Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life debuted on Netflix last month to a great deal of fanfare. For freelancers, the show raised more questions than it answered. Even with her work being printed in high paying publications such as The New Yorker, Salon, and The Atlantic, it wouldn't be enough to sustain Rory for months to years on end. Plus, there's her apartment in Brooklyn, and those trips to London. How is she making it work? Is it even possible? Where is the money coming from? Logan? Her mother? It it an inheritance from her grandfather? Or is Rory just really good with money, in which case, why isn't she a financial reporter? We've decided to take a look at what exactly is going on with Rory's finances to try to get to the bottom of it.
When we meet Rory again in A Year in the Life, she is a full-time freelancer (one can assume, the show is pretty light on details about this). One of the earliest scenes is Rory "running for the trees" when an editor from The Atlantic calls her. We're not going to linger over whether or not Rory is a good journalist — that subject has been thoroughly covered, and it's an answer we don't really want to hear — we're specifically interested in how Rory is running her business.
The piece in The Atlantic gets killed, which means that it's possible Rory would have gotten a kill fee. The kill fee would have been some portion of the negotiated rate for the piece. According to whopayswriters.com, The Atlantic pays an average of $.10/word. Even with a 2,500 word feature, this would have amounted to $250.
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Next, let's cover the publications where we know Rory's work was published. She was pulling some big names, like The New Yorker and Slate. The highest recorded amount on whopayswriters.com for The New Yorker is $.20/word. Again, let's say she has around 2,500 words ("Talk of the Town" pieces are often shorter, but we like Rory and we want her to succeed). That's $500. Slate, again, pays $.20. That's another $500.
For a while she takes over the Stars Hollow Gazette, which she says pays next to nothing. For arguments sake (and because we want to give Rory any solid we can), let's assume she made $1,000 in her time there.
That brings Rory's income to a grand total of $1,750 (leaving out the possible kill fee from The Atlantic).
This is where it gets complicated. Buckle up.
Rory rents an apartment in Brooklyn. No roommates are mentioned. The average monthly rent of a studio in Brooklyn is $2,286.30. Yikes, that's more than the total income Rory made on the show.
Then there are all those flights to and from London (and there were many). You can get round trip tickets starting around $621. Cab fair and other travel expenses would easily add another $100 to each trip.
That brings Rory's spending to at least $3,007.30 in one month— though she does eventually give up her Brooklyn apartment. That puts her at a deficit of $1,257.30 in a single month, and we didn't even track her coffee spending.
So Where is the Money Coming From?
Good question. We will probably never know the answer for sure. Amy Sherman-Palladino either decided it wasn't relevant… or she just didn't think about it, so we're on our own with this mystery.
Was Logan footing the bill? At first glance, this seems like a likely option. He is after all loaded, and Rory is flying to London to visit him. However, Rory's pride has never allowed for Logan to pay for everything. When he offers to give her an unoccupied family home to use so she can write a book, she refuses. That's out.
Is she racking up credit card debt? That's an option, but if Rory were putting all of this on her credit cards, it would have become a major plot point. Pass.
Does she have a secret trust fund? We know what you're thinking. If Rory had a secret trust fund, that also should have been a plot point. We agree. It should have been, but it's also the most likely answer. We know that Rory's grandparents were always trying to give her money. We know that Richard passed. It is next to impossible that he would not have left something for Rory in his will (and for that matter Lorelei, but that's another story for another day). This money would have been enough to give Rory the freedom to follow her dreams — and to pass up perfectly good editorial positions— while she finding her way.
The reason Rory never seems to worry about money is that unlike many of us, Rory doesn't have to worry about money. Mystery solved.
Here's hoping that Gilmore returns with another special next year. We'll be crossing our fingers for Gilmore Girls: An Audit. Show us those receipts!