*This post contains spoilers*
I may lose a lot of readers at this point because some of you may have never watched Gilmore Girls. Those of who you follow me know it’s constantly streaming on my Netflix, even if I’ve seen the episode 15,000 times. I can’t help it. It’s the one show that cheers me up, calms me down, and just simply entertains the hell out of me. Especially now that I live in Connecticut, the town of Washington Depot, which is the inspiration of Stars Hollow, is a close 40 minute drive from me. I plan to pop over for a visit there soon. Anyway, I’ve watched the show a million times, and even if you’ve never seen it, I’m sure you’ve noticed the TEAM DEAN, TEAM JESS, and TEAM LOGAN everything. It’s on mugs, t-shirts, magnets, pillows, everything. Just look on Etsy. My best friend Tierney is a major Team Dean fan, so we like to face off because I’m Team Jess, all the way. I’ve even bookmarked an Etsy mug on my computer. Team Jess followers get hated on quite a bit because let’s be real here…Jess Mariano was a total dick.
But I’m going to pull a Kanye on your asses and explain why I think Jess Mariano is the best man for Rory Gilmore, and the most complicated and underrated boyfriend on the show.
As most of you know, Jess doesn’t start off fantastic. He didn’t have that glowing grin like Dean Forrester in the first episode. He was angry, frustrated, and marched to the beat of his own drum from day one. He had quite a few reasons to be an angst-up teenager. His mother was a nut, he had no father figure, and he was being shipped off from NYC to Stars Hollow without much of a say. Naturally, he would be upset. He had a Holden Caulfield aura about him. BUT, he was well-read, intelligent, and understood Rory on a certain level that no other boyfriend had. He went along with her bits, he understood her obscure references, and he didn’t hover.
However, let’s recap the beginning of their relationship.
He was rude to Lorelai by accusing her of sleeping with his Uncle Luke. He crashed Rory’s car Dean had built for her, by accident. He takes off on several occasions without saying goodbye. He shows up late to Friday Night Dinner with Emily Gilmore with a black eye which he gets from a swan. He yells at Rory several times as a reflex to other things happening in his life. At first glance, most would say he’s the worst boyfriend Rory ever had. But why do you think he’s the best one for Rory, Jess? I’ll tell you why.
At the end of Season 5, after working for Logan’s (her most recent boyfriend) father at a newspaper, Mr. Huntzberger tells Rory she doesn’t have what it takes to be a journalist. All she has ever wanted was to be Christiane Amanpour. Out of panic desperation and reckless thinking, she steals a yacht with Logan and is arrested for grand theft boating. She decides to take a break from Yale to figure out her life, even though Lorelai deeply disagrees with the drastic decision, which then causes the nearly six month silence between mother and daughter. At this point in time, we haven’t seen or heard from Jess in over a year. But in the middle of Season 6, he makes an appearance by paying Rory a visit. This is where we see the best character development I’ve seen in a TV show and/or book yet.
He’s come all the way from Philly to tell Rory that he has written and published a short novel. He owes all of his success and accomplishments to her. He’s working for a small printing press with a few other dudes, and overall, he seems to be doing well for himself.
He has the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Logan. After observing Rory in her new environment, surrounded by D.A.R. meetings, high tea with her grandmother, her boyfriend with his expensive convertible, living with her grandparents, not speaking to her mother, and quitting Yale, Jess has it out for her. He’s the one who snaps her back into reality. He reminds her that she’s making a huge mistake and that none of this is really her. The fact that Rory goes back to Yale, finds a job, and gets back onto speaking terms with her mother, that is all done by the one and only Jess Mariano.
To some, this may not seem so obvious. It takes an episode or two after Jess yells at her that she finally turns it around. But his little lecture to her is something that others need to pay attention to because it changes the entire course of the series, no matter how brief or even irrelevant it may have seemed. Out of all three boyfriends, Jess was the one who made the most impact on her. Rory made a difference in Dean’s life by showing him books, movies, and music that he hadn’t been exposed to yet, but it’s hard to say that Dean made a big difference in her life. Logan broke her out of her shell a bit, but for the most part, she stayed the same with the exception of some reckless behavior and was the one to turn Logan’s life around. In the end, Jess was the boyfriend who simply wanted Rory to be happy and do what was best for her, whether he was with her or not.
That, my friends, is why I think Jess Mariano was by far, the best. I think these things because of the upcoming Netflix revival that I believe will be released later this year. All three ex-boyfriends will be appearing in one of the four 90 minute episodes, and it will be interesting to see what role they will play nearly ten years later.
I hope you all will be raising your Team mugs the evening of its release. I know I will!