Therapy Has Ruined The Men Of ‘Gilmore Girls’ For Me

As my self-worth goes up, Dean’s hotness levels go down.

Woman standing slightly annoyed in front of the men of Gilmore girls Dean Drobot | Canva, Gilmore Girls | Netflix

EMDR therapy has improved my life in countless ways — so much so that I rarely shut up about it. But there’s one thing this intensive form of trauma therapy has not improved; in fact, it has ruined it altogether. I can no longer watch early-2000s romance shows without feeling my newfound dignity shrivel up and weep.

Granted, pop media rarely ages well. Viewers have called out Friends for being anti-intellectualist and homophobic. Sex and the City romanticized a toxic, condescending man-child, and Twilight had that weird imprinting-on-a-CGI-newborn thing. But Gilmore Girls — my blessed Gilmore Girls. That’s safe, right? 


After all, Gilmore Girls was surprisingly progressive for its time. I’m not saying it didn’t have issues, but for a Y2K show about two white women in Connecticut, let’s be real — it could’ve been a lot worse. A 16-year-old has a daughter out of wedlock, names her after herself, and raises her as a single mother. Empowering! Its snappy dialogue and ample junk food portray women with brains, personalities, and appetites. Groundbreaking! With a plus-size friend, an implied LGBTQIA+ Black French co-worker, and a Korean bestie with her own storyline, the diversity wasn’t stellar, but it was there — more than what can be said about most early-2000s TV. We’ll take it!


Overall, it’s a feminist show about the relationships between mothers, daughters, and friends which explains why new generations are still watching it today. I’ve seen the show four times now. I didn’t have cable as a kid, so I was stuck watching Pappyland and The Big Comfy Couch until well into puberty. By the time I finally saw Gilmore Girls, I was in my early 20s. Then I binged it again in my mid-20s, and again shortly before turning 30.

Even though I hadn’t grown up with it, Gilmore Girls felt nostalgic — the perfect show to throw on while you’re sipping a hot latte on a chilly autumn Sunday — but upon my fourth rewatch earlier this year, I realized that something had shifted: The guys in Rory Gilmore’s life no longer made me swoon.

It seemed the more I focused on my mental health, the more my self-esteem grew. And the more my self-esteem grew, the less I enjoyed the unhinged patriarchal tropes that women are supposed to find ‘romantic.’ There is a direct relationship between how much therapy I’ve had and how many red flags I would award each of these men if I had a comprehensive 10-flag rating system — like the one I developed solely for this article.


RELATED: 'Wife Swap' Is The Nostalgic, Cringey Capsule Of Y2K Culture I Can't Stop Watching

Dean Forester

Opinions before therapy: Tall, hot name, literate, new kid trope, swoopy hair parted in the middle — what more could a gal want?

Rating after therapy: 5/10 red flags


Reasons for rating: The possessiveness isn’t cute, the cheating isn’t romantic, and psychologically manipulating your girlfriend into acting like a Donna Reed-style housewife would be borderline incel behavior if incels could get girlfriends (but at least he’s got a good work ethic).

Jess Mariano

Opinions before therapy: Intellectual, quick-witted, and reads feminist fiction, yet still has that whole bad-boy thing going for him.

Rating after therapy: 6/10 red flags


Reasons for rating: Sarcastic little brat with no respect for anyone or anything. For how articulate he’s supposed to be, this dude communicates roughly as well as a ball-gagged Furby with a dying battery.

RELATED: The Rise Of Women Who Love Fictional Men

Tristin Dugray

Opinions before therapy: Honestly, I found him immature even before therapy.


Rating after therapy: 7/10 red flags

Reasons for rating: Total Chad, which is fitting, granted the actor’s name is, in fact, Chad. Sulky, harasses girls to get attention, and can’t think of a more original insult than “Virgin Mary.” (They’re 15-year-old millennials at a prep school; statistically speaking, they’re probably all virgins.)

Logan Huntzberger

Opinions before therapy: A discount Chad Michael Murray replacement, but he’s cute, an enigma, and the heir to a business empire, right?


Rating after therapy: 10/10 red flags

Reasons for rating: I’m relatively positive that if Logan was a real person, he could secure a malignant narcissist diagnosis in one psychotherapy session. Exhibit A: This video of him gaslighting Rory for six-and-a-half minutes straight. The defense rests, your honor.

Christopher Hayden

Opinions before therapy: If his storyline wasn’t so irritating, I’d probably recommend that he visit his daughter more than once a season. But nice motorcycle, I guess.


Rating after therapy: 9/10 red flags

Reasons for rating: Unreliable, irresponsible, impulsive, and a terrible father who only shows up for his kid when it’s convenient for him. Also, I cannot look past the fact that the actor (David Sutcliffe) is now a men’s “life coach” who genuinely believes, and I quote, “Women shouldn’t vote.”

RELATED: 15 Relationship Red Flags You Should Never, Ever Ignore

Luke Danes

Opinions before therapy: Kind of grumpy and old, but overall a thoughtful, hard-working guy who shows he cares. Luke can hang.


Rating after therapy: 1 red flag

Reasons for rating: The breastfeeding rant was a bit much, the homophobic jokes aged like milk, and he could probably benefit from some anger management classes, but in the grand scheme of things, Luke can still hang.

So there you have it, folks. Therapy is one heck of a drug — one that’ll turn your perception of romance upside-down and make you realize that possessiveness is not hot. Snark is not the same thing as wit. Enigmas usually make for abysmal partners. (I would know; I used to be one.)


We’ve also learned that manipulating your girlfriend with word salad is not a sign of intellect but rather an underlying mental illness, and no matter how hard we love the bad boy, he’s very unlikely to miraculously transform into a good man.

So what is hot? The mediocre-looking guy in the backward hat who owns a business. Who empowers, shows up for, and protects the women in his life. Who definitely has his flaws, but also has enough self-awareness to apologize when he’s wrong, and then he tries to do better.

Am I thrilled that my go-to comfort show has been tainted with feminist awareness? No, but it’s the price I’m willing to pay for personal growth and a healthy relationship of my own. 

Gilmore Girls: Where you lead, I will still follow — but don’t you dare lead me to a relationships seminar. Or one of David Sutcliffe’s life-coaching events.


RELATED: 10 Timeless Love Lessons From Gilmore Girls

Maria Cassano is a writer, editor, and journalist whose work has appeared on NBC, Bustle, CNN, The Daily Beast, Food & Wine, and Allure, among others.