The “Cool Mum”
For younger teenagers were fans, they would not have minded having a Mum like Lorelai. She was a fine example of the “cool Mum”, a broad term which refers to a Mum leaning towards the more laid-back type, who is generally more “trendy” than the average Mum. However, Lorelai was more than just this stereotype because she would always show strong interest in her daughter, Rory, frequently giving her concrete advice, and always showed intrinsic love. Even if she disagreed with Rory’s decisions, she was always supportive. Nonetheless, some of her flaws did impact her motherhood. And while she is treasured by most, some fans of the show just cannot forgive the mistakes that she made, making her instead one of their most disliked characters.
What went wrong and where?
Lorelai sometimes did cross the line between being relaxed, and not holding Rory accountable. Not to mention, being overly complimentary. An extreme example was after 20-year-old Rory had spent the night in jail because of stealing a Yacht). But instead of confronting Rory with the fact that her actions were deplorable, she simply drove her home, cracked a few jokes then treated her to a box of donuts.
Another slightly less stark example, was when Rory’s car was damaged when she was 17, when she took it out with her and her Boyfriend at the time, Jess. Although really both were equally accountable for this incident, the entire blame was shifted onto Jess. At this stage, Rory was willing to point out that this was partially her fault, yet no one would have it. This way, perhaps if Lorelai had recognised that her daughter, just like everyone else, was not perfect, then Rory would not have grown into the overly entitled student at university, who would never accept any kind of responsibility for her actions. Moreover, during the revival when Rory was 32, she perhaps would have found herself being a somewhat successful journalist, due to her having the realisation that she needed to put in some effort and preparation to accustom success, knockbacks and criticism were expected and that just because she was Rory, a good job rather than an excellent job is not one to be turned down. This stands in complete contrast to Rory’s reality at that time, where she was without a home, without a job, and apparently without underwear. Sadly, this harshly illustrates what good intentions can sometimes lead to…
Furthermore, at times in the show it appeared that Lorelai was perhaps a little too involved in Rory’s love life. What’s more, although we loved watching them as best buds, sometimes this did slip into codependency. For instance, when Rory was at University, Lorelai depended on her to see her, especially when the dreaded Friday night dinners with Lorelai’s parents were involved. And even when Rory was younger, they perhaps did spend a little too much time together, which was something which Lorelai may have felt she needed but may have led Rory to depend too much on Lorelai.
Despite some of the mistakes Lorelai made, overall, Lorelai did make a good mother, especially considering that she had Rory at such an early age, thus having to make huge sacrifices, meanwhile consistently working incredibly hard at the Inn. Furthermore, Lorelai was an excellent friend, and she played more than her part in the community, despite many other commitments. Furthermore, let us not forget the times where she was more than altruistic, such as when she discovered that two of the girls who were supposed to be with Rory and Paris had run off to a party, where alcohol and goodness knows what else were involved, where she took the girls out of the potentially dangerous situation. Another was where she would spend hours listening to Paris, when Rory had dropped out of university, knowing that Paris did not have parents who were emotionally close. Lorelai recognised that Paris required comfort and guidance, and as Paris stated herself, Lorelai was like a second Mum to her. Furthermore, when witnessing Rory’s friend Lane having a troubled relationship with her Mum, Lorelai confronted Lane’s mother about this, which although it was not received most welcomingly at the time, Lane’s mum did somewhat alter her behavior toward Lane. And finally, much later, Lorelai confronted Lane about her Mum, implying that her Mum cared deeply for her in spite of everything. Here she was not only showing care for Lane’s wellbeing, but Lorelai was also trying to prevent history from repeating itself, where Lane and her Mum may have ended up more distant than necessary. Here, we not only see Loralai once again showing care for those around her, but it was her way of showing that she regretted what she did wrong regarding the relationship she had with her own mother. For sure, prevention is better than cure, and it is certainly easier.
Lorelai’s Love Life
Most fans would contain that it was the area of relationships where she would slip up most. For a start, she would constantly push others away, being Max at the start (who was perfect), then later, Luke (sad face as they belonged together), which led her to sleep with the boyfriend who she was with at 16, Christopher. This was not a good example to set for Rory, and is of course selfish, nonetheless, how much can we really blame Lorelai? Lorelai clearly had a very troubled relationship with both of her parents, who even though they were involved in her life throughout the show, there had been an incredibly long time where they had not spoken at all. Having to start bringing up a child ALONE at 16, must have left an emotional scar, and although as we come to see that Lorelai’s parents deeply cared for her, this certainly did not show this in convectional ways.
What’s more, the show certainly dropped enough hints that Emily had been emotionally abusive toward her daughter growing up, and that both of her parents had somewhat neglected her emotional needs. As a result, it is common for these experiences to impact people’s behavior around relationships later life, and since Lorelai had needed to be independent for such a prolonged period in her life, it is not surprising that being with someone who deeply loves and cares for her would be incredibly scary, even though it may have been something that she deeply desired. Plus, considering that the show was aired in 2000, there were nowhere near as many easily accessible resources relating to healing and preventing generational adversity from repeating itself. This way, it is fair to say that it is harder to hold Lorelai as accountable for some of her actions as it would be to do so for someone who has had similar experiences today.
The Relationship with Lorelai’s parents
This is a slightly complicated one because as I came to watch more of the show, it became clearer that neither of her parents were monsters. Her Mum, of whom there were the most quarrels with, did in fact care deeply for Loralai. This of course made some fans detest Lorelai’s decision not to tell her parents where she was, when fleeting the home at 16, because who would choose to do that when they had been raised in a prosperous home being more than taken care of physically? But again, she was only 16. And although Lorelai later realised that her not telling her Mum where she was made her worried sick, and heartbroken, there must have been a good reason for her not to confront her parents. Because in healthy circumstances, who would not?
But, throughout the show, both the Mum and Dad were cold and distant, and there were many strong signs that her Mum at least was emotionally abusive toward her growing up, partly as I realise now, because of her Mum’s own insecurities. Therefore, while Loralai did act in some immature ways toward her parents, as an adult as well as just when she was a teenager, there were some good reasons for this. Because while being emotionally abused and neglected may not lead to the social services banging the doors down, it is still an issue which leads to huge impacts, and more credit is due regarding how Loralai managed to remain confident, at least externally, and work her bum off, despite her huge setbacks.
Overall, do we love or hate her?
Even though I am a lot closer to Rory’s age throughout the show, I would say that I connect with Lorelai just as much as, if not more than Rory. Because, although here I am at 19 sat in my uni dorm at gone midnight typing this post (more of a Rory action than something which Lorelai would have done), having grown up with an emotional abusive mother and emotionally unavailable parents, I can relate to many of the things which Loralai must have gone through. Even I had a bit of a rebellious teenager phase where I seemed to do nothing but argue with my parents, until this got to hurt a bit too much, so from around the ages 14-15, this switched to me becoming a people pleaser, also managing to learn the art of not expressing my emotions, or even acknowledging them to myself, because really I had no one, thus it seemed like I had no other choice. Although this is something which I have been working on, I tell you that it is not easy, and the unfulfilled void becomes ever more apparent as this work continues. But I promise you that it is worth it! Therefore, it would be impossible for me to dislike Lorelai, especially considering that she finally does decide to receive therapy, and that even before then she tries incredibly hard to fulfil Rory’s needs by being a better mother than her own was to her. Afterall, she is filled with love, compassion and energy and is deeply admired by many fans including myself.