Friday, April 10, 2009

Unconventional family uses sharp wit to get by

Gilmore Girls ran from October 2000 to May 2007 on the WB. It is usually described as a family-marketed "dramedy" (dramatic comedy) and is known for the peppy wit and sassy humor maintained by each character and in every episode as perhaps the main force that kept audiences coming back. As a somewhat obsessive fan of the show myself, I feel its tag line, "Life is short; talk fast," couldn't be more accurate.
The show centers around an unconventional (to say the least) mother-daughter relationship. Its treatment of mother-daughter related issues, paired with our recent discussions of idealogies that come through in media texts, has caused me to ponder in what ways the show may be offering more than just comedy.

As evidenced in this clip from the pilot episode, independent 30-something Lorelai and her 16-year-old bookish daughter Rory do not get through problems by means of typical parent-child conventions. Many times throughout the show's run Lorelai reminds Rory that they are "friends first, mother and daughter second." This being the case we get to see them fight through their differences, chat about boys like they were sisters, and continually have each other's backs when dealing with the wealthy, traditionally minded grandparents who consistently hope to turn their lives more conventional.
It is interesting, though, that beneath the hip, boisterous and banter-filled dynamics of this relationship there lies a struggle against the problems inherent in facing life without that parent-child structure. The pair sometimes do reach an impasse, at which point a heated argument usually ensues that leads to Lorelai putting her foot down and demanding to be respected in her role as mother. Maybe this is done to reassure the audience that while it's cool and refreshing to see a parent and child relate to each other as buddies, we are still craving the stability of the norm that is parental authority in order to create order in situations.
My question is, why the disconnect here? Everything we've been studying lately is pointing me toward the explanation that sometimes, no matter how much a media text wants to be progressive, revolutionary or just plain different from the norm, the fact that they are working within social constructs to begin with keeps them from making progressive strides beneath the surface level.

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