I saw my first episode of the television show “Gilmore Girls” sophomore year of high school when I was homesick. The episode took place at Yale, and although the show was interesting, I switched off the television when it was over and turned my thoughts to healing from my cold. Only when I was admitted to Yale did it occur to me to watch the show again — I went to the library, rented the seven seasons on DVD and viewed them all before I left home for the fall semester.
For those who have never seen “Gilmore Girls,” an explanation: The show is about a single mother, Lorelai Gilmore, and her daughter, Rory, who live in a small town in Connecticut and engage in witty, hundred-mile-an-hour conversations rife with pop culture references and, well, more pop culture references. Rory goes to Yale (naturally after choosing it over Harvard) and the show ends upon her graduation from college to go work as a reporter covering Barack Obama’s presidential run.
Though “Gilmore Girls” has its factual shortcomings — for example, Rory is in Branford College, but lives in Durfee as a freshman — it does offer a rather accurate portrayal of campus life. Admittedly, I have been in New Haven only for a short time, but many facts about the show ring true: Rory goes to class, takes naps and consumes copious amounts of coffee. At the same time, she manages to look well-rested, be nicely dressed and pay frequent visits to her mother at home. I therefore took it as a compliment of the highest order when an acquaintance told me I was “the Roriest girl” he knew — by the end of my summer TV marathon, I wanted to be just like Rory. I felt that goal would be well within my grasp once I started at Yale.
Upon my arrival, however, I was horrified to find that I was not alone. At least two-thirds of the girls I spoke to during the first two days of orientation mentioned that “Gilmore Girls” played no small role in their choosing Yale, and that they, too, shared my ambition of being Rory Gilmore’s real-life counterpart. Apparently, every brown-haired girl from the Northeast going to Yale has been told that she resembles Rory Gilmore at some point in her life. Suddenly, there a competition was set up: Who was the Roriest of all?
Whether or not all the competitors knew, the games had begun.
One girl had a grandmother who had bought all her common room furniture, as Emily Gilmore does during Rory’s first week at school. Another girl was from a tiny town in Connecticut. Another girl even had the same last name, Gilmore. My claim in the competition was that I was in Branford College, but even within the group of Branford girls there were still many others claiming to be the true Rory Gilmore.
As the games wore on, my self-doubt grew. There was no way I, a girl from a suburb of New York City raised in a two-parent household, could even hope to live up to the title of Roriest.
That was then. The product of first-week anxiety.
But now, after living at Yale for a month, I am beginning to realize that there is no exact replica of Rory Gilmore on our campus. Someone has the name, someone the family, someone the college; rarely does any have all three — even if she did, what would it matter? “Gilmore Girls” should serve as an inspiration for greatness, not for competition; without trying to prove ourselves Roriest, we have to remember what the show was really about: family and friendship.
Wait, forget that mushy stuff. We in New Haven know what the show is really about — choosing Yale over Harvard.
Erica Rothman is a freshman in Branford College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org