- Gilmore Girls -Jess & Paris Are The 'Gilmore Girls' Friendship That Should've Been
What I'd like to discuss today is the art of verbal sparring. And not just any retorts hurled back and forth, but the 80 miles per hour, word-perfect language that made Gilmore Girls a household model for mother-daughter banter.
There are two characters who deserved more screen time to debate literary titans and mask their insecurities with their intellectual prowess. Yes, I'm referring to the underrated, underserved friendship that should have been between Paris Geller and Jess Mariano.
This odd coupling was teased in Season 2, Episode 16, "There's the Rub," where they exchange barbs over Luke's Diner takeout, as evidenced in this stellar Tik Tok clip. But my rub in their character arcs is that a single scene in all seven seasons (plus the revival) was an injustice. Here's why Paris and Jess are the lost friendship that should have been.
Need more convincing? OK, no problem...
Underneath It All, They're So Similar
We may forget because they project such hardened and abrasive exteriors to the outside world, but Jess and Paris both come from broken homes that shaped their tremulous social skills and anxieties. As you may recall, that involves projecting an armor of aggression and astute pop culture references while harboring a fear of abandonment and lack of self-confidence underneath.
Jess' parents shipped him off to live with Luke and he barely has a relationship with his father. Paris' parents thrust her into the middle of their divorce, with her dad asking her to help divvy up his and her mom's finances and making her feel out of place in her own home as a teen.
This all feeds into why Paris pushes Rory and views her as a challenger when they first meet at Chilton, as Rory invades that safe space of school where Paris could thrive on the stability of getting As. In the same vein, it's why Jess runs away from Rory (literally across the country) in their big breakup before her graduation when they get too close. Like Paris, he's been let down by those he trusts before. To top it off, he doesn't even necessarily have the safe physical space of excelling in school to fall back on like Paris does, which is why he has to build one before growing into the man who writes novels and develops a solid head on his shoulders.
A Foundation Of Mutual Respect
If we had seen more scenes with them together, even if they at least started as third-wheeling hangs with Rory, they both would have come to recognize that they rely on literature, knowledge, and information as currency and power. It's their defense mechanisms before anyone can crack their shells to reveal the fragile nudie turtles within.
You can tell that they know they have met an equal throughout the interaction at Rory's. Paris even heeds Jess' advice to add hot sauce to his innovative salt and pepper dip. "Should I?" she asks. "I think it's wise," Jess replies. And when do we ever see either of them really take in the opinion of others? Well, except for Rory (at times).
A Fierce Loyalty and Care for Rory
At the heart of the matter, the idea that Jess and Paris would spark a friendship is tied to what they both see in Rory. Jess and Paris appreciate Rory's gentle sweetness, ambition, and scholarship, as her attributes complemented and deepened their own growth. And because she was the person that initially inspired them to be more vulnerable than they had with other people in their lives, they both are fiercely protective and loyal to Rory, bolstering her when she doubts herself. Like when Paris memorably reams Logan's playboy tomfoolery in college or when Jess snaps at Rory for dropping out of Yale.
This lost friendship is still the one that gets me nearly 20 years after they first came together around that dinner table in Season 2. Think about it, if their friendship had extended into their college years and post-grad, we could have seen Paris call Jess up for reassurance that she was presiding over Neanderthals at the Yale Daily News who wanted to oust her or he could have sent her folios of his first book while he was drafting it out since he could have trusted her blunt notes. Maybe in the next Gilmore Girls reboot they'll have their time to shine.
Image: Netflix screenshots