Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls

We all love Gilmore Girls, right? It’s sweet, peppy, and oh so innocent. Remember Rory’s first kiss? Jess knocking down a snowman? Lorelai sewing costumes for the school play? Yes, the WB/CW really had us believing that the streets of Stars Hollow were made of cotton candy and the Gilmore Girls lived in a house of Pop-Tarts and Brillo Pads.   I regret to tell you, it just isn’t so. Once you removed the WB/CW network filter and peel away the peppy “la-la-la-la” music, there is a seedy underbelly to Stars Hollow, particularly at the Gilmore House. It’s so twisted that not even a Rory Curtain could hide it. So come with me as I decipher all of the clues and break down the truth behind the cold, dark Stars Hollow as it really was.

In the Beginning, Lorelai Ran From Hartford

Fans, let us journey back in time to the very beginning. The year was 1985. 17 year-old Lorelai Gilmore took her baby daughter and made a hasty retreat from the safety, shelter, and sustenance of her parents’ house out on to the mean streets of Hartford and beyond.

Why? It wasn’t because she lived a life of abuse, poverty, violence, and drugs. That wasn’t Lorelai’s world. She was a wealthy socialite who was unsatisfied with her parents’ smothering and planning. Their tedious efforts to help and support her. So, with baby in tow, she disappeared without notice, other than a scrap of paper.

This is no typical story of someone who is stable and thinking. In fact, from the start, one can imagine that any mom fleeing into the night with no plan or protection–given her circumstances–is likely highly disturbed. Maybe even dangerous to herself and her baby.

We can surmise Lorelai must have taken a bus with her baby daughter, a small amount of luggage, a bag of diapers, and maybe a car seat (I hope)? And landed where? She did not turn to a friend or family member. Lorelai turned up in a random town with no connections.

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Mia Welcomes Them to Stars Hollow

Mia and Emily once had a conversation about how Mia should have behaved when Lorelai showed up at her door. Emily took a swipe insisting that Mia should’ve sent her back home. And Emily is right. There is no way that a penniless teen (save for some diamond earrings in the pockets of her designer jeans) with a baby doesn’t get turned around and pointed back toward her mansion.

Did Lorelai refuse loudly and madly? Did she threaten to go sleep in the street if no one would take her in? And for that matter, did she even really show up at the Inn looking for a job? Or did Mia find her sitting on the streets? Sleeping on a park bench with her baby?

Keep in mind, even the dirtiest hotel rooms must gouge at the cash supply after a while. And diapers aren’t free. Any credit cards she had would’ve pointed to her location, and Richard and Emily would’ve come after her. In fact, wouldn’t it be remarkable if Emily didn’t have the police looking for them, knowing Emily’s nature as we do?

Maybe Mia was more of a saint than we realize. Maybe she was covering for a very disturbed teen girl.

Consider also, isn’t it a bit funny that Rory later discovered a newspaper article about Lorelai arriving in town? It’s a little peculiar that such a headline would exist…unless this person was sensational. Maybe even alarming? Perhaps the article described the hubbub of a baby sleeping on a park bench, and how authorities tried to intervene until guardian angel Mia Bass stepped in.

Potting Shed Baby

Fortune smiled on the disturbed runaway when Mia offered to shelter her in the inn’s potting shed. The potting shed.

GG Emily in Wonderland Potting Shed 1

A potting shed with a toilet and a tub? But no interior doors? Was it heated? Connecticut has brutal winters. Where did they move the tools and herbicides? One year-old Rory was housed in an actual shed. There was no kitchen to keep her food. No crib.

Think about this, since there is only a curtain separating the tub and toilet, every time the girls had to dookie, they did it in the same room as each other. Like prison.

So there were the two Gilmore Girls. Lorelai working as many shifts as she can to afford diapers and bath towels and doctor’s copays and fertilizer poison antidote and a shower curtain to put around the gardener’s toilet. And little Rory being babysat by maids or being carted around to various inn rooms with the little shampoos and rolls of toilet paper. It’s like an Ann Geddes nightmare.

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During the evenings in the shed, Lorelai planned a vivid and privileged collegiate future for her toddling child–indeed, putting her on the shiny-hair conveyor belt–from infancy, covering the walls of their shed home with Harvard paraphernalia. Or did she?

Harvard crap is expensive, Boston was far away, and there was no online shopping back then. Still, teenaged Lorelai, with her very warped set of priorities and obsession with subverting her parents’ standards exorcised her trauma on her baby daughter.

