Recently, I came to a very important self-realization. As much as I may stay somewhat aware of what’s happening in pop culture (harder to do with a baby in hand, it has to be said) the world is moving further and further away from what was clearly the peak pop culture era of the late 90s-late 2000s. I will never love TV shows the way I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pushing Daisies, or Farscape. And while it might not seem to fit in the same genre, I have to add to the list — the Gilmore Girls.
I love the Gilmore Girls. And clearly I am not the only one, as it seems the internet has risen up in cry of collective delight to celebrate the fact that as of today, October 1, all seven seasons of the series are now available on Netflix. Sure, I already have the whole show on either DVD or downloaded from i-tunes. But now my love of the Gilmore Girls and my love of laziness meet in one convenient package as I no longer have to go through the arduous process of putting in a DVD to revisit the antics of the lovely people of Stars Hollow. It is a happy day, indeed.
On somewhat deeper reflection, however, it has been incredibly fascinating to note the diverse sources online expressing so much delight at the addition of Gilmore Girls to the Netflix line up. It’s is clear that the Gilmore Girls have been this quiet fan-favourite show ticking along quietly underneath the main stream of popular culture for well over a decade now. And yet, everyone seems compelled to offer their apology for why they like this quirky, crazy little show.
And I get it. I was a “closet” Gilmore Girls fan for years. Any time I mentioned the goings-on of Lorelai or Rory, I would always sheepishly admit … “Oh, you know, Gilmore Girls. It’s my little guilty pleasure.” I even teased Leeman several years ago when I discovered he had started watching the series on his own. After all, a GUY isn’t supposed to watch a show about GIRLS!
That is when it hit me that I was sheepishly ashamed of the Gilmore Girls … because it is a show about “girls.” Who cares if it has an ensemble cast with great chemistry, some of the most clever dialogue on TV, and a refreshingly honest way of depicting the complex webs that are human relationships? Girls are dumb, ergo, a show like this could never really be more that a guilty pleasure. It is a subtle, but telling, example of the way in which we are conditioned by society to view things pertaining to women as somehow “lesser” than things pertaining to men. I think about this quite a lot lately now that I have a daughter of my own. It is ok for girls to play with boy toys, but somehow we look askance at boys who would choose to play with girl toys. In fact, we cannot even ask boys to condescend to include female super heroes in their merchandize — even when the female heroes are part of whatever franchise is being marketed at the moment. No Wonder Woman in the Justice League. No Black Widow in the Avengers, No Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy.
My somewhat sheepish reluctance to admit how much I enjoy the Gilmore Girls illustrates how insidious prejudicial thoughts that privilege the stories of one group of people over another can infect our unconscious attitudes to the world we encounter. As “enlightened” or “progressive” as I was trying to be, I was selling my gender short by dismissing a clever, moving show (one FULL of fascinating, dynamic, and diverse women) … just because it was about women. If I could let those unspoken assumptions impact my attitude towards something as nominally trivial as a TV show, consider how such prejudices and dangerous assumptions manifest themselves in our attitudes and behaviours towards actual people we encounter in our actual lives. That is a potentially disturbing thought and one we must be conscious of within the church as we fight for justice and equality for all people. How much are we ourselves still subject to problematic attitudes?
I have no easy answers to these questions. So, for now, I will merely leave them here for us to ponder. And go binge watch some Gilmore Girls. Oy with the poodles already!