So recently, I forced myself to binge Gilmore Girls. I know. I’ll allow you a moment to gasp in wonder at my much courage so bravery.
But in an effort to maintain transparency, I totally did it for $$$. With the news about the Netflix revival coming, I planned to work through the episodes so that Jamie and I could record a Deep Dive on the show and so I did. And so we did.
I gotta be honest though. In beginning to watch the show, I felt a little wobbly about it because I’m a guy. And it felt strange to watch a show very much not oriented around me and very clearly not written with me as a viewer in mind. So there was some inner turmoil. There were definitely some interior monologues and today, I wanted to share those inner conversations with you, the kind and reasonable denizens of these here internets.
+ But Knox, Gilmore Girls is a female show. +
OH MAN. I know right. There ARE multiple females on this show. And in all the important parts too. It’s incredible. I mean, we live in the South so experiencing this kind of female-to-male speaking ratio is more disorienting than thinking through what an earnest and authentic conversation between Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton must look like. And the Bechdel Test is being passed left and right. It’s definitely a lot for us to take in.
+ So why would we watch this? We are not a lady. +
Great question. And I get where you are coming from, but that’s a bit of a limiting context to consider things through, isn’t it?
Think about it like this: for white dudes like us, you know what our Gilmore Girls is? ALL OF TELEVISION.
If you’ve ever heard a white man antihero growl something about BEING THE DANGER RAWWWRRRR or being a good man who did a bad thing, or just being a handsome guy who goes to work so he can drank, smoke, sleep and occasionally take speed then you can consider that our Gilmore Girls.
+ Why though? +
Because these are protagonists we can reasonably identify with.
+ You’re saying we can reasonably identify with an aspirational drug lord and characters played by humans who look like Kyle Chandler and Jon Hamm? +
I didn’t say this identification was rooted in reason. All it has to do is approach the orbit of authentic realism. You’re telling me we’ve never stood in line at the Great American Cookie Company kiosk in the mall and felt dangerous or pondered our own moral complexity or wished it was socially acceptable to drink, nap or perhaps take illicit drugs at work?
+ You know we only do that at Sbarro. +
You’re totally right. (They high-five because Sbarro is awesome.)
The point is, we’re pretty clearly represented on the televisional landscape. Lots of options. We’re Templeton at the fair and it’s veritable schmorgasboard out there of identifiable protagonists.
+ Fine, but why watch a show about women and the women things they do? +
Again, great question. And loving your handle on how to talk about women, by the way. So deft and precise.
Let’s look at it like this: on the five major TV networks, 90% of all shows are run by white people. And of that, 78% are men.
+ What are you saying? You know we don’t do math. +
Yeah I don’t know why I even tried that. We were really on the precipice of calamity just now weren’t we? You can’t see me, but my nose started bleeding like Eleven from going into math overdrive.
Regardless, if we agree that most of our TV comes through white guy POV, any time there is a departure from that norm, I think it merits paying attention to.
+ That sounds so PC. Why are you trying to sound PC? +
I’m not trying to sound PC. (Takes on a vaguely Italian accent) I’m trying to make life a spicy meatball!
+ Don’t do accents. Our accents are trash. +
Fair. I’m just saying anytime you have the chance to look at life through a different lens or worldview, why not try it? Why wouldn’t you want to freshen up your entertainment palate? For the purposes of this conversation, we’re talking about Gilmore Girls, but this applies to any context where white guy POV has been eschewed.
We watched Atlanta. Tell me you didn’t love it.
+ I did love it. So hard. +
Right? It was amazing. Part of that amazingness is because it’s just a good story told well and beautifully with amazing performances turned in by Zazie Beets, Lakeith Stanfield and Brian Tyree Henry.
But a contributing factor to this amazingness was the nuanced fact that all of it was told through points of view we don’t usually get to see. And instead of that being an impediment, it was a…a…a thing that is not an impediment.
+ Wait, why are we talking about Atlanta? I thought we were talking about Gilmore Girls? +
You’re right. Forgive me. We are. So is Gilmore Girls really a show about female relationships and specifically the boundaries between mothers and daughters? Yeah. It totally is. But isn’t Breaking Bad a brilliant man’s reaction to being marginalized? Isn’t Mad Men about the rise of the modern white american dude? Isn’t The Walking Dead a convoluted look at white idiots with repressed anger problematically trying to establish order and structure within the apocalypse?
+ I mean, I guess- +
Those were rhetorical questions.
+ All of them? You asked a lot of questions and every single one of them was rhetorical? +
Yeah I was building MOMENTUM.
+ Momentum for what? +
For a conclusion about how women and minorities watch soooooo many shows where the characters they identify with are largely relegated to supporting roles at best. So why can’t we watch a show where most of the characters we identify with are positioned similarly?
+ Fiiiiiiiiiiine. We’ll watch it. We were always going to watch it. +
Because of the money?
+ Sbarro isn’t free. +