Thank you 'Gilmore Girls' for raising my daughter
Dear Amy Sherman-Palladino,
You wrote my daughter's first joke.
She was 6 years old and sitting at the table in the kitchen. I was making a salad.
"Since when do you not like avocados?" I asked. "Since the day I said 'Ew, what's this?' And you said 'avocados,'" she replied.
Thanks for that. And thanks for making my daughter's teen years ridiculously easy.
When your show started in 2000, I was a young mum, putting myself through college. As my daughter grew up we would watch it every week together. We would rush to the TV in our one-bedroom apartment and sing-along with Carol King. Cheesy as it sounds, we would hold hands while we watched.
You gave me and all the other independent, high-achieving, single teen mums a chance to see ourselves reflected in popular culture. These moments are rare for us. We see our life stories told only as cautionary tales or drama-filled reality TV. Gilmore Girls was a revelation. My kid knew her mother was younger than the other mums, knew our house was smaller and our family smaller too. It was just her and me. We were Lorelai and Rory against the world.
Except we weren't alone and neither were Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai had Sookie, Miss Patty, Babette, Luke and eventually her parents. I had co-workers, neighbours and family too. Community is important. Lorelai was my example and from her I learned to reach out.
When working the weekend night cops shift at the local paper my aunt would babysit. I'd come home to a child who was fed, bathed and ready for bed, needing nothing more than a cuddle and a story. At the student housing while I was at UC Berkeley, children played in the courtyard while parents worked. I was just one of a crowd of students who would sprint outside whenever one of them got hurt.
Later, I found community at my job at the Chronicle, where my coworker and his boyfriend would plan elaborate evenings for my daughter, plying her with themed game nights and sweets. My boss taught her how to cook, to entertain and how to stick the landing on a flying kick for that brief second she thought she wanted to be a cheerleader.
Too often we tell teen mums they made their bed and must lie in it to the detriment of the child. What mother of any age hasn't needed a helping hand at any moment? It takes a village we say, but for teens we have that village judging and criticising them at every turn.
You created a different world for Lorelai and Rory, one where everyone they met in Stars Hollow helped them succeed. Is it any wonder that my daughter saved up her allowance to buy all seven seasons on DVD? What child wouldn't want to immerse herself in that kind of world over and over again?
You created my daughter's personal hero and role model. Rory works hard, studies and reads a lot. She's witty, fun and driven to succeed. She's an organised, structure-craving follower of the rules: the complete opposite of her mother's young, free flowing, by the seat of her pants ways. My daughter's the same.
Gilmore Girls gave us something real. It gave us a new model of teenage-hood that focuses on goals, independence, and community. It gave us an example of a mother-daughter relationship built on respect, love and closeness. Popular culture seems to prefer mother-daughter relationships fraught with anger and teenagers filled with moody anger and self-destructive acting out. The characters you created showed us it doesn't have to be that way. It wasn't for Lorelai and Rory. It's not for us either.
In one episode Rory realises her private-school cohorts have been building their resumes for college, volunteering and building homes for poor people in third world countries. Rory, in a panic, realises her community experience happened organically, attending community meetings and helping out friends and neighbours whenever they needed. My daughter watched this and realised she needed to build her resume too. She then spent hours trying to find a place that would accept a 13-year-old's help. What kind of teen spends that much time trying to volunteer for the community? A teen raised on Gilmore Girls. That's who.
Lorelai showed us that teens are capable of so much more by expertly creating a home and a life for her child while only 16. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't ideal, but it happened and she overcame. Rory showed us what teens are capable of when instead of being expected to rebel they set their sights on their personal long-term goals.
These lessons came along when I and my daughter needed it most. Thanks for that. – TNS
Gilmore Girls 2.50pm, Weekdays (from Thursday), Vibe.