In my last post I wrote about the Myers-Briggs types of Gilmore Girls characters, as seen in the original series. I have quite a lot to say about Lorelai and Rory.
Lorelai: ESFJ. She’s very social, focused on relationships, stubborn, and has an opinion about everything. She cares very much about the appearance of things, music, and pop culture. She takes things at face value and doesn’t dig deeper to find hidden meanings. She doesn’t have abstract ideas or much desire for learning and self development.
As a J, Lorelai is very inflexible and always wants other people to change or bend to her expectations. She’s constantly hounding Luke with suggestions about how to change his diner, his wardrobe, or his life, and peppering everyone around her with suggestions for things they should change. However, she never really changes anything about herself. She’s a very static character throughout the series, and though she makes big decisions, none of them result in big changes in her perspective. She gets engaged to Max, but then breaks up with him without ever giving much explanation. She refuses to ever move out of her house for any reason. She hates change, and that’s why I kind of hate her character, because a person who thinks that everyone else should change but is not interested in any change in her own self is a very closed-minded person.
Because she’s not open-minded, she is easily sent into a rant when things don’t go her way. She doesn’t stop to consider possibilities. She’s not a very good listener; whenever someone else is talking, she seems more preoccupied with getting ready to jump in with her next quip than in actually listening. And, characteristic for a J, she is armed with a never-ending tirade of stories and quips that she tells in their entirety even when it’s clear the listener doesn’t care.
Lorelai assumes that everyone likes her, and she assumes that everyone cares to hear what she has to say. She assumes she’s always right, and is less open than most to the possibility that she could be wrong. She reacts extremely defensively whenever someone doesn’t agree with her or suggests that her way may not be the best way.
For a J, Lorelai also has a lot of P tendencies. She’s disorganized, indecisive, a procrastinator, abandons projects before they start, and sometimes makes spur-of-the-moment decisions. When it comes to everyday decision-making, she’s portrayed as the spontaneous one and Rory is the planner. However, I feel that her overall inflexibility and lack of openness to life’s possibilities makes her a J.
Hospitality is the perfect career field for Lorelai. She’s great at overseeing details, managing and inspiring people, and getting things done that need to be done. She loves to talk to people, and talk about them when they’re out of earshot. So it’s not surprising that she successfully opens her own inn, or that she worked her way up from being a hotel maid as a teenage single mom. She has the kind of personality that always gets noticed, and that helps her rise to the top and become the star of Stars Hollow.
Lorelai is not rational at all and makes decisions based on feelings, both her own gut feelings and the feelings of people around her. Rory says “I want to go to Harvard” and Lorelai’s response is “Great, I’ll send you to an elite prep school we can’t afford.” Not “let’s move into a slightly better school district so you can be more challenged” or “let’s find some extra classes for you to take, or find an internship or mentor for you, or get you into a summer program, or learn about some other universities that might be a good fit for your interests.” For a woman who worked her way up from nothing to earn her A.A. and run a successful business, I would think she’d want to teach Rory that the name of the university you attend is not a barometer of success. However, her parenting philosophy is not “Learn from my life experiences and hard-earned wisdom,” but “Friends first, mother and daughter second” and “Whatever Rory wants, Rory can have.”
She claims that she wants nothing to do with her parents’ way of life, yet encouraging her daughter to aspire to a prestigious Ivy League school solely because of its name is just the sort of thing her parents would do. Encouraging Rory’s dream of Harvard while adamantly standing against her family’s Yale legacy is a perfect example of how unimaginative Lorelai is, and why she’s an SJ. Despite her rebellious adolescence, she really is a traditionalist in many ways.
Something that makes no sense to me is how financially irresponsible Lorelai is. She doesn’t have $15,000 in order to save her house from termite damage or enough credit to get a loan for it, yet she eats out for every meal, wastes a lot of food, and often goes shopping for fun. So she has no savings, and her parents end up bailing her out whenever she needs money, which she claims to hate but makes no big steps to break away from. What exactly was her Plan A for paying for Rory’s tuition before going to her parents for Plan B?
I know that it’s a TV show and it wouldn’t be interesting if Lorelai wasn’t at Luke’s diner every day. But the show could have redeemed itself by just having someone, anyone, say to Lorelai, “Hey, you should really build up an emergency fund to deal with things like termites or being unemployed. If you stop going out to eat and going impulse shopping, you could save thousands of dollars a year.” It would have been perfectly in character for Paris or Kirk to say something like that, and perfectly in character for Lorelei to ignore it.
Rory: ISFJ? INTJ? ISTJ? Oh, who cares anyway. Rory is the worst fictional character ever. She’s impossible to type because her personality is impossible in real life. She is a great example of writers who try so hard to make a character universally likable that they become repulsively unrelatable. It seems like they wanted Rory to embody all the good qualities they could think of, so they made a list of every desirable trait and threw them at the wall, and everything stuck. News flash to writers everywhere: there is no such thing as a person or personality that is universally liked.
