OITNB’s Daya & Aleida and GG’s Rory & Lorelai are two sides of the same coin


The Gilmore girls and Litchfield’s resident mother-daughter duo have a lot more in common than you’d expect.

As I have written previously, I am a fan of Orange Is the New Black‘s fifth season. So much so that after finishing it, I decided to re-watch the entire Netflix prison dramedy. Something struck me during my binge–and I’m honestly surprised it never occurred to me before: there are many parallels between OITNB‘s Daya and Aleida Diaz (Dascha Polanco, Elizabeth Rodriguez) and Gilmore Girls‘ Rory and Lorelai Gilmore (Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham). In fact, both mother-daughter duos are really just two sides of the same coin.

Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Image courtesy of Saeed Adyani/Netflix.

A young single mom

The reason Rory and Lorelai are best friends is laid out in the first ep of Gilmore Girls: Lorelai had Rory when she was just 16, still a kid herself. The closeness in age–and the fact that Lorelai raised Rory on her own–translates to an “us against the world” friendship between the mother and daughter.

We don’t know the exact age difference between Daya and Aleida, but the series suggests that Aleida was also quite young when she became a mother. The Diazes are definitely on the same maturity level. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they like each other very much. Aleida is jealous of Daya and considers her a romantic rival.

Daya is disgusted by her mother’s life–five kids by several men, greed and anger, a drug-dealing boyfriend working in their home–but finds herself making the exact same choices as Aleida.

In both cases, the similarity in age leads to an unusual closeness between the mother and her daughter. The difference is that Rory wants to be like Lorelai–and Daya is horrified at the prospect of turning into Aleida.

Relationships without personal boundaries

To be fair, it’s hard to keep a healthy distance from anyone when you’re in prison. But judging from OITNB‘s flashbacks, Aleida would still be forcing herself into her daughter’s business even if they weren’t locked up together. Aleida has bestowed pearls of (unsolicited) wisdom on everything from remedying constipation to stealing another person’s boyfriend to using your sexuality for personal and material gain. Daya never wants the advice, but it still sinks in.

Lorelai and Rory are also a bit too comfortable discussing each other’s personal lives. Lorelai openly asks an adult Rory about her birth control methods. At the age of 16, Rory knows that if her mother returns from a date before midnight that a) Lorelai didn’t sleep with the dude and b) won’t be seeing him again.

The Gilmore girls go on double dates with each other and their boyfriends, Rory promises to tell her mother when she’s ready to have sex, and Rory hooks up with a Wookiee and immediately updates Lorelai with the news.

There’s nothing too embarrassing or private for these mothers and daughters to talk about. Sometimes it’s sweet that they know each other so well but, mostly it’s a little creepy.

Domineering mother, passive daughter

You might think that Lorelai is too nice and charming to be domineering. Aleida is definitely colder and harder than her Gilmore Girls counterpart, but Lorelai controls Rory’s life just as much as Aleida controls Daya’s.

Think of the times Lorelai fights Rory’s battles. Rory doesn’t defend herself when her affair with Dean is discovered; Lorelai does. Rory doesn’t ask Emily if Friday Night Dinner can be rescheduled on account of her birthday; Lorelai does. Rory doesn’t ask Dean out on their first date; Lorelai does (another example of their lack of boundaries!). Lorelai’s naturally extroverted personality–added to her fierce love for her daughter–ends up stunting Rory’s ability to live her own life.

Aleida does the same with Daya, and Daya’s refusal to take responsibility for herself has dire consequences. Aleida makes sure Daya doesn’t terminate her pregnancy. Aleida convinces Daya to sleep with Pornstache and frame him to save Bennett. Aleida talks Daya into giving up her baby and then reverses the decision. Daya gets pissed about all of this, but never fights back.

When Daya does finally break from her mother’s influence, it’s devastating. Going against Aleida’s advice, Daya confesses to shooting Humps, sacrifices herself for the other inmates’ demands, and heads off to max. It’s not what she deserves, but at least it’s her choice. We never see that sort of agency from Rory.

Related Story: Season 5 of OITNB is what we’ve been waiting for

With so much in common, why are we freaked out by Aleida and Daya on OITNB and charmed by Lorelai and Rory on Gilmore Girls? Disregarding the obvious (prison), it’s the harshness between the Diazes. Even though they are a young single mother and daughter just like the Gilmore girls, the playing field was never level for them. Rory and Lorelai are white, have quick access to money (thanks to Lorelai’s WASP parents), and enjoy the privilege of having mountains of support from other people. They are happy because they have no reason not to be. It’s easy to be best friends with your mom when you’re both funny, smart, kindred spirits, and small-town royalty.

Aleida was born poor and Latina, and so was Daya. They are both funny, smart, and kindred spirits but are unable to take advantage of it because money, shelter, health, and safety are never guaranteed. The Diaz women have to fight tooth and nail for them every day whether it’s in Litchfield or not.

Aleida and Daya and Rory and Lorelai are cut from the same cloth, and yet we look to Gilmore Girls as the mother-daughter gold standard. But the truth is that privilege–class, race, and circumstances–is the only thing keeping the Gilmores from being the Diazes.