(Above: “I can’t remember if I took out my tampon before I put the new one in.” “Mom…”)
THANK YOU Amy Sherman-Palladino for giving me these amazing characters I like to pretend I am exactly like. Also, trigger warning for dumb-asses who can’t read about periods. Copper Boom!
For a show that revolves completely around women, you think that there would be talk about the one shitty thing all women can unite over. Periods. Code Red. Aunt Flo. That time of the month. Sharkweek baby (and I’m not talking about the Discovery Channel segment.)
But in the entire seven seasons that make up Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls, a one hour dramedy that takes place in the fictional town of Stars Hollow and follows the lives of “freakishly close” mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore (the protagonists of this wonderfully fast-talking show) never talk about bleeding from their vaginas. In all 153 episodes never a joke or reference has been made from or about the Gilmore Girls needing a tampon or craving even crappier food than they normally eat, all because of those weirdly specific monthly troubles every female has.
And it’s a damn shame because Gilmore Girls (and Sherman-Palladino with her no-nonsense blunt bad-assery attitude) would be just the type of show to rightfully address this.
Originally airing on the WB and in its final season the CW, Gilmore Girls does not equate modesty with womanhood. It does not pander to a certain audience that believes womanhood must be discreetly discussed. Gilmore Girls never shies away from virginity, sex, birth, and even death all involving women characters who have different experiences and opinions on these issues. For a show that has been described as truly feminist on a network which to my knowledge is not crazy controlling about any topic regarding a female’s body, it is strange then that there is never even one throw-away line about periods.
Nope, periods are never mentioned amid other female bodily discussions in this show. Nor are they brought up as a plot device or simply as a way of life. Gilmore Girls may get credit for being feminist and voicing “the real,” yet the reality of periods is not presented in this series (with hardly a credible reason for its elimination, unless we are supposed to believe that the WB or CW did not ‘ok’ a “surfing the crimson wave” reference.)
In this case, the case of mentioning Lorelai and Rory’s periods, the benefits would undoubtedly outweigh the cons, as the cons would probably only result in losing the seventeen male viewers the show originally had (I’m of course kidding but in reality if a man is already watching Gilmore Girls I doubt he will be disgusted by the mere mention of a menstrual cycle.)
The first reason for talking about it? The entertainment on pure face value.
When I am bored, watching TV, captivated by a particularly annoying Kotex commercial, I wonder what the Gilmore Girls would talk about if they were, at that moment, right next to me eating mac and cheese. Would Lorelai, as Lorelai always does bust out the line “Are we really supposed to believe that it’s blue? What man out there said ‘hey all the red food coloring got used for Evil Dead so let’s just sprinkle in a few drops of water?’” Or maybe we would get a quip from Rory herself, walking out of the bathroom we only see two times in the entire series (for those Gilmore Girls fanatics out there I’ve narrowed it down to when Paris borrows Lorelei’s clothes for a date with Tristan,when Rory is crying over douche-bag Logan, and when a fish is swimming around in the tub – if there are other times please dispute me but not about the fact that I called Logan an asshole.) She (Rory) would be mumbling to herself, towel in hand, “do you ever think the girl in Psycho didn’t actually die and it was just a really bad time of the month?”
Can you imagine, as I frequently do, Lorelai taking over Luke’s apartment with her decorations and collection of must-have CDs, but also occupying his bathroom with Tampax boxes? Can you imagine her walking through Doose’s Market trying to describe in detail the ins and outs of all things period to her backwards baseseball cap wearing diner-owner? Or perhaps interaction about periods would mostly be with Rory who would be unable to decide what device to use in an episode opening – all the while Lorelai creating voices for said tampon and pad, both fighting each other about who can catch the most blood. My god, do we not all want to know her opinions on the DivaCup come Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life? I cannot be the only one hoping for that specific niche of comedic genius!
All humor aside, the best thing about Gilmore Girls is the different opinions we have via intellectual, charming, and witty women. What would occur when Lorelai and Rory talk about their periods is the immediate understanding of the series as a whole, which is that the show does not cater to the male demographic as most network television programs do; the normal monthly occurrence of a period in virtually any woman of a certain age is not going to be ignored because it might make some ignorant people “uncomfortable.”
Sure TV programs, since their origin, have held entire episodes regarding the issue of a woman getting her period, including one of my favorite episodes of The Cosby Show “The Infantry Has Landed (And They’ve Fallen Off The Roof)” where Rudy Huxtable gets her period while at school and is sent home to join her mother, who is excited to discuss Rudy’s changing body and celebrate with her in a “woman’s day.” But all instances of comedy (a few jokes about pads being the sizes of mattresses) is glossed over with an important message. The important message is that a period is something that might be a “curse” but it is also special. It signifies that you are now about to enter a different part of your life and one day, if you choose, you will have the option of having children. It is a vital lesson to learn for any young girl entering puberty that this particular show covered tastefully.
But Gilmore Girls, as it hopefully does elsewhere in other areas of the series, would be able to shed a funnier truth on “parting the red sea” (give me a break here I am running out of euphemisms), serving as a new narrative for women at a different point in their lives who are able to not only realize what a period means to growing up but also what it means to their daily existence (such as dating, going on vacation, or even wearing white pants.) If Gilmore Girls is a show that both mothers and daughters bond over watching together how can this not be something that would realistically come up? And isn’t Gilmore Girls almost doing us a disservice by not talking about how special a period can be but also, more importantly, how annoying it can be too? And how bonds of mother and daughter may even be strained by the awkwardness of this inevitable talk (AKA Emily Gilmore totally gave her maid a book to give to Lorelai about what she could expect from her cycle.)
Of course I was not in the writer’s room (although if Netflix does continue this revival, I am here half-finished spec in hand.) Again, perhaps potential period jokes were censored. However I have a bit of a hard time believing that if Sherman-Palladino could manage to get jokes about slaves and prostitution on the air this would not be any more difficult. Is the answer for the question of why there is no talk about periods simply that Sherman-Palladino did not deem it necessary or did simply not want it?
If it indeed was the latter would it not be better to have a humorous bit not made for a laugh track or even for the simplicity of grossing a guy out, but as a way for woman to bond over shitty days and stained underwear? Or even as stated before, different women’s opinions on say what they do to take away cramps? I would even settle for the alienating opinion of “it’s not that bad if you have sex on it” by Miss Patty. This is a show that talks openly and candidly about sex and the pill (in its first season mind you) but the only mention we get of a period is Lorelai’s lack of possibly having one and wondering whether she may be pregnant due to the fact she is craving an apple (yes, an apple) after her and Luke have drunken unprotected sex.
Perhaps this can all be answered with a viewpoint from one of my very good friends: the Gilmore Girls do not simply ever have their period. They are aliens sent to us with their gorgeous eyes, carousel of hot men, Rolodex of pop-culture references, and their status as rulers of the town of Stars Hollow all without ever worrying about going up to another woman and asking them discreetly to check their jeans on a particularly heavy day.
Lorelai Gilmore has never stained a pair of white pants. Just when I couldn’t love/hate you more. DAMN YOU LORELAI.
*Once again I give all of my respect to Sherman-Palladino and look forward to her next creation. On another note, I do not in any way condone or brush off Bill Cosby and his sexual assaults on women. I am simply referencing an episode of The Cosby Show.