Can you picture 19 year-old Lorelai had too much Kahlua and started using Sharpie markers to write “HARVARD” all over the potting shed walls. “Take that, dad!” “BULLDOGS SUCK!”

It’s nice that Rory remembers the scribbles as “pennants” and “posters”.

The years passed and our ladies lived in the potting shed until Lorelai bought the Crap Shack in 1995. Rory was eleven. That means through age 10 (and 26), Lorelai and Rory slept together. Dookied together. Shivered together. Clearly the teachers at Stars Hollow Elementary never caught on, or they would’ve had to call CPS. Mandatory reporting. I think most child welfare officers would like to see a kitchen and private toilet. And heat. Maybe they did visit. Maybe they knew all about Lorelai Gilmore and she has a very thick file with their department.

Sookie SAINT James

Think back to the pilot episode where we meet the feisty single mom and her pouty-but-sweet teenaged daughter. Immediately we see that something isn’t quite right here. A young mother hangs out at a local diner, hitting on men in trade for coffee and….who knows what else? Then in comes the teenage Rory who has to fend off her mother’s admirers in order to sit down and have a diner meal/snack with her mother, which includes coffee. Ah, a nutritious staple in any teenage girl’s life. Good thing Lorelai didn’t have a pack-a-day habit, or Rory would have been asking that creepy out-of-towner for a light.

This points to the darker side of Rory’s upbringing that makes me wonder what Lorelai packed in Rory’s lunches throughout her younger school years. Did the teachers just find Pop-Tarts and Red Vines? Astronaut ice cream? Cold pizza? A thermos of coffee?

Maybe that’s how Sookie got so close to the girls. The young chef, new to the Inn, saw a girl going to school each day with a paper sack full of candy and pizza and, with a sigh and heavy heart, she started to quietly pack a special lunch just for Rory. Crinkle-cut carrot sticks, pears fresh from Jackson’s farm, and sandwiches on wholegrain bread.

Mia may have noticed that some food was being sneaked out the back door this way, but she knew how unstable Lorelai was, and was grateful to have a staff that cared so much about the little shed ragamuffin. If Mia was Rory’s surrogate grandmother, maybe Sookie was an angel who stepped in to be Rory’s surrogate mom.

After all, it was always Sookie who cooked for Rory’s school bake sales. Sookie who got concert tickets for Rory and Lorelai. Sookie took pictures at Rory’s graduation for a scrapbook or album. Sookie was part of the search team when Rory disappeared. Sookie worked with Luke to organize the surprise college graduation party (and handed all the credit to Luke). Sookie took them in to shield them from termites.

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Sookie is the prat falling guardian angel who watches over our girls, and has from the start.

Mia and Sookie couldn’t measure and trim every corner of the Gilmore life, though. And so we move on to the story of Rory Gilmore’s birthday parties–legendary affairs around Stars Hollow, we are told. That is quite a dubious honor, though, isn’t it? What kind of legend is whispered about a child’s fete, exactly?

Allegedly-traumatized socialite Lorelai wanted to make her daughter’s parties everything that she always wanted and never got. Fiestas, clowns, space travel. The only question is whether or not Rory actually ever enjoyed herself. She has great memories, but they’re also quite warped. After all, it’s usually traumatizing to a young girl to see a party clown get arrested. What the hell did that clown do anyway?

Let’s run down the parties we know about:

6th Birthday (1990) – “Astronaut Birthday”, Lorelai, Rory, and Lane put on garbage bags, drank Tang, and ate freeze-dried ice cream. I’m a little surprised Mrs. Kim let her first grader go to a hotel for a garbage bag party.

7th Birthday (1991) – “Fiesta Birthday”, Rory and Lane swung at a piñata while 23 year-old Lorelai kicked back and drank a bucket of margaritas and ate tacos. Rory and Lane continued to munch on leftover freeze-dried ice cream from the previous year.

8th Birthday (1992) – “Teddy Bear Tea Party”, which the cops shut down and resulted in a clown being arrested. I’m guessing it was more like Rory and Lane were sent to the Inn lawn with their teddies (though 8 year-olds are maybe a bit old for teddies, but okay) to eat cookies while Lorelai entertained a friend in the shed, who was arrested on site for god knows what reason, and when Rory asked who that was, Lorelai said, “….the clown”.

14th Birthday (1998) – “Scavenger Hunt”, where Rory and Lane ended up in Taylor’s house at 11pm stealing stuff out of his fridge. Breaking and entering. Classic.

16th Birthday (2000) – “House Party”, in which Lorelai stocks up on cake and silly string, and then invites only adults from around town. Lane is the only other teenager. The party actually looked pretty sedate, despite the boa. Huh. Who ARE all those people?