The only thing I’m sure of is that she’s an Introvert (though not a very strong one, given how much she talks and spends time with other people) and a Thinker. Her interest in abstruse books, intellectual topics and abstract ideas would seem to indicate she’s an NT, yet she’s also extremely knowledgeable about and interested in popular culture and music. She frequently engages in light, witty banter laced with pop culture references with not only her mom and close friends, but also with acquaintances and among the crowd at town meetings. Kirk, the NT, also engages in public banter, but unlike his unexpectedly revealing musings and uncomfortable truths, Rory’s banter is very surface-level, mainstream, and meant for her own entertainment rather than offering insight, just like her mother’s. Rory is shy but not awkward, and not socially clueless enough to be an NT. Moreover, she just doesn’t seem that interested in the intellectual topics she reads about, and she doesn’t spend time hanging out with other intellectuals or talking about abstract ideas outside of school, which leads me to conclude she’s a Sensor.
The writers clearly want Rory to be the quintessential good girl, who is empathetic to everyone, a do-gooder who can never say no because she cares too much about everyone. Rory is overly concerned with telling the truth and sparing others’ feelings, but I don’t believe she’s a Feeler because, although she’s a good friend and always perfectly nice to everyone, she doesn’t seek out friends or go out of her way to make someone feel valued. She is often reluctant to help people out, and only does so because she’s too timid to say no.
Rory becomes Paris’ best friend because nobody else can stand to be around Paris. But Rory was always a pretty bad friend to Paris. Even though she reassures her, gives her advice and boosts her confidence, I never got the sense that Rory’s heart was in it. The friendship was never that important to her, and she just doesn’t seem to care that much about Paris’ feelings or her life. Rory is simply someone who is friendly and helpful to others because she thinks it’s the right thing to do, not because she truly cares deeply about them.
The number of people Rory cares deeply about is really quite small: her mom, her grandparents, her boyfriend, and Lane, who is her sole friend throughout high school and college. It’s surprising to me that she doesn’t seek to make more close friends, although she has a large circle of acquaintances. Yet despite all that, all the guys fall in love with her, all the girls envy her, and everyone loves her.
There are so many things that I find ridiculous about Rory. She’s had her heart set on going to Harvard since she was a little kid for no discernible reason. She had never visited Harvard until her junior year of high school and didn’t seem to know anything about the university. She’s wanted to be a journalist since forever (unwavering commitment to a goal indicates she’s a Judger rather than a Perceiver) but doesn’t seem to have a real reason for that either. Before going to college, she never showed much interest in other people outside of her immediate circle, which one would think is a characteristic of a good journalist.
After applying to Harvard, Rory realizes that oh crap, she should probably apply to some backup schools, so she pulls out of thin air the two most prestigious Ivy League names she can think of, Yale and Princeton, but never even visits Princeton. Finally, she makes her decision of which university to attend without having spoken to any students, recent alumni, or professors in her intended major (which doesn’t actually exist at either Harvard or Yale).
Rory must be a J because she is a perfectionist and has impeccable time-management skills. She completes an insane amount of schoolwork and gets straight A’s, while also being deeply involved in a mountain of other activities, not the least of which is sitting around for hours re-watching old movies with her mother and eating at the diner for every meal. It’s just not possible to have time for everything she does, especially once she becomes the editor of the Yale Daily News, and only a Judger would have such organization and efficiency at getting things done. Yet she also has the P traits of being unable to make decisions and wanting to stay open to new possibilities.
Rory is modest to a fault. Nobody in real life is that modest. When she gets her SAT scores, she doesn’t show any sign of jubilation even in private, but her immediate reaction is “Why is my excellent verbal score ever so slightly lower than my excellent math score?” I never trust anyone who seems that modest, and it draws more attention than boastfulness. She would be much more understandable, much more human, if she reveled a little in her accomplishments rather than completely downplaying them.
I really hope that Rory and especially Lorelai undergo some kind of character development in the revival show. They had big changes in their lives and important decisions, but they never really changed the way they think or perceive themselves. It would be much more interesting to see big changes in their internal landscape. But internal personal epiphanies that don’t result in dramatic outward actions are difficult to show on TV, so I don’t expect this to happen.
Lorelai is intended to be the woman that everyone loves and wants to be best friends with, and Rory the woman that everyone wishes they could be. That’s why I dislike them so much; they are the antithesis of me. Of all the characters on the show, I identify the most with Kirk. He’s awkward, he jolts people out of their orderly lives and mundane thoughts, and he makes everyone uncomfortable. He doesn’t care if he’s liked, he just keeps on being himself.
To me, Gilmore Girls is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the way different Myers-Briggs types are judged by society. Some personality types are loved, some are envied, some are accepted, and some are dismissed. When in reality, all personality types are natural and normal.