The Gilmore Girls revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, debuted on Netflix in November 2016, and it was cute and fun and didn’t do much to satisfy fans’ appetite for clean character resolutions. The revival was written just like the original TV show was—for better and for worse. Better, because Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino stuffed the four 90-minute episodes with pop culture references and emotional moments galore—basically, the reasons why we love this show so much. But it wasn’t all great: They kept in the same type of culturally insensitive “jokes” that permeated the show during its seven-year run.
Don’t know what we’re talking about? It’s understandable: You probably watched Gilmore Girls as a child or teen, and its problematic elements flew over your head. That, or you didn’t even notice them given the racist, homophobic, and fat-shaming TV landscape of the early 2000s. This was the norm, which is exactly why the humor in Friends rings much differently for me now than it did in high school. The same goes for Gilmore Girls. When you look back on the show with the “woke” culture of 2017, it makes the blind spots glaringly apparent. These 10 offenses are particularly cringeworthy.
The way Mrs. Kim, Lane’s mother, is portrayed
At the start of Gilmore Girls, the Palladinos reduced Mrs. Kim to an incredibly strict “Tiger Mom” stereotype who speaks with a heavy accent. She evolves slightly throughout the show, but not enough to think the showrunners gave her as much thought as they did to Rory, Lorelai, or even Christopher.
And Michel too, for that matter
Gilmore Girls had a real opportunity to showcase a complex, diverse gay character with Michel. Instead, they keep him in the closet and riddle his dialogue with stereotypes and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy–brand snark. They do finally confirm his sexuality in the revival—a step forward, at least—but that was basically it. We never meet his partner, and his story plays second fiddle to Lorelai’s and Rory’s champagne problems, as per usual.
When Lorelai shames Sookie for not being in a relationship (???)
Just one of many times Lorelai was the worst to Sookie.
Emily’s interchangeable maids
With few deviations, Emily’s maids in Gilmore Girls are women of color, non-English speakers, and—as the show portrays them—interchangeable. Emily’s rude treatment (and subsequent firing) of her many maids became a point of “humor” on the show. But there isn’t anything funny about a spoiled white person disposing of women working in her home like they aren’t human beings.
When Rory fat-shames a ballerina in her Yale Daily News article
Rory confirms that she is a terrible journalist in a season-four episode of Gilmore Girls titled “Die, Jerk.” The “jerk” in question is Rory, who spends the majority of her ballet review for the Yale Daily News fat-shaming one of the dancers instead of, ya know, critiquing the actual performance. (If you recall, she calls this ballerina a “hippo” and points out the “roll of fat around her bra strap.” Yikes.) “Jerk” is putting it lightly, to be honest.
The fact that Paris gets rejected from Harvard, but Rory gets in
Just like Blair Waldorf deserved to get into Yale more than the ridiculous Serena van der Woodsen did, the hardworking Paris deserved to get into Harvard way more than Rory. Where is the justice? It especially feels problematic when you remember that Paris doesn’t get in after she loses her virginity. Rory, however, is still a virgin—or as Lorelai puts it, “the good kid”—so this somehow makes her more deserving?
When Emily essentially says that fat people shouldn’t go to parties
During the season-five episode titled “The Party’s Over,” Emily is agonizing over how far apart to place the rows of chairs in her living room for a soirée. She wants them far apart enough so that people can “navigate around them comfortably,” but not too far. When Emily’s workers push the chairs a little wider than her liking, she barks, “Good lord! If someone needs that much room to get around a chair, they shouldn’t be at a party. They should be on a treadmill.” Yes, Emily literally suggested that plus-size people shouldn’t go to parties because they need to be exercising. I’m done.
When Luke says Kirk’s bag is “gay”
Because calling inanimate objects “gay” was still a thing in the early 2000s. Hilary Duff put an end to that once and for all with this PSA.
The time Lorelai implies that two people of the same sex kissing would look “funny”
I believe the exact quote was, “We need to leave the country and have extensive plastic surgery. And sex changes! Both of us! So, you know, we can kiss and not look funny.” Ha. Gay people are so weird!
And perhaps the worst of all: this line
BECAUSE PEOPLE SAID THIS WORD BACK THEN AND DIDN’T BLINK AN EYE. Wow.
For Gilmore Girls scenes that aren’t cringe-inducing, check out this story: 70 Incredible Moments From the Emotional Rollercoaster That Was the Gilmore Girls Revival