Congratulations and welcome to Yale! If you’re anything like me, you can appreciate the value of a certain seven season length series known as “Gilmore Girls.” And if you have watched the show, you are fully aware that one of the main protagonists — rightfully so — abandoned her Harvard dreams to attend Yale. For four seasons, the show highlighted the crazy ups and downs of Rory’s life as she navigated the complexities of the Ivy League experience and painted a lustrous image of the Yale experience for a lot of easily-influenced teenage minds, myself included. But before you go stealing boats, crashing them and indefinitely dropping out, here’s a complete and serious lecture on why you should probably re-evaluate your expectations before you find yourself in New Haven. (Spoiler alert … but also this show is literally over two decades old so you have no one to blame but yourself at this point.)
I will be completely honest: I was obsessed with this show. So much so that my re-watching the Yale years of Rory Gilmore in preparation for this article quite possibly made it my fifth time (or more) watching it. And I completely remembered why “Gilmore Girls” made Yale seem so great. The show gave Yale the same quirkiness that created the atmosphere of Stars Hollow, the fictional town the show is set in. But now, with my experience, I understand why the show is just … not correct.
Let’s start with Rory’s freshman year, shall we? You will never, never, never, never get as much take-out food as Rory and her mother got on her move-in day — ever. This is something that transcends class honestly because anyone who has looked at the delivery fees on Postmates would lose their appetite and decide to eat sleep for dinner before they decided to order out at every single delivery restaurant on campus. Also, there’s just no way Rory wasn’t in Directed Studies. She fits all the qualities needed for DS and would’ve absolutely adored the structural basis of it. But for some reason, the show went into great detail to explain the process of getting one’s college student ID picture taken rather than ever mentioning this extremely influential program amongst first years. It seems to be one of those things that everyone has to talk about, especially during move-in. “Are you in DS?” “What section are you in?” “Do you guys know about DS?” “Have you completed the summer reading for DS?” Because yes, at Yale, summer reading is possible. And on the topic of subjects that run rampant for first years that were just non-existent in the entire span of Rory’s time at Yale, Toad’s is a big deal. It has always been a big deal. It will always be a big deal. So if you think that you won’t hear about stories of people going to a club named after an amphibian, rethink that.
I would be remiss not to mention, if you decide to work at the Yale Daily News like Rory Gilmore does, please know that the size of the News is not as small as “Gilmore Girls” makes it seem. And if anyone ever has a complaint about one of your articles, they will not dramatically confront you in the dining hall for everyone to see, but rather send you a passionate email about their feelings towards it which (and don’t tell anyone this) you can just ignore, much like your coursework.
Now, for Rory’s sophomore year where everything just goes … awry (which will most likely happen during your first midterm season). Although I’m not in a secret society at Yale (not like I could tell you if I was anyways), I’m pretty sure they would never have you jump off a bridge with an umbrella while under the influence of alcohol. It just screams lawsuit and public scandal which would, you know, ruin the secret aspect of the secret society. But the alcohol aspect seems pretty accurate. Furthermore, you wouldn’t be invited to an event over instant message. It was as if The Life and Death Brigade weren’t even trying to remain a secret.
Now, a little on Rory’s upperclassmen years. By this point in the show, it really seems like Rory has only met, like, five people while at Yale? This won’t happen to you. Like at all. I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll be popular, but it’s actually impossible not to find yourself with at least 50 new snapchat friends by the end of your first day at Yale. And I cannot emphasize this in a more serious and passionate manner when I say, nobody — especially not a college man — will ever buy you an unlimited amount of coffee from a coffee cart (which do not exist on campus anyways, so buy a Keurig) for a day to apologize for cheating on you like Logan Huntzberger does for Rory. Honestly, this was the most fictional aspect of the show and if you think you will find your Logan here … go back to your Jess at home. You will be much better off. Also, there was no Hat Day (a day where you can wear the most outrageous hat in public and not be questioned for it since it’s a senior tradition) when Rory graduated from Yale. This is possibly more important than the graduation ceremony itself. And why is it that Rory seems to never actually interact with the city of New Haven unless she is at her apartment? Yale is right in the middle of the city so don’t think Yale is some removed society away from New Haven. New Haven is the backbone of Yale.
The last and possibly most unforgivable thing the show tries to push as factual is that Branford College is the best residential college on campus. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not when Davenport exists.
While there are many aspects of Yale in “Gilmore Girls” that just don’t ring true, there are some aspects that the show gets right. You just may end up rooming with your frenemy from private school for all four years. Crazier things have happened. You will meet people who are both pre-med and studying political science as if it’s nothing. You will get too stressed out from classes and have to drop one for the first time ever. You will contemplate dropping out while taking a final. You will probably hit rock bottom because you’ve just entered adulthood and never realized just how far down you could go. You will realize you have no idea what you want to do with your life when you’re expected to enter the real world in full force. But you’re not alone, and if you’re ever in doubt, you can always take comfort in knowing that you’re probably doing better than Rory was in the revival series.