This Is The Real Reason Gilmore Girls Is Still So White

Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Fans of the popular series Gilmore Girls were buzzing with excitement over the weekend with the release of Netflix’s original revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. For many, that excitement transformed into disappointment as fans were less than pleased with the body shaming, the last four words, and the new show’s insistence on being hip. And then there was the diversity issue.

Let’s not pull any punches: Gilmore Girls has always been super white. The show is set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, and over the course of its seven seasons there were only a handful of people of color. Early promo for GG: AYITL seemed to suggest that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was going to address this issue in the reboot. But alas, she didn't. It raises the question: Why is Gilmore Girls still so white?

I did some research. According to Wikipedia, the fictional town of Stars Hollow came together with inspiration from three different towns in Connecticut: Wallingford, Essex, and Washington. I did some digging into the census demographics for all three of these towns in 2000, when the show aired, and in 2014, which is the latest available set of data. I can summarize my findings pretty succinctly. In 2000, all three of the towns that inspired the setting for Gilmore Girls were over 94% white. In 2016, Essex and Washington were still more than 94% white, while Wallingford was over 90% white. So statistically speaking, it doesn’t actually get much whiter than Stars Hollow.

Much to the chagrin of critics, a diverse set of characters in GG: AYITL would have been pretty unrealistic, even more than a decade later. But is TV supposed to tell it like it is or represent something aspirational? When writers and producers are bringing their on-screen brainchildren to life, should they reflect the truth of our racially divided country, or should they paint the just picture we want to see, given they want to see it, too? That there are communities of white people able to exist without much interaction with people of color is a reality of our racialized America (even if you live in a place like Brooklyn. Yes, I’m talking to you, Lena Dunham). But the possibilities are endless in fictional television, so why not take advantage of them?
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