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The Overdone Mother and Daughter Trope in Television

I have delightfully binged shows like Gilmore Girls and Ginny & Georgia to my heart’s content. While the stories of both shows are completely different, they do have a similar premise - the relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Both duos have their own set of struggles with Lorelai and Georgia being teen mothers while being estranged from their families, with Rory and Ginny being entitled brats who got everything they wished for. In hindsight, the mothers were doing their best to give their daughters everything they could never have for themselves. And how grateful are the daughters for the same? I think we all know.

I have delightfully binged shows like Gilmore Girls and Ginny & Georgia to my heart’s content. While the stories of both shows are completely different, they do have a similar premise - the relationship between a mother and a daughter. While "Gilmore Girls" has garnered immense popularity and a devoted fan base, it is not immune to the criticisms often associated with the Mother and Daughter Trope. Some argue that the show's portrayal of their relationship leans towards the fantastical, with the characters often exchanging witty quips and pop culture references in a way that may not accurately reflect real-life mother-daughter dynamics.

But I digress. The point I would like to highlight through this piece is the stark portrayal of the tender relationship between a mother and a daughter.

In shows like Gilmore Girls and Ginny & Georgia, we see understanding, super cool, and chill mums who support their daughters and openly talk about anything. They want to be close confidants and let their daughters know that they can come to them for anything. Lorelai and Georgia themselves grew up while parenting their daughters and navigated life alongside them. This makes them more perceptive to modern ways of the world and enables them to understand the nuances of issues troubling their teenage kids. Moreover, they were themselves considered outcasts for getting pregnant before marriage, and that too at a young age. Lorelai and Georgia learned to only stress over things that matter, unlike society’s opinion which never did anyone any good.

On the other hand, when I see movies like Lady Bird, Titanic (Rose’s personality is closely developed under her mother’s close eye), and the animated feature Brave, I see stern and tough mothers who think being vulnerable around their kids will make them weak. A particular scene in Lady Bird has stayed with me long after I slammed my laptop shut. It’s when the protagonist has a fight with her mother and the latter brings up the topic of the money she spent in raising Christine. To that effect, Christine replies, “Give me a number for how much it cost to raise me and I’m gonna get older and make a lot of money and write you a cheque for what I owe you so that I never have to speak to you again.”

That scene resonated with me on a level deeper than I could fathom. I bet every kid has heard this taunt from their parents at one point in their lives. An argument over money, throwing our life away, and over our parents sacrificing everything they had for us, their precious kids. I, for one, have definitely thought of acting this argument out and pondering over the consequences. It could definitely range from guilt-tripping me into thinking I’m thankless, or them taking the blame for my supposedly horrendous upbringing. And neither of them will lead to any fruitful solutions.

These two instances are extremes as shown in the movies and in shows. And what happens in real life, you ask? It happens somewhere between the two extremes. A thin line of reality where mothers and daughters fight every day, yet reconcile in the evening to maintain peace in their homes. While looking at the larger picture, I see women being conditioned to swallow their anger and put their feelings aside for the benefit of the household. So what does a fight look like between two women who have grown up in a world where expressing anger is taboo and yelling is out of the question? It creates an ugly scenario of cold wars and silent treatments. But I guess that just doesn’t make for very good content on the big screen.

In all honesty, it is not wise of me to compare Western content with Indian relationships because the values and principles differ widely in both scenarios. Nonetheless, the foundation of every mother-daughter relationship is usually the same, where the daughter thinks the mum doesn’t understand anything, and the mother wants everything for their kid that they never had.

A sliver of understanding, empathy, and patience can surely help the issue. So, what does a more real and honest portrayal of the mother-daughter equation look like?

I would like to see a depiction involving more honest conversations and acknowledgments of issues between the participants. The mother does not endow the daughter with a favor by birthing her and caring for her. It is her intrinsic responsibility toward the child she chose to bring into this world. Mothers should find a way to make kids understand life and its battles without keeping the “I gave birth to you” sword over their heads.

Daughters, on the other hand, should heed their mothers’ advice as they know what they are talking about and have been through similar situations. Like Lorelai knew Jess could hurt Rory, and Georgia knew what teen boys want from girls like Ginny. Had the rebellious teen daughters listened to their mothers, they could have avoided a world of pain.

I look forward to seeing more complex situations and relationships between mothers and daughters in both movies and shows. It eventually falls on writers and directors to portray those subtle nuances with their own creative flair. Though relationships like Lorelai-Rory and Georgia-Ginny are ones to look up to, we can only wish to achieve that level of understanding and openness with our mothers in reality. Mother and Daughter Trope in Television

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That is a very original take on their relationships. I felt I couldn't relate to this trope but I have come to understand it much better now. Thank you :)