A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Kill Me Now” and “The Deer Hunters”)

Notes

I am absolutely floored by the response to the first post, which has been simultaneously energetic and incredibly weird. I don’t assume that this will continue but it is fun while it lasts. These seasons are twenty-plus episodes long. This will devolve into a bit of a grind, probably sooner rather than later. With that in mind, I wanted to explain that I’m trying to get my posts caught up to my actual consumptive rhythm. I’m in the middle of the first season now. This means that, for a week or more, I’m going to pound out recaps. Then I’ll post as I watch.

Also, without belaboring the point – guys, I used the word “belabor” which hints at labor which hints at pregnancy I’m so clever – I don’t think Lorelai considered getting an abortion and I don’t think that this represents some failure of the show. So far, her dedication to her daughter has been obvious, both in what she does day-to-day and what we know of her past, which included leaving a very wealthy life with her infant daughter. I’d dare say she considered Rory to be her own opportunity to escape. Whether or not that pans out is up to the show.

“Kill Me Now”

At the weekly dinner that Lorelai owes her parents as payment for their loan, Rory explains that she needs to pick a sport at Chilton. Lorelai’s mother, Emily, suggests golf, and it is decided that Rory will go to the club with her grandfather that weekend. Meanwhile, Lorelai’s discomfort with her parents’s life arises after realizing that the fact that Emily and Richard cannot be troubled to learn their servants’ names.

Again, wealth. Lorelai lives in a huge house, drives a newer model Jeep, seemingly wants for nothing (except the ability to pay an entire year’s tuition with a single check) but we’re still left to accept that she’s undone by her parents relationship with their wealth, or at least, her mother’s. Emily makes it clear that the family has money. She passes on no opportunity to remind us. Richard is more disconnected from this sort of behavior, almost as if he earns the money that Emily spends. That might not hold up in the long term but that’s what is happening so far.

Then Rory and Richard go golfing. As an avid golfer, I can confirm that having characters golf is an excellent way to communicate a character’s snobbery. Golf’s relationship to wealth is ridiculous in almost every imaginable way. Which is what makes Richard’s decision to (badly) play golf in what appears to be a public park that isn’t actually a golf course all the stranger. Let’s put it this way: if you’re going to use golf to communicate your message, you have to nail it, and save for the post-round clubhouse shots, there’s nothing about the setting and location that nails it. Literally everything is comically wrong, from the equipment used to the outfits worn to the look of the course. It’s almost as if somebody went to a golf course in 1968 and said, “Well, I’m sure it’s still exactly like that.”

Rory and Richard have fun together. Richard melts at time spent with Rory, going from a stone-faced golem to an interested grandfather, especially when Rory overhears shareable gossip from the clubhouse sauna. The two also talk about travel and Richard is taken with Rory’s idea that she and her mother will backpack around Europe after she graduates, a trip that he promises to contribute to. Their relationship happens quickly and easily almost as if both were waiting for the opportunity to like one another. It is a beautiful bit of convincing writing, the worst use of golf in the history of media notwithstanding. 

Lorelai, meanwhile, is jealous. Rory almost immediately has with Richard what Lorelai never did. It burns to the point that Lorelai picks a fight with Rory that she eventually has to apologize for, something she does after her friend Sookie observes rightfully points out the jealousy.

“The Deer Hunters”

Rory is at Chilton because of her academic prowess, but she fails her first significant test, earning what is presumably the first D of her entire life. She doesn’t tell Lorelai though, who only learns of the bad grade during parent-teacher conferences. Rory redoubles her efforts academically, preparing for a huge test that will ideally earn her the standing that she seeks. Lorelai helps but both collapse in a heap studying, leading to a missed alarm, and for Rory, arriving at her test late, a violation of Chilton’s honor code. She is prevented from taking the test and rightfully loses her mind. Lorelai is summoned to the school and stands by her daughter’s outrage.

In the grand scheme of things, the conflict at Chilton is small, a fight between how things are done there and how the Gilmores would like to do them. Both Rory and Lorelai rightly balk at what is an entirely arbitrary rule, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to it. But this can be understood more broadly too. Later in the first season, there will be explosive familial conflicts about how things are supposed to be done, most specifically her teenaged pregnancy and its aftermath. Lorelai’s opposition here is the same as it has always been, two windmills forever tilting against one another.

Meanwhile, Lorelai’s best friend Sookie – played by Melissa McCarthy, in a role that never makes you think, “I’ll bet she’ll be really good at being incredibly foul-mouthed!” – is incensed after a local food critic comes up just short of praising everything she cooked for him. She suspects foul-play and she stops at nothing to suss out the problem, eventually realizing that he had wrongly paired a wine with her risotto. She finds him and offers him another serving with a correct wine. She finds peace in this.

One thing that Gilmore girls deserves outrageous praise for is its diversity of appearance. Even if both of the eponymous girls border on the ethereal, those surrounding them look like real people. Stars Hollow might be a Manic Pixie Dream Town but its inhabitants look far more familiar than many other shows can be troubled to manage. This includes McCarthy. She is a single woman, an incredibly successful chef, and a good friend. Kudos to it not yet being more than that. She is allowed to simply be.

