Lorelai Gilmore Doing WILD
A few weeks ago, a conversation exploded in a Gilmore Girls Fan Group on Facebook. It started by someone posting how much they hated the recent Netflix revival of the show along with a list of things they felt never would have happened. I'm a Gilmore Girls fan. I came late to the party but have been through the entire seven seasons twice in less than a year, so I have that shiny new enthusiasm for the series that happens to us all when we discover something new. Which explains why I fee like talking about this!
There were strong reactions of love and hate about the GG revival. I loved it, mostly because it's fun to see where characters are after we said goodbye to them. As a writer of series fiction myself, I strongly believe in the creator's vision for characters, and I know you can't please all of the people all of the time, so kudos to Amy Sherman-Palladino (ASP) for revisiting the series in the first place. But of all of the criticisms that I've read, the one that sticks with me is that Lorelai Gilmore would never do Wild.
If you're not familiar with Wild, it was a #1 NY Times Bestseller, Oprah book club pick, and voted the best non-fiction book of 2012. Here's the back jacket copy:
"At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."
I haven't read Wild. I knew as much about Wild as I did The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I forgot the name of and just Googled as "magic of uncluttering"), also mentioned in the revival, meaning, I sorta knew what it was about through hearsay. First: the Wild storyline speaks to the importance of books in these characters' lives, a predominant theme in the original seven seasons of the show. But the idea is that people who feel lost will do what author Cheryl Strayed did: hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, in search of something bigger than herself.
I'm assuming, if you've read this far, that you're familiar with Lorelai Gilmore. You know she's a bit on the self-centered side. The single defining moment in her life was getting pregnant at sixteen. Because of that her already contentious relationship with her parents exploded into an energy-draining struggle for independence, she had a daughter who became both her confidant and best friend, she has a poor track record with men, and she grew up fast while still being young. She's trapped like a girl/woman, sometimes acting like the sixteen-year-old within and sometimes being the mom who takes care of everything and everybody.
Of all the characters on GG, I identify with Lorelai the most. I know I'm a bit on the self-centered side. I no longer see this as a bad thing, because if you only put others first, you'll get bitter, and that's no good! And much of that feeling of being trapped as a girl/adult is also caught in my character Samantha Kidd. (sidenote: I've tried to write about Samantha's family, but whenever I reread what I write, it sounds like I'm dissing my own family--even though the characters are made up and not based on my parents at all. This is the downfall of writing a character close to yourself but giving them an alternate reality.)
I think the reason I keep thinking about this one particular criticism of the GG revival is that I can very clearly see Lorelai Gilmore doing Wild. If her entire adult life was defined by the decision to cut ties with her rich parents and raise her daughter while amassing a Louis Vuitton-Matched-Set-of-Luggage sized amount of emotional relationship baggage, then OF COURSE she'll be off kilter when A) her father dies, B) her daughter, who had all the opportunities Lorelai herself sacrificed, now finds herself lacking direction, and C) she's in a long-term, stable relationship that is drifting indefinitely toward nothing specific. If the one decision that defined her life was doing what no one would ever believe she would do, then it makes complete sense to me that she would do Wild, which fans are criticizing as something she would never do.
She needs to be off-kilter to find her center. And you know what? It works. It takes her character out of the setting we see normally see her in: Stars Hollow, where the people around her know all of her quirks and annoying habits, and puts her against people who meet her for the first time. It lets us see that no matter where she goes, she makes friends easily. She takes care of others. She literally can't let go of her baggage. ("literally" is for people who have watched the revival because you'll know what I mean :)) She tries to fast-talk her way into the park when she loses her waiver--and Lorelai is nothing if not a fast talker!. And when it's all said and done, she gets what she went for, but not in the way she planned.
I think, aside from Paris Geller slamming a bathroom door shut in a move worthy of Jackie Chan, this storyline was my favorite part of the entire revival, because it shows Lorelai, not as just a self-centered girl/woman, but as a character who constantly strives to grow. In that sense, I hope I really am right about being like her.
(I don't know if that link will work. If not, you can find it on Netflix)
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