7 Gilmore Girls Takes

7 Gilmore Girls Takes February 9, 2018

Experiencing profound mixed feelings about the Gilmore Girls.

Love the rosy nostalgic glow of small town Americana–the bustling little square, the store fronts, the diner, the little grocery, the big houses with front porches, the everybody knowing everybody else. I have to ask myself, though, was this ever real? It must have been. But was it still real in the early 2000s? Is this what Anthony Esolen is pinning for? Because every time there’s a shot of Rory and Lorelai  walking through the town and the shot pans wide and you can see lots and lots and lots of people also walking around I think, “No way. There’s no way small town America was ever that vibrant.” Or at least, it died a long time before this.

I mean, I should say, there are a lot of people walking around in my town, but they are walking because they don’t have cars, not because they are in the grip of social cohesion.

Surprised by how tame and innocent the plot lines are. This would never fly any more. The female lead and the boyfriend would have already had sex. Which would mean there would need to be a different drama driving the story forward–like the way Anne with an E had to front and center the abuse question because people just being people isn’t enough any more. I mean, what I’m trying to say is that the plot device of trying to keep the female lead from having sex and staying in school seems sort of quaint to me, in a twisted sort of way. How quickly the culture moved away from that being a thing.

At the same time, I find it utterly bleak as a plot device. Indeed, it is the perfect signpost with which to look back and mark the wreckage of the last seventy-five years.

Which leads me to my strongest impression of the program to date (I’m about to watch episode 15 if everyone will just leave me alone)–it might as well be the book of Ruth, less the belief in God, obviously.

Evermore as we march along toward cultural annihilation I find in my mind’s eye (incidentally, I sketch this out in my devotional in like twenty words or something, you should totally go buy it) the silhouette of Naomi and Ruth and Orpah standing in a lonely field, bereft of all the men. In the case of Ruth, the men have all died. There just aren’t any. Which is the worst and most exasperating kind of abandonment. But in our modern circumstances, the men just aren’t relevant. They are the side show to the main thing–women sorting out their own lives.

I don’t think I would have noticed this before. It’s taken the unmooring effect of having Hugh Hefner actually die, Harvey Weinstein really and truly disgraced, and multitudes of women saying #metoo for me, and probably the rest of the country, to see the deep brokenness of our sexual culture.

And what has lately impressed me isn’t the sex per se, but the loneliness of men and women being so divided from each other, and sex being the instrument, the means of the division itself. It’s the thing you think will satisfy, will bind you together with another person, because that’s what it’s Supposed to Do. But when you just have it as an accessory to the life of yourself, it makes you even more alienated and alone.

In other words, for so so many years there has been no question mark put to the hook up culture, no philosophical wondering about what everyone basically believes is the order–you meet, you have coffee (so much coffee), you have dinner, you have sex, you agonize between going ‘steady’ or to breaking up, you break up, you start over. At no point along the way do you consider marriage. Marriage is a hinderance, or an afterthought, or a quaint institution, much like the small town itself.

Whereas, if you did it in this order–you meet, you have coffee, you have dinner, you have more dinner, you get engaged, you start going to the same church, you get married and have cake, then you have sex–your whole life is oriented around and toward someone who won’t leave you abandoned in a field, or by the side of the road, or on the end of a phone call or email saying that they just don’t feel right about it any more. This order isn’t foolproof of course–jerks are gonna be jerks, abusers are gonna be conniving malicious manipulators, sin is always crouching at the door. But this other, one might say, more traditional order has the potential at least to produce a rich life of domestic affection and joy.

I mean, every time Loralei insists to her own mother that she does ‘have a life’ and that ‘Rory is the best thing that ever happened,’ I think, Yes, that’s true. But her mother also has a life. Her mother, for all her controlling terribleness, for all her constantly being the villain, has a much less precarious life, one that isn’t nearly so potentially lonely. I don’t buy the glow of warmth and delight cast over these two single women who don’t need the men because they just have each other.

I mean, I think it’s sort of tragically ironic–the idea that you need to hook up with a man to be happy, but being irrevocably bound to a man for your life is too dangerous and might wreck everything that you have going right now.

I think I’m why we can’t have nice things. Better go read better and less hung up Takes.

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