I’m going to say what everyone is thinking: Rory Gilmore is a spoiled brat.
Similar to Rory, I am an aspiring writer with a BA in English, but unlike Rory, I didn’t attend an Ivy League school and I had to get a job outside my field after college. Rory Gilmore had resources and opportunities at her disposal that I only dreamed about. She had top grades with absolutely no effort and rich grandparents to pay for her expensive prep school, the combination of which landed her with acceptance letters to Princeton, Harvard and Yale. She chose to attend the latter and eventually became editor of the newspaper, a very coveted position.
Rory was glorified as being brilliant, talented and wise beyond her years throughout the first seven seasons of the show. No one in Rory’s life ever told Rory no, that she couldn’t do something, or even to perhaps have more realistic expectations for eventually generating an income. No one, that is, except Mitchum Huntzberger, a billionaire newspaper tycoon and the father of Rory’s college boyfriend Logan. Mr. Huntzberger is painted as a villain in Rory’s life, but only from a single incident in which he told Rory that he didn’t think she had what it takes to be a top reporter, but that she would “make a fine assistant someday.” This feedback was given at the end of a newspaper internship that Mitchum had handed Rory with no effort on her part. Having heard no negative feedback about her career ambitions up until this point, Rory falls apart, quits Yale, becomes estranged from her disappointed mother, and moves into her grandparents’ massive pool house (which they give a $40,000 home makeover just for her). Oddly, she stays in a relationship with Logan, the one whose father has crushed her lifelong dreams in less than five minutes.
The thing is, Mitchum Huntzberger had up until that point been generous and open to Rory being in his son’s life. He welcomed her and apologized after a disastrous dinner with the rest of Logan’s snobby family, and gave her an internship as an apology. His feedback to Rory, whether well-intentioned or not, stays consistent with who he is – a man who did not become the owner of a newspaper empire by telling people how special they all are, and who never even had to give Rory the time of day in the first place. Instead of taking this all into account, Rory remains completely self-absorbed, insistent that Mr. Huntzberger is out to get her. Logan tries to convince her otherwise, but Rory never does seem to get over mean Mr. Huntzberger. In one scene, after Mitchum becomes so frustrated with Logan’s reckless behavior that he sends him packing for London, Rory follows him into an elevator. “Why are you taking him away from me? Do you hate me that much?” she fumes. “You’re sending him away. What other reason is there than to separate us?” Mitchum looks like he’s about to burst out laughing. “You flatter yourself if you think I put that much energy into thinking about your relationship,” he tells her. “I’m doing what my father did for me. He pushed me, I grew up, and now Logan is going to grow up.”
I’ve had a few Mr. Huntzbergers in my life; people who have told me the harsh truth, told me to be realistic about my life, told me all kinds of things I don’t want to hear. These are the authority figures we all have, who we rely on for our wellbeing, whether they are our parents who feed us or employers who give us our paychecks or the hiring managers who decide if we got the job. At some point we have to decide to listen to what they say if we ever want to eat and make rent again. Rory had perhaps the most valuable career mentor possible available at her fingertips, and she chose to reject his initial feedback and shut down. She eventually finds her way back to Yale and the journalism department, but her tensions with Mr. Huntzberger are never resolved. At a birthday dinner for Logan in Rory’s senior year, Mitchum tells Rory that she can take her pick of his newspapers to work for. “I seem to remember you telling me that I ‘didn’t have it,’” she says, visibly annoyed.
“Things change, circumstances change,” he replies.
Years later, we enter the brand new season of Gilmore Girls to find Rory flailing around in life, failing as a writer, rootless. She is now 32 years old and is still absolutely horrible at job interviews, perhaps in part because she is so used to opportunities simply being handed to her. After a failed interview with a women’s website – which she ignored offers from for a year and then as a last resort waltzed in not expecting to have to sell herself – she expresses to the CEO how pissed off she is: “You got my hopes up for a job I didn’t even want!”
Rory displays a shockingly arrogant attitude for someone who has been apparently freelancing for the last ten years. No full-time staff writing position could possibly be beneath her, and yet here she is, scoffing at a women’s website.
And she still hates Mr. Huntzberger. Rory is having an affair with Logan, who is engaged to another woman. It is not clear whether this happened recently or has been ongoing for the last decade, but what is apparent is that Rory seems just as unhealthily codependent on Logan now as she was during college. She encounters Logan’s father one day in a restaurant one day; he walks up as she is telling Logan about a newspaper that keeps pushing back an interview. “Do you want me to make a call?” Mr. Huntzberger asks. Rory declines. After he leaves she expresses her discomfort in seeing him again, asking Logan how they managed to run into his father (the family owns stock in the restaurant, of course). What Rory still doesn’t seem to understand after ten years of ignoring Mr. Huntzberger as a valuable professional contact is that her codependence on Logan translates to reliance on Mr. Huntzberger anyway, as Logan himself is dependent on the family fortune. Rory continues to bite the hand that feeds her and is failing in life as a result.
After the disastrous interview with the women’s website, Rory gives up the job search completely and moves home to Stars Hollow, a decision that is reminiscent of her dropping out of Yale. Instead of continuing the job search, she volunteers to be editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette, a failing small town newspaper with a staff that appears to be at death’s door. Here Rory takes a first step toward humility: after removing the traditional poem from the front page for her first issue as editor, the entire town complains. Rory is resistant at first, but finally listens and reinstates the poem in the next issue. This might mark the first time in her career that she has listened to anyone, and is a turning point in her life. After one more crazed night of partying with Logan and his friends, Rory splits ways with Logan to let him be engaged – and soon afterward finds out she’s pregnant (the father is unknown but it makes sense that it would be his). While Rory’s mother Lorelai has finally come to peace with her life, Rory’s has officially fallen apart.
The fact that Rory has crashed and burned might be what finally makes her an endearing character. It took until the very last episodes of a very long show, but I finally feel like I can somewhat relate to Rory as a realistic personality; the show did a good job of finally following through with the consequences of Rory’s actions. Though I feel that the newest season is poorly written and completely misses the mark with its humor—with jokes offensive to multiple groups of people and a random, bumbling musical—it at least stays true to Rory’s and Lorelei’s personal journeys and comes around full circle. After raising her daughter as a single mom with minimal contact with her family, Lorelei is finally able settle into a happy marriage, a much improved relationship with her mother and stability for herself. And after Rory’s upbringing of seemingly being able to do no wrong, always projected to have a successful career and perfect life, we see Rory starting back where Lorelei first did: broke and with a baby on the way.
Perhaps now, starting with this new scenario of Rory needing to figure out her life not only for herself but now for someone else, we can imagine the messy growth and steady maturing of a character who is slowly becoming believable. And if Logan does indeed turn out to be the father, perhaps there is more to come in the saga of Rory and Mr. Huntzberger.