrocketing. With all of the job assessments, online applications, resume changes and interview responses for each job you apply for, building an online presence to get noticed, job hopping or working odd gigs - we are trying, despite what our baby boomer parents might think. Even if some of us are funemployed and trying to figure ourselves out or refuse to take a job beneath them - or we’re just overqualified for a minimum wage job and wouldn’t be hired anyway just for that reason - how could you blame us for wanting more?

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