Does Gilmore Girls romanticize affairs and the “rich snob” stereotype?

Katie Campbell

More stories from Katie Campbell


Photo by Katie Campbell

Junior Pearl Hoffman watches Gilmore Girls Season 6 episode 8, when Jess meets Logan for the first time and calls out Rory for her unusual behaviour.

The popular 2000s television series Gilmore Girls centers on the beloved mother-daughter duo, Rory and Lorelai Gilmore. The show presents a variety of underlying themes, from complex family relationships to the gravity of wealth and social classes.

One of the biggest controversies of the show is set between Rory’s development as she transitions from an innocent high school with large ambitions to a self-centered, opportunistic adult. However, for some reason, every character seems to be infatuated with Rory. The show seems to promote Rory’s advantageous and self-absorbed behavior by romanticizing her affairs and the financial support she receives through close relationships.

One of the first major shifts in Rory’s character can be seen after her ex, Dean Forester, gets married to a girl named Lindsay Lister. Rory becomes jealous, and eventually, possessive, as she believes Dean, being her first love, belongs to her. When Dean and Lindsay started experiencing trouble in their relationship, an opportunity was created for Rory to grow closer to Dean, which spirals into an affair. When Lorelai catches the pair leaving Rory’s room, she condemns Rory for her actions, accusing them both of cheating. The argument escalates, and Rory refutes, “He doesn’t love her; he loves me!” We see how selfish Rory has become, believing Dean is rightfully “hers.” This possessive mindset may have developed after Jess entered her life, and Rory was caught in a love triangle. She realized she could have every man wrapped around her finger, and her power over them was threatened when Dean married Lindsay.

After the argument with her mother, Rory tries to call Dean, but Lindsay answers instead. She immediately hangs up and begins to cry on the front porch. At this point, I believed she was feeling the guilt from sleeping with another woman’s husband. However, after further probing, I came to the conclusion that Rory did not in fact regret or learn from her actions, as she does it again! She did not take into account Lindsay’s feelings, nor her mother’s advice. She meets up with Dean at Miss Patty’s to “talk,” but instead, gives in to the temptation of sleeping with him for a second time. Is she so self-absorbed that she is blind to Dean’s relationship with another woman? I think we can reasonably conclude that Rory lost her virginity to a married man, destroying the marriage in the process, because her own self-obsession led her to believe that she had overwhelming power over the men who have been infatuated with her.

If you thought Rory had learned something from her affair with Dean, you thought wrong! In the Gilmore Girls one-season revival, A Year in the Life, we realize Rory is having an affair with Logan, who is engaged to a woman named Odette in London. We learn they’d agreed on a “no strings attached relationship,” which others may call “friends with benefits.” They are both reluctant to part ways, sleeping together as a final goodbye the night before Logan leaves for London. Either Rory has no sense of morals whatsoever, or she is completely oblivious to the fact that it’s still cheating if he’s not married yet. But wait– it gets better! Rory is also in a relationship with a man named Paul, who Lorelai and Luke are introduced to. The most unsettling part about it is her absence of guilt, even as she receives a text message from Paul while she is with Logan, as she says exasperatedly, “I’ve got to break up with this guy.” As a now fully grown adult, Rory knows exactly what she’s doing. However, she knows she could have any guy she wants at her disposal, because for some reason, they keep crawling back! Rory is completely caught up in her self-obsession, and it has destroyed her character.

Another factor that has influenced Rory’s personality is her relationships with people who have wealth. Throughout the show, she relies on them for money and other demands. It starts with an arrangement with her grandparents, in which they agreed to pay for her tuition at Yale. We wonder if Lorelai was right to be hesitant about relying on her parents for financial support, as it may have induced the spoiled attitude Rory soon develops.

In season 6, without consideration of the money her grandparents have committed to her tuition, Rory decides to drop out of Yale “temporarily,” and even has the nerve to further exploit her grandparents’ wealth by living in their pool house. As she becomes more comfortable, she moves into the main house, living in luxury, like a blood-sucking parasite.

— Katie Campbell

Rory leeches off not only her family, but her boyfriend as well (as she should). Her persona finally fits the “rich snob” cliche after she meets Logan Huntzberger, the charming, happy-go-lucky, son of a successful newspaper magnate. However, did this convenient access to wealth deteriorate Rory’s character? It’s almost as if her character development is backwards. Moments before they steal a yacht together in episode 21 of Season 5, Logan says with a smirk, “I think I’ve been a bad influence on you.” He has never been more correct.

In Season 6 episode 6, Jess visits Rory. After meeting Logan and getting a glimpse of Rory’s new life, he tells her, “This isn’t you. Living at your grandparents’ place? No Yale? Why did you drop out of yale?!” Preach, sister. Jess sees the drastic changes in Rory’s character, clear as day, and he helps Rory see it too, which Logan could have never done. However, the one thing Jess fails to realize is that Rory is content with her pretentious boyfriend and her affluent, blood-sucking lifestyle. Rory is no longer Rory. She is a manipulative, self-absorbed adulterer, and the people love it. Through the beloved character of Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and even unhealthier relationships.