thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

How to be Awesome like Lane Kim (from “Gilmore Girls”)

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

Phoebe B.

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Since Gilmore Girls’ revival on Netflix a few months ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Stars Hollow, the virtually all-white small New England town in which the show is set. There are many things about Gilmore Girls that I find refreshing and delightful, quick and witty dialogue and the focus on friendships between women being among my top two favorite things. Gilmore Girls undoubtedly passes the Bechdel Test, as women talk with one another about everything from love to work to friendships and well beyond. But it is also a show about whiteness and class conflict, despite the fact that it frequently seems to attempt to skirt these issues.

Lane Kim stands out as one of two recurring character of color (the other being Michele at the inn), replete with a stereotypical Asian Tiger mom. Her mother’s strict rules contrast with Lorelai Gilmore’s free-spirited parenting style, seemingly evoking a sensibility along raced lines.

But while Lane rebels against her restrictive Korean, Christian mother, she is also a fully-fledged, fully badass character in her own right. In a sea of whiteness—both on Gilmore Girls and on television more generally—Lane’s greatness ought to be appreciated.

So, here is how to be awesome like Lane Kim:

  • Be a major music buff, but, not just in one genre. You’ve got to love all kinds of music, from Coltrane to Broadway show tunes, Belle and Sebastian and Metallica. In order to do this, you need to hide all your CDs under secret floorboards in your bedroom. After immersing yourself in music for years, you’ll be able to identify any song or artist based on the faintest sound streaming through the phone line.
  • Once you know all there is to know about music, convince the local music instrument store owner to let you practice super softly on a borrowed drum kit. Then, once you’ve mastered the drums, place a hilarious ad in the newspaper wherein you list ALL of your major influences. Given the breadth of your music knowledge and that you’ll likely have to pay per word, prepare for this ad to be costly.

  • Develop good layering tactics. You never know when you might need to wear your church shirt—a T-shirt for Jesus—to choir practice or Bible study, so always come prepared with a the appropriate gear beneath your death metal shirt.
  • Be a fantastic friend, even if your BFF doesn’t always treat you so well. Rory isn’t the greatest friend to Lane—for example, when Rory falls for her first boyfriend Dean, she puts their friendship on the back burner. Even so, Lane forgives her; later on she even agrees to be Rory’s date to a post-breakup party. Ultimately Lane is always there for Rory, but that doesn’t stop her from being her own and seriously awesome character.
  • Join a band with an adorable front man (Seth from The OC!), with whom you begin to fall madly in love with after the dissolution of your first almost-relationship with a nice Korean guy who plans to become a doctor (your mother’s true dream for you). Sometimes you might even just repetitively call the guy you like and hang up just to make sure he is home and not out on a date. Never speak to him if he answers, though, because then he could know you like him. (Luckily for us and Lane, Adam Brody’s Dave Rygalski does realize that Lane likes him—and the feeling is mutual, as he reveals when he shows up to a dance marathon just to see her.)
  • Be creative and risk-taking. Dye your hair purple, even if you immediately dye it back again. Try out cheerleading! Join a band! Unlike Rory, who has conformed to other people’s idea of who she is, Lane constructs her own identity outside the confines of her mother’s rigid parenting. (Though I think Mrs. Kim is pretty awesome and ultimately cares deeply for her daughter). And while Lane maintains her sense of independence, she is also proud of who she is and her heritage. She is independent, whip-smart, passionate and creative.

So if you are looking for a role model this week, I point you to the wonderful Lane Kim. It’s not that she is a perfect representation or even that she—and by extension her family—aren’t sometimes represented along alternating stereotypical and color-blind lines. But despite her disappointing storylines as the series enters its later seasons, she is a great character. Lane stands out on Gilmore Girls because she is a character that resists easy stereotyping or categorization. Among the many marvelous women characters on the show, she is one of my favorites, and often the one I most identify with.

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  1. Ah, this blog speaks to my own teen-soap loving soul. But seriously, Lane IS one of the best female characters on TV. She owns her quirks and is a strong and empowered woman… plus she’s funny as hell.

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