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These party choices are somewhat puzzling. I understand “astronaut birthday”–even if the space program wasn’t exactly all the rage in 1990. But, cool. On the other hand, there’s no way Rory was jonesing for a sombrero and taquitos at age 7. Sure, pinatas are pretty cool for kids, and a handful of rugrats will even eat tacos. But, really? The most fun thing about fiestas is tequila. And more tequila. It makes the mariachi music fun. We all know this. And 23 year-old Lorelai knew it, too. 23 with a sombrero, a margarita, a seven year-old swinging a bat, and some tacos. That sounds about right.

Then came the “teddy bear tea party”–the one with the clown. First of all, anyone who knows kids gets that the teddy bear theme would really only work for kids aged about two to six. After that, they’re going to feel like it’s a baby’s party. So Lorelai seemed to not really understand age-appropriate themes in a convincing way. Plus, why was there a clown at a teddy bear tea party? Something about 1992 seems really, really wrong.

Even Lorelai admits that she pushed herself and her daughter to subvert the notions of dignified cocktail parties, but how far did it go? And at what cost to Rory?

Lorelai’s Men

It was season one when we first started to hear about Lorelai’s strict rules about dating around Rory. She even referred to herself as a nun once. But don’t believe her lies. Lorelai has left a long trail of men behind her, and poor Rory has watched it all, starting with the birthday clown.

After all, did you really think that when Rory came home after the ice storm that Mr. Medina was innocently asleep and covered on the couch? Or was he sprawled with his nekkid ass hanging out and Lorelai still in her underwear?

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And did you really believe that Rachel packed and left town just because Lorelai was threading a belt on Luke’s pants? Or was it because Rachel actually stepped into Luke’s apartment and found them in bed together? Nice try, CW. It was a “belt”. Yes. Sure. That seems tawdry and shocking.

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And you couldn’t have believed that Paris merely caught Lorelai and Max kissing in the classroom? Right? It’s sweet that the CW wants us to accept the height of scandal at a prep school is some kissing. I’m sorry to report that there is a 100% chance he was doing her against the blackboard, pants around his ankles. Why do you think Emily was so angry?

And the there was the balcony with Christopher. It was a nice night outdoors (apparently), so did you think that Lorelai and Christopher humping wouldn’t have been heard through every open window in the Gilmore house? Rory just sitting in the kitchen, nibbling a plate of cold food and pretending she couldn’t here her mother’s moans and other thudding noises.

I’m not here to judge Lorelai’s sexual appetite, but instead question what the real story was. We must keep peeling back the Rory curtain to know how much Rory saw and learned from Mommie Dearest. This might explain why Rory went on to cheat with a married man. Then cheat with an engaged man. Why she slept with a wookie out of the blue. Why she boned Logan in the middle of her grandparents’ wedding party (it wasn’t just kissing, folks. Everyone was far too angry and embarrassed for just kissing.) Why she then boned Logan in her first floor dorm room, leaving the window wide open for all to watch (and talk about the next day around campus). Why she secretly texted naughty pictures of herself to Marty, but then acted like she didn’t remember doing it.

Psycho Rory, Qu’est Que C’est?

Don’t think that none of this mattered and Rory grew up just fine. If you’ve ever read my list ranking all of the Gilmore Girls episodes, then you already know that I have uncovered a slightly psychotic and sinister side to Rory. She has a dark, twisted soul that delights in the misery of others and does not handle rejection well at all. So many victims lie in Evil Rory’s wake.

Rejection #1: Dean Dumps Rory for Not Loving Him

Things start out fairly calm and innocent after Rory loses Dean. She rearranges some furniture, buys some garden weasels, and rummages through some trash. Weird, but not scary. Not yet. Then she starts to spiral.

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First she goes after Emily. Rory fluttered her doe eyes and begged her grandmother to come to Kim’s Antiques and eat at Teriyaki Joe’s. If murderous Korean antiques dealers and food poisoning weren’t enough, Rory takes Emily to the potting shed! No 16 year-old can be that clueless. She had to know that she was crushing Emily’s soul, displaying the evidence of her perilous upbringing. I suspect that after Emily bolted from the shed, Rory probably rubbed her palms back and forth in evil delight. They’ll pay. They’ll all pay. No one dumps Rory Gilmore.

Rejection #2: Max Didn’t Become Rory’s Stepdad

Max may not have intentionally slighted Rory, but her future and home were thrown into chaos. And Rory likes order.

