Jess is not a mess
Martha Reilly | Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Nobody won the Powerball lottery on Feb. 10, but I hit the jackpot that day when Milo Ventimiglia announced his plans to star in the revival of “Gilmore Girls.”
He will resume his role as the infamous Jess Mariano, best remembered for his impulsive decisions, witty repartee and leather jacket. Many “Gilmore Girls” viewers detest Jess, citing the reckless behavior and rude attitude he demonstrates throughout seasons two and three — not revealing his high school drop-out status to his sweet Uncle Luke, running away from Stars Hollow without even bidding his loyal girlfriend farewell, returning months later and expressing his irrevocable love for Rory, only to peace out yet again.
The initial presentation of Jess as a bad boy severely contrasts with the promising first glimpses fans see of main character Rory’s other love interests, Dean Forester and Logan Huntzberger. For this reason, some viewers immediately develop unfavorable opinions of Jess. So even when he undergoes major character progression between seasons four and six, viewers fail to recognize him as Rory’s perfect match. Dean and Logan, on the other hand, evolve backwards, starting off as dreamy and reliable boyfriends but ending up as a cheater and a demanding ultimatum-issuer, respectively.
Rory and Jess share an intellectual connection that her other relationships do not even come close to matching, and he believes in her potential and sincerely wants her to pursue her dreams. Upon discovering that, in his absence, Rory has dropped out of Yale, moved in with her grandparents and joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, Jess confronts her about this uncharacteristic behavior, motivating her to return to school. He reacts angrily to these changes in her life because he values her ability to excel and wants to help her rediscover her aspirations, for he knows her so well.
Meanwhile, Logan takes advantage of her vulnerable state, sitting idly by as his once ambitious girlfriend forgoes almost all of her passions and even convincing her to act crazily and steal a boat with him. Not only does Logan not empower Rory like Jess does, but he also clearly does not know her as well, for he thinks she would enjoy being proposed to at a graduation party in front of her grandparents.
While Logan encounters legal trouble and Dean acts unfaithfully to his wife, Jess manages to turn his life around, publishing the book he always dreamed of. He even admits to Rory that he could not have accomplished this goal without her, reinforcing that she plays an integral role in his life even after their breakup.
Ventimiglia’s appearance in the upcoming episodes of the show will hopefully reinforce Rory and Jess’s status as soul mates, but if not, I will rest assured in my knowledge that where Rory leads, Jess is meant to follow.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.