Rory Gilmore Gets a Lot of Hate, but I Think She Deserves Better
Ever since I was in sixth grade — the year I started watching the beloved TV series Gilmore Girls — I’ve had a loyal (if completely parasocial) companion in Rory Gilmore. Over the years, I’ve watched and re-watched the fast-talking, coffee-loving protagonist’s coming-of-age story as a source of comfort and inspiration. So you can imagine my shock and horror when I recently discovered many viewers don’t adore Rory the way I do — in fact, some hate her.
I discovered this sobering truth where many unfortunate discoveries are made: on social media. There are countless Instagram and TikTok posts about how Rory is the worst character on Gilmore Girls, with fans of the show calling her obnoxious, entitled, and inconsiderate. From what I’ve gathered, most of these opinions are really shaped once Rory starts college at Yale and proceeds to make a series of poor life decisions that affect not only herself, but also many people around her.
Sure, I too can admit Rory’s time at Yale does not always feature her brightest moments. But every time I panic-doomscroll through the comments section of a Rory-bashing social media post, I can’t help but think to myself: Haven’t we all made bad decisions — especially in college?
It irks me that Rory-haters seem to be judging her only based on her worst moments. But the truth is, many of the moments when Rory is most highly criticized are the same moments when she makes me feel the least alone. Like a big sister leading by example, Rory’s screw-ups have shown me that my young adult years aren’t a time to shame myself for messing up — they’re a time to mess up, and then learn from my mistakes.
Listen, if you’re a member of the I Hate Rory Gilmore Club, I see where you’re coming from. Despite her immense privilege, she often saw herself as an underdog, which can be frustrating to watch. But when it comes to her poor decisions in college, I think you should cut her some slack — because if you do, you might end up seeing a little more of yourself in her than you thought possible.
Here are five times her college experience felt supremely relatable to me.
1. Rory & Lorelai’s First Night at Yale
After a long day of hauling Rory’s things into her new dorm room, saying goodbye proves too tough, and after Lorelai goes home, Rory asks her to come back and stay with her. Upon first watch, it might seem weird for a new college student to want their mom to sleep over on their first night in school, but now, I totally get it: It didn’t really register in my brain that my first night away at college meant actually sleeping in my dorm room, far away from the only life I knew. As a clingy only child watching my parents drive away, I wanted nothing more than to be back in my childhood bedroom. I didn’t call them to come back and get me like Rory did with her mom, but I wanted to.
2. The Marty Mess
Soon after Rory moves into Yale, she befriends a guy named Marty, aka “Naked Guy,” a nickname coined after an awkward encounter Rory has with him. As most boys on the show do, Marty eventually falls in love with Rory, but Rory is in love with someone else. After Rory majorly friendzones Marty, he feels hurt that he can’t be with Rory romantically and ends their friendship.
College introduces you to a lot of people in a short amount of time, and it can be challenging to manage different relationship dynamics. I had a similar experience as Rory, when a friendship came to a crashing halt once I started dating someone else. It stings to lose a good friend, but the heart wants what it wants — and watching Rory handle that pain made my own pain hurt a little less.
3. The Logan Situationship
The guy who steals Rory’s heart from Naked Guy is the one and only Logan Huntzberger. His appeal is understandable: He’s quick-witted, charming, and handsome. (But let the record show: Jess is still my favorite.) When their situationship starts, Logan makes it clear he doesn’t date exclusively, and Rory likes him so much, she agrees to try it out. But when she realizes the whole open relationship thing isn’t right for her, Rory doesn’t beg for Logan’s attention, hide her feelings, or stalk his other love interests on Facebook (or whatever people were doing in 2004). She just tells him she’s out — plain and simple.
Of course, Logan is too in love with Rory to lose her and decides to have a committed relationship with her instead of letting her go, but she couldn’t have known that would be the outcome of her walking away from him. Advocating for yourself and not letting fear dictate your decisions should be a priority when you’re dating — especially in college, when most people are still figuring themselves out. It’s easier said than done, but at least we all have Rory to show us the ropes!
4. Spring Break Shenanigans
Rory is decidedly not a party girl, but when spring break rolls around and the New England weather is not springing at all, she and her friend Paris decide to take a trip to Florida. The whole spring break illustrates Rory’s efforts to venture outside her comfort zone and lean into the college experience.
At one point, she and Paris are sitting in their motel room eating pizza and Rory asks if they’re doing spring break right. I’ve often wondered the same thing, worrying about whether I’m having “the right” college experiences. But just like Rory, I am still giving it the old college try … even if that looks a little different than what’s expected of me.
That said, Rory ends up having a pretty stereotypical spring break after all. On that trip she meets a cute boy, attends a basement concert, goes to the beach, and has too much mystery punch with her old high school friends. I too have learned that taking a leap into unknown territory, like joining a sorority or deciding to study abroad, can be scary, but also highly rewarding. While I’ve been in college, I’ve found the most fun in the adventures I took on a whim or with little expectations. Thankfully, though, I’ve managed to steer clear of any mystery punch — thanks for the cautionary tale, Rory!
5. Her Less-than-Perfect College Experience
Rory’s Yale journey completely derails after she receives a piece of criticism she simply can’t get over. It all goes down when Mitchum Huntzberger, Logan’s dad and a renowned CEO of a Big Media Company, gives her a shot at an internship for a small newspaper his company acquired. At the end of her internship, Mitchum tells Rory she’s simply not cut out to be a great journalist. Crushed, Rory really takes it to heart and it sends her into a spiral, getting into legal trouble after stealing a boat (don’t try that one at home, kids) before deciding to take some time off from school.
Her reaction to this criticism is something many fans point to as evidence that Mitchum was actually right about Rory, but I firmly disagree. As a college student, figuring out what you want to do with your life is hard enough — let alone having someone tell you that you’re actually not good enough to do the thing you chose. In my opinion, you can’t write someone off just because they haven’t developed thick-enough skin to let harsh words roll off their back. An immunity to receiving negative feedback isn’t something everyone is born with. (I certainly wasn’t!)
This dark time in Rory’s life taught me that sometimes we have to take a hit to prove to ourselves that we can figure out how to survive, and how to avoid the same mistakes in the future. I’ve been discouraged by my own failures and fear of rejection during my college journey so far, but it was what I learned from them that mattered in the end.
Among the many offensive things Mitchum does on the show, he also says of Rory, “If she’s got what it takes, she’ll bounce back.” And you know what? Rory does bounce back — and if she can handle her college hurdles, I can handle mine, too.