So the faculty interview of Max Medina was the perfect way to make him pay. Instead of making the interview about him, Rory not-so-casually starts blurting out a long and endearing story about Lorelai attacking a clown over cotton candy, reminding him of the woman he lost and his crushed life. And we watch Max’s heart break right in front of us. That was cold shit, Evil Rory.

Rejection #3: A Yale Professor Tells Rory She Needs to Drop a Class

Freshman Rory can’t imagine why people don’t coo over her and pet her like they do in Stars Hollow. So when a Yale professor reasonably tells her to trim down her class load, Rory decides it’s time for a reckoning and pulls out her revenge journal. Sliding a finger down the page, she lands on the perfect victim. Lindsay Fucking Lister.

Rory runs straight to the arms of her married ex-boyfriend to sob about how unfair Yale is. I bet after crying and snotting all over Dean she went back to her dorm, pulled out her revenge journal and drew a giant black Sharpie “x” through a picture of Lindsay while giggling and spritzing on some of Lindsay’s perfume.

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Rejection #4: Dean Didn’t Appreciate Her “Life and Death Brigade” Article

So he had to go. Rory wasn’t sure just how to make him pay for his indifference and rotted sandwiches…until she found a pack of drunk boys to flirt with her. Yes. Rich, handsome Yale men, dressed up in suits that cost more than Dean’s pickup truck. All she had to do was sit tight in the pool house and wait. Just a little longer. Let Dean squirm. Worry. Sweat. And just when he was good and oily, hunched with worry, out she marched with a flock of beaus surrounding her. If you turn up the volume all the way, I think you can even hear her whisper “Their penises are bigger toooooooo….”.

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Rejections On and On

The best part about Rory’s rejection psychosis is that I needn’t describe them all for you. Once you’ve seen Rory’s dark side you can pick them out for yourselves. Do you see it now?

Rory gets rejected at her newspaper internship, so she convinces her boyfriend to steal a yacht, quits Yale, and runs away from her mother’s house.

Rory’s audition article for the Yale Daily News is rejected, so she publishes an ugly tirade against an innocent ballerina, fat shaming her into bulimia and dropping out of school.

Rory’s mom doesn’t tell her about getting married, so she writes a vicious article about her boyfriend’s colleagues and peers, leaving it on his pillow the next morning. Logan loses countless contacts, has to apologize to the Tortuga guy, and tells everyone that his girlfriend was off her meds, quietly hushing the whole thing up with money.

Olivia and Lucy also criticize the brutal assault on Logan’s colleagues, so Rory starts sending Marty beaver pics again, and then outs him to Lucy as a stalker and liar. Everyone will pay. Rory is the best writer ever, and they must all learn that.

Logan sleeps with bridesmaids, so Rory cuts his parachute cords just before he heads out.

It goes on and on.

How Deep Does It Go?

I’m sorry to have planted the seeds of darkness in your brain, for now when you watch Gilmore Girls, you will begin to see so many scenes differently–each episode becoming curiouser and darker.

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Did Rory and Jess really get into a car wreck because they were eating ice cream cones? Com’on, CW, that’s too sweet even for The Brady Bunch. Could the reality have been that  Jess stole a 6-pack of beer out of Luke’s fridge? Re-watch and consider it carefully: They treat ice cream cones as if they’re so naughty. Then they drive around with their “cones” and the conversation turns from giddy freedom to insightful and blunt. In cookie dough veritas? Then the crash. Did Jess really get packed off because of an ice cream cone and an ill-timed raccoon crossing? That town seems really strict about belts and ice cream cones.

Oh, and what else was in Rory’s Dean-letter that Lindsay found? How many times did she scrawl the word “twat”? Or “I’ll be watching you”? How many clumps of Lindsay’s hair did she fold into it? And photos of Lindsay sleeping? Don’t tell me the Lister women weren’t ready to throw punches…unless they were frightened of the Gilmores.

During the first Life and Death Brigade event at the campsite, just how much cocaine was blowing around? Did part of Logan’s speech about living a sheltered life include persuading Rory to take a bump before climbing the ladder?

This I submit to you for your consideration.

Paris is right, the Rory Curtain is real and the townsfolk of Stars Hollow (not to mention the network) are terrified for you to look. If you wish to pull the curtain tight and never peek behind it again, I don’t blame you. It’s okay to turn up the la-la-la music and dream of yellow daisies. But that doesn’t mean your journey to Stars Hollow won’t be full of shadows and demons, with Miss Patty’s intermediate dance kids blowing glitter in your eyes the entire way.

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