and then there were two · feminists · pop culture

and then there were two: pt. 1

i’ve been hooked on the mindy project since the pilot.

my affinity for a strong, single female lead goes all the way back to the early 2000’s with the debut of the cw’s {before that, the wb’s} gilmore girls. lorelai gilmore, the lead character, is a single mother who gave birth to a bouncing baby girl at 16. she abandons her high-society, east coast, classy-as-hell parents, richard and emily, and makes it on her own by working her way up from a hotel maid to owning her own inn in the later seasons.

lorelai is flawed in many ways {matt hates her!}. she can be selfish and stubborn. she is often irrational, especially when it comes to richard and emily, and she frequently makes poor, poor choices when it comes to men {rip her engagement to max medina}.

but, she’s a basic badass. she doesn’t take a dime from her parents until she’s desperate for her daughter rory’s tuition to a fancy private school that will all but guarantee her acceptance into harvard. she makes the ultimate sacrifice and lets her parents back into her life by promising friday night dinners in hartford for as long as rory’s tuition loan is outstanding.

for all her flaws, lorelai is tenacious, ambitious, witty, smart, and most of all, incredibly human. she has moments of extreme crisis and makes the best decision she can with the options presented to her.

i’ve always really looked up to her. loved her. channeled my ‘inner lorelai’ before days when i needed to be unafraid.

now, let’s talk about mindy lahiri.

from day one of meeting mindy, i identified with her. not because i am an unrealistically wealthy, indian, ob/gyn living in new york, but because she is unapologetically fearless.

she lives her life exactly how she wants and the only guiding light she uses is the behavior of celebrities. she is obsessed with pop culture and bear claws are her favorite food. she has no idea what’s going on with her finances {she once opens a credit card in her boyfriend’s name because her credit is bad} and she makes friends with a cocaine-addicted investment banker to help her manage her money.

she’s a hot mess, but in a glamorous way that’s weirdly empowering to twenty and thirty- something single women. she is unabashed and doesn’t apologize for her behavior. she never pretends to diet and constantly talked about how exercise is the devil. she’s a size 12 and “eats cereal out of wine glass.” 

i’m not going to claim that mindy is my role model {that’s what elizabeth mccord from madame secretary is for} but she is definitely my spirit animal. she’s been in my life for a few years now and her crushing of social norms has inspired me to live my own truth more fully.

but here’s where i get hung up with mindy: she’s single.

she has many relationships and now has a darling little baby with a grumpy man she’s no longer dating {don’t get me started on the mindy-danny stay at home mom story line, another post for another day}. she can’t make a relationship work.

now, let’s circle back to lorelai. she is also single, and the end of the series is a bit ambiguous as to the fate of she and luke {that’s not a spoiler, if you haven’t gotten to the end of gilmore girls, you live under a rock}.

hmmm, so. neither mindy, nor lorelai, are capable of being in long-term, committed coupleships, according to the screen writers. but….why? what is it about two of my favorite {theoretical} women makes them unable to keep a dude around?

matt thinks it’s that in general, they are bad people {especially mindy}. but, i disagree. mindy has a good intentions and her heart is always in the right place. {even if that place is a little misguided}.

i suspect it’s their inability and refusal to conform to social norms {case-in-point, mindy is always talking about how much she sweats, it’s hysterical} and act the way our culture thinks they should. i feel like we’re telling women: mindy is great! she is strong and beautiful and unafraid, but she can’t be those things and also be married. the same goes for lorelai.

so when i first started dating matt, my inner mindy was locked away, kind of. we were friends for a while before things turned romantic, so he knew i was a valley girl who worshipped brunch and athleisure wear. but for a long time, i was afraid to be outrageous or say what i really thought because of the crushing weight of societal expectations {and those related to mormon culture; now THAT’S a separate post}.

my friend had a chalkboard in her apartment with check boxes next to:

-single

-taken

-building my empire

that got me thinking: why can’t i be taken and building my empire? I don’t get it. matt supports this building of an empire {hey, more money for him right?}, so, is the problem me? have i somehow changed and become un-mindy like?

is this what women mean when they talking about ‘having it all?’ i thought that meant your nanny watched your kids, cooked, AND did the dishes…?

as i’ve been thinking these things through, i’ve decided to do a series on the blog about what it’s like to go identify with single women like mindy and lorelai to suddenly thinking you have to be alicia florrick overnight. like, where are all the married, young, fabulous, child-free, ambitious, j crew-wearing, brunch-having, soul cycle addicts? where’s their show?

i want to explore what that means for my identity, my faith, my relationships, my finances, my family, and my heart.

so, i started here. with mindy. and lorelai. stay tuned for part two.

xoxo,

cait

 

 

 

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