 

 

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22 thoughts on “A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Kill Me Now” and “The Deer Hunters”)

  1. Oh man, I better start watching (we eschewed TV for Edge of Tomorrow from Redbox last night) so I can catch up. I see a GG weekend in my near future.

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    • OK, I’m 15 minutes into the first episode, and it’s… rough.

      “There are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I’d reenact before I’d consider that option.”

      Tell me it gets easier.

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      • The first episode ended OK, but the dialogue, to the extent that it can even be called that (it’s more like a series of monologues with each character throwing out lines that can be taken as responses to the other characters lines or just considered by themselves), is just sooooooo awful. The only moment I even chuckled was when the father fell asleep at dinner as the mother and daughter were arguing over a conflict that he’d exacerbated with obvious jabs at his daughter earlier in the meal, but this is such an easy trope (the clueless old father/grandfather who’s not at all interested or entertained by women’s drama) that the chuckle quickly turned into annoyance at that as well.

        Hell, I’m not even sure these are good, likeable people, at all. In Episode 1 we see Lorelai the Elder make a joke about the Menendez murders to her daughter, place her kitchen staff (and perhaps the entire inn) at risk by not firing an obviously dangerous chef because that chef is her best friend (“Ooooh, she almost set the place on fire, again. Heh… that’s so Snooky”), treat the French dude shitty (though the French dude is an ass too, because he’s French, and the French are asses, right?), make fun of the guy who works at the cafe, etc.

        I think I’ll take your advice and watch Season 2, Episode 1, and if I can’t make it through that one without throwing my shoe at the television at least 3 times, I’m going to give up.

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  2. arriving at her test late, a violation of Chilton’s honor code. …an entirely arbitrary rule

    Is it? If the point of school testing is to see that material has been learned within a specified timeframe, then why is requiring that testing be point-in-time arbitrary or unfair?

    If you have only 5 days to study for the test, but I have 6 (or 5.5, or…), is that somehow less arbitrary, or more fair?

    (I’m not even WATCHING these, and I want to get involved in the controversy. No Child Left Behind! Common Core!)

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    • She arrives for her test a few minutes late. Having less time to finish the test would be one thing. Not being able to take it all is stupid. One is a natural consequence. The other is capricious.

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      • I won’t argue ‘stupid’, but I will continue to contest words like ‘entirely arbitrary’ and ‘capricious’. Assuming Rory was (or should have been) aware of the Code, then the rules are the rules. You may think that 5 minutes more to study is fairly offset by 5 minutes less to take the test, but the instructor may not.

        If I’m 5 minutes late to a job interview in which the employer has stressed punctuality, due to my oversleeping because I was up late prepping – then he’s not being “arbitrary” or “capricious”, to deny me the interview.

        I mean, LIFE is “arbitrary” or “capricious”, but that’s not what we’re on about here.

        This is the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten. ;-)

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      • To my mind, arriving late should involve the obvious reduction in available time to complete the task, not the elimination of the ability to attempt the task at all. That’s true of somebody late for an interview or late for a test. I simply do not know what exactly is accomplished by implementing an all-or-nothing standard as it relates to a real world in which human beings exist.

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      • Will,

        I will note first and foremost that I am entirely unsympathetic to the claim that it is burdensome to simply hear somebody come into a room five minutes late.

        Supposing that I was sympathetic to the sort of busybody who’d make that claim, I’d say that the classroom door should have been locked. It wasn’t. If you’re going to let the student into the room, let her take the test, but only allow her the limited time that she left for herself.

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      • I’m taking Professor Wilkinson’s class, I hear he’s a marshmallow.

        Is there any hard limit of students arriving whenever they want to (one arrives 5 minutes late, the next 10, the next 15, and so on) that you would consider potentially disruptive or distracting to the punctual test-takers, who deserve the entire allotted time and minimal distraction? Some people experience extreme anxiety when taking tests, and unlimited random arrivals probably don’t help with their ability to concentrate.

        Is it incumbent on the instructor to lock the door, if he doesn’t want students to enter late; or incumbent on the student to arrive on time, as they should already know?

        If I arrive at a store 5 minutes after its posted closing time and find the door still unlocked, should they be obligated to let me shop? After all, they didn’t lock the door, and I am a real human being who needs socks.

        What about the tasks that you, as instructor (or interviewer) hoped to complete in that allotted test time? No worries that starting them late, or continually interrupting them to hand out another test, might mess up your schedule; or that it’s rude of the late person to show up whenever they like, rather than at the appointed time?

        Rory wasn’t in a car accident, or something out of her control – she stayed up late, and overslept/missed an alarm. And I am working under the assumption that the Code is something she did know, or should have known.

        I get this rule/teacher being the ‘villain’ within the context of fiction, and we all naturally identify with the ‘rebels’; but similar to the EPA guy