Opinion: Lorelai Gilmore is Not the Mom You Thought She Was

Lorelai Gilmore is one of television’s most beloved moms. Maybe she shouldn’t be.


Yusra Jaleel, Staff Writer

The analysis below contains spoilers.

Many girls grew up idolizing the unique, best friend relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as mother and daughter in the show “Gilmore Girls.” A mom who listened to the same music, had the same taste in fashion, lived by an exclusive palette of the least nutritious foods possible and was much more focused on being her daughter’s best friend than a ruling parent became the source of envy for the young girls watching the show. I recall watching “Gilmore Girls” reruns religiously after school as a 12-year-old and thinking just this: Lorelai Gilmore made the best mom any girl could have, and Rory was lucky to have her.

However, rewatching the show as an adult brought about a brand new perspective for me in the way I viewed Lorelai. The traits that characterize her the most heavily and that are reflected so charmingly within the series now appear to be her biggest flaws.

Besides her unconventionally close relationship with her daughter, Lorelai is commended for her unwavering independence and having what is painted as a refreshingly youthful attitude. She left her parents’ home at the age of 17 with a newborn in tow, and she raised her daughter on her own while also building a new life from scratch for them both. Her facetious nature is a highlighted feature of her character, especially in comparison to the other eccentric characters in their town of Stars Hollow.  

Lorelai is presented and praised as highly independent, however her resolute commitment to being this way is actually a fault. Her perpetual grievance with her parents is their desire to control every aspect of her life. It’s this reason that emboldens her to run away from home as a teenager with her baby Rory. 

This issue with her parents does appear plausible; Richard and Emily Gilmore have a need to micromanage their daughter’s every affair, even into her adulthood throughout the show, both to mold her into the picture perfect daughter but also for her own best interests, according to their own convoluted, yet sincere, desires. 

Nevertheless, choosing her freedom over the wellbeing of her child is extremely irresponsible. Lorelai was very lucky that she found free housing – a renovated potting shed at the back of an inn – and a job – a maid position at said inn – immediately after leaving home. In reality, this would be an unlikely situation and the diplomaless, sheltered, teenage girl with a newborn baby would probably find herself homeless. 

Her parents, with their many faults, were providing her and her daughter with accommodations and opportunities exclusively available to the upper class. It would have been entirely possible for Lorelai to use these many advantages to safely separate herself from her parents with time instead of impulsively choosing to run away and putting herself and her infant at risk. 

This is not the only example of Lorelai compromising the safety and wellbeing of her daughter to feel self-sufficient. In the second season, the Gilmore girls discover their beloved home is infested with termites and requires $15,000 to fix. Lorelai doesn’t have the funds for this, and she’s turned down for a loan from four banks. 

She’s distressed by the situation, and this is even more apparent and felt by Rory. Nevertheless, Lorelai refuses to seek aid from her wealthy parents and forbids Rory from doing so as well. However, that night at their family’s weekly dinner, a worried Rory mentions the extensive costs to her grandmother who immediately offers to pay for the damage without question. Lorelai not only outright refuses her help, but she yells at Rory once they’re back in Stars Hollow. 

Lorelai wants so badly to feel independent that she prioritizes her ego at the expense of her child’s safety. Their home is falling apart, and she has no way of fixing the situation with the urgency that’s needed, yet she refuses to utilize the one opportunity she does have to ensure their safety. Lorelai is also continuously one to wear her heart on her sleeve, and seeing your mother so stressed about a very serious, time-sensitive situation that you both know has a possible solution must be nerve-wracking for a 16-year-old girl. Rory was doing what she felt was the right thing in reaching out for help from her grandparents, and Lorelai’s response to Rory’s doing so demonstrates her priorities. 

Lorelai’s youthful nature truthfully comes across as a profound immaturity. In the fourth season, while on a date with her father’s young business partner Jason, the pair complete their own late night grocery shopping at a market and sneak into the stockroom in search of a specific cereal. At this point, Lorelai punches in random employee time cards, and these two mid-30-something adults make a complete mess of the products organized on the shelves for their own entertainment. 

Then in season five, Emily and Richard host a wedding vow renewal ceremony they’ve spent countless hours planning. The night before the ceremony, Lorelai secretly takes the wedding planner’s binder containing the seating arrangement and rearranges everyone’s spaces based on the guest’s beef with one another. Even while her daughter tries to convince her mother to leave it alone, Lorelai finds it harmless and funny. The next day at the event, Emily recounts to her daughter and granddaughter the franticness of having to suddenly rearrange the seatings that morning. She blames it on the “moronic” wedding planner and immediately fires her.  

Lorelai gained nothing from her behavior in either of these situations. Her humor comes at the expense of other people’s livelihoods and hardwork. These actions don’t appear cutely childish as they do selfish, erratic, entitled and thoughtless. It appears as though her leaving home at seventeen left her mentally frozen at that same age for the rest of her life.   

Rewatching “Gilmore Girls nearly a decade later, I can’t say I think Rory was as lucky with Lorelai as I once firmly believed. It’s clear through Rory’s own behavior in later seasons, and the Netflix revival series, that Lorelai passed her entitlement and immaturity down to her daughter. “Gilmore Girls” will likely always remain a nostalgic series, and Lorelai Gilmore will likely always remain one of television’s most popular moms. Nevertheless, nostalgia is the rose-colored lense of the mind, clearly our 12-year-old opinions may not have been as unquestionable as we used to think.