‘Gilmore Girls’: Why Lorelai’s ‘Best Friends First’ Parenting Style Did Not Actually Work With Rory

In Gilmore Girls, Lorelai prides herself on her close relationship with her daughter Rory. Meanwhile, throughout the show’s seven-season run and in the show’s revival series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Lorelai has a complicated relationship with her own mother, Emily.

Lorelai often asserts that she is not like Emily, especially when it comes to her parenting style. However, when one takes a closer look at the show, Lorelai and Emily actually share quite a few similarities.

Gilmore Girls
Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore and Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore | Mitchell Haddad/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images)

How the ‘Gilmore Girls’ characters are different parents

In Season 2 Episode 16 of Gilmore Girls, “There’s the Rub,” Lorelai and Emily go to a spa together for a weekend. Emily wants to spend the weekend bonding, as she wants to have a closer relationship with Lorelai. When things begin to go wrong, Emily laments that she wants what Lorelai and Rory have.

“Rory and I are best friends, mom. We’re best friends first and mother and daughter second. And you and I are mother and daughter always,” Lorelai tells Emily.

On a surface level, Lorelai is much more easy-going than Emily. She and Rory share a love of junk food, movies, and coffee. Lorelai tries to encourage Rory to come to her with any problems, as she wants to have open communication with her daughter. Meanwhile, Emily was a distant and controlling mother, and Lorelai rebelled against this when she was younger.

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Lorelai hates pulling the ‘mom card’ in ‘Gilmore Girls’

It’s pretty clear that Lorelai and Emily’s relationship is dysfunctional. Though at times during the show, Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is dysfunctional too.

Because Lorelai has made her relationship with Rory to be “best friends first,” she rarely feels the need to pull “the mom card” or act as an authority figure. When she does choose to, Rory sometimes lashes out in response because she is not used to having that kind of relationship with her mom.

One Reddit user wrote, “Lorelai had a terrible time with the boundaries between Best Friend and Mom. I understand that she’s able to be laid back so often because she doesn’t have to worry about Rory, but when Rory does need some motherly guidance, she’s absolutely terrible about it!”

Lorelai can be controlling too

Sometimes, Lorelai is actually quite similar to Emily. Whenever Rory does something Lorelai would not do, Lorelai either becomes controlling or distances herself.

For years, Rory dreamed of attending Harvard, an idea that Lorelai encouraged since Rory was young. When Rory is in high school, she applies to multiple colleges, something she was required to do by her school. Lorelai finds out Rory applied to Yale to have other options, and she has a breakdown at dinner because she thinks Rory is being manipulated by Emily and Richard.

Later on, when Rory decides she needs a break from school and to drop out of Yale, Lorelai goes behind Rory’s back to Emily and Richard in an attempt to convince Rory to stay in school. Rory then goes to Emily and Richard on her own, and they decide to help Rory instead of listening to Lorelai’s plan. This leads to Lorelai and Rory having a falling out that lasted for several months.

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“But the SECOND Rory shows signs of being dissimilar to Lorelai, Lorelai becomes Emily. Overly critical, mean, withdraws affection, and cuts Rory off,” wrote a Reddit user. “Rory makes a choice Lorelai doesn’t like, so Lorelai becomes distant and then goes behind Rory’s back to Emily and Richard in an attempt to manipulate the situation.”

She is worried about Rory distancing herself

Through high school, Rory was pretty shy, and she did not like disappointing people. Whenever she did do something wrong, she usually punished herself and clearly felt guilty.

When she goes to college, any time Lorelai puts her foot down or calls Rory out for her behavior, a rift grows between them. Because of this, Lorelai and Rory’s relationship in the later seasons of Gilmore Girls is more distant. Lorelai is scared to act as a mom in fear of driving Rory away, but she also is not able to give her opinion as a “best friend.”