Gilmore Girls, a show that centered on the mother/daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, had a successful run of seven seasons from 2000 to 2007. In 2016, there was a four-episode reboot told in seasons—autumn, winter, spring, and summer—called, A Year in the Life.
Those of us who grew up with Gilmore Girls recognize how special the show was, both with its depiction of the core relationships, family struggles, and strong friendships. In addition, the dialogue was quick, fun, full of literary and pop culture references. Those unfamiliar with Gilmore Girls who watched the A Year in the Life complained about the world of privilege to which both Lorelai and Rory seemed to belong and tried to understand why Gilmore Girls had been and has been popular for so long. One of those reasons is Lorelai Gilmore, a complicated/layered character. She grew from being a single teenage mother rejected by her wealthy parents and background, who had to learn to provide for herself and her daughter, to a successful businesswoman and generous community member. She taught us important life lessons that are still relevant today.
10 Practice Self-Reliance
At 16 years of age, Lorelai left everything that she owned, all of the benefits that could come from being a Gilmore, in order to raise Rory on her own. She starts working at a local inn as a maid and eventually becomes the manager. She takes night classes on her own while working full-time, and she achieves an AA in business. With her best friend, Sookie, she eventually becomes a co-owner of a new inn.
Even her parents, Emily and Richard, start to realize and admire Lorelai’s self-reliance. Emily admires Rory’s dress for a formal school dance and is surprised when she finds out that Lorelai made it for Rory. When Emily’s skirt rips, Lorelai fixes it with a paper-clip. To help Richard start up his business, Lorelai sets up his home office for him. When Emily and Richard aren’t criticizing Lorelai—which, granted, is rare—they are both surprised by her self-reliance. The only reason that Lorelai dips back into her parents’ money is to get Rory a good high school education, a loan she vows to pay off, and eventually does.
9 Value Community
On top of participating in town festivities like the 24-hour Dance-a-thon, Lorelai practices community in her service with others. It can be said that the people of Stars Hollow are her family. When Luke has to arrange his uncle’s funeral, Lorelai helps out around the diner and has Rory help as well. At the beginning of the series when Babette’s cat dies, Lorelai is there to console her. When Rory’s best friend, Lane, needs a place for her band to practice, Lorelai clears out her packed garage so that they can practice there. Although Lorelai may make fun of the people of Stars Hollow, she loves them and would do anything to help out.
8 Be Flexible
For years, Lorelai has been talking to Rory about attending Harvard, so much so that it seemed she wanted to live vicariously through her daughter. However, when Rory starts to make her pro and con list, and Yale comes out ahead, Lorelai adjusts for her daughter. No matter how upset Lorelai was with her parents for pushing Yale on Rory, it doesn’t matter when Rory prefers this college. Quickly, she replaces the Harvard posters with Yale posters and celebrates the change with Rory.
7 Maintain Your Child’s Connection to Family
Lorelai doesn’t always have an easy relationship with Christopher or her parents, but she doesn’t let her own personal conflicts compromise Rory’s relationship with them. Even when Lorelai and Christopher fight, she always wants Rory to have a relationship with her father. Even when Lorelai and her parents are in conflict, Lorelai still encourages Rory to spend time with her grandparents.
6 Be Observant and Reflective
There are times when Lorelai reacts to her parents in a harsh way; based on her history with them, she doesn’t completely trust them and is wary of their intentions. When Emily offers her a free ticket to a spa and then comes along, Lorelai resents it until Emily states that she just wanted to have time with her daughter. Lorelai checks herself and decides to try to connect with her mother. When problems occur with Emily first lashing out at Lorelai and then complaining that they don’t have a close mother/daughter bond like Lorelai and Rory do, Lorelai tells her that their bond is different, but they can start small. They steal a robe together, and that becomes a small memory that it remains just between the two of them.
5 Be in a Good/Healthy Romantic Relationship
Luke and Lorelai have perhaps that most beautiful relationship—aside from Jackson and Sookie. They start as friends, do small things to help each other out, and confide in each other. They are an example of how out of friendship, out of mutual respect, love can grow. A caveat to this would be that yes, understand that even good relationship can have challenges. Luke and Lorelai often stumble with clear communication, and the series shows them working on this through many episodes and seasons. Good relationships take work and are not the happily-ever-after flat ending. Honestly, they wouldn’t be very interesting if they were.
4 Take Time to Collect Yourself
In the reboot, Lorelai goes through a lot; the death of her father, the stagnant nature of her relationship with Luke, the continued complicated relationship with her mother, and the thought of having another child. After reading Into the Wild, she decides to hike the Pacific Rim herself. She is not prepared or a hiker, but she needs time to herself. Thankfully, walking out to see the natural beauty behind a parking lot, is enough.
She calls her mother to tell her a memory that she has with her father. During the call, Lorelai’s voice shakes with grief, but you can tell by Emily’s reception that the sharing of the memory connects them. It shows that they are both grieving, and while their grief may be separate, they are also united in it. After having the time to collect herself, Lorelai is also ready to come back home and propose to the man she loves, Luke.
3 Admit Your Mistakes
When Sookie and Lorelai begin their business venture, Lorelai criticizes Sookie, which threatens their friendship. This is the first time that they have gotten into a real fight. Later, Lorelai realizes that she is doing this, not because of any doubt in Sookie’s capabilities, but because she is anxious and afraid of failure. She apologizes to Sookie, admits that she is anxious, and then they move on together as a team.
2 Give Both Love and Tough Love to Your Children
Most of the series, Lorelai gives ample love to Rory, but also gives tough love when needed. When Rory sleeps with married Dean, Lorelai calls her out. She tells Rory that she has become the other woman and that Dean is no longer Rory’s Dean. When Rory drops out of Yale, Lorelai also expresses her disapproval. For almost everything, Lorelai gives love and support to Rory. However, she is also not afraid to be honest and to give tough love when needed.
1 Be Joyful/Discover Joy in Everyday Things
This is probably the largest inspiration that Lorelai offers. She sees the joy in small things: falling snow, a good movie, a good song, and really good coffee. She can turn a negative experience into something positive. In Season 3, she teaches Emily how to deal with her mother-in-law, Lorelai’s grandmother. Emily comes over to Lorelai’s house, complains about how awful the couch is, telling Lorelai that “you may like it, but your grandmother will not. She’s going to take one look at the junk-store collection of hobo furniture, and she’s going to blame me.”
Lorelai gives advice to Emily that we all can live by, “You need to develop a defense mechanism for dealing with Grandma… take me for example, I know there are many things in my life you don’t approve of, like this couch. Now at one point in my life, you saying a couch I carefully picked out and had to pay off 8 months is terrible might’ve hurt my feelings, but not anymore. Because one day I decided instead of being hurt and upset by your disapproval, I’m going to be amused. I’m going to find it funny. I’m even going to take a little bit of pleasure in it. I encourage it for a laugh sometimes… this idea could set you free.”
Wherever it was in giving guidance to Emily or Rory or residents of Stars Hollow, Lorelai’s lessons are relevant and important even to this day. This is one reason Gilmore Girls has remained popular.