Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Fall 10-15-2018


Ahlgren, McKenna. The Rise and Fall of Gilmore Girls' Feminist Legacy. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. October 2018.


Copyright McKenna Ahlgren 2018.


This thesis explores the feminist legacy that the television series Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016) built during its original airtime and how its later revival diminished that legacy. Gilmore Girls’ main characters are three generations of women within the Gilmore family, providing a unique opportunity to analyze their feminist identities and characterizations relative to different iterations of feminism. This paper examines how the youngest Gilmore, Rory, is influenced by her mother’s and grandmother’s embodiments of feminism. Their expressions of femininity and sexuality, their approaches to motherhood, and their behaviors in their romantic relationships throughout the series correlate with the predominate feminism of their generations, allowing young Rory to become a modernized melting pot of historical feminism.

Gilmore Girls’ revival aired in 2016, almost ten years after its final televised season, aging the characters along with it. However, its feminism remains stuck in its original form, unable to grow or change beyond late 2000s’ feminism. Critiques of the revival range from its lack of intersectionality to body-shaming to avoidance of sexual education/health topics. This lack of growth undermines Gilmore Girls’ original feminist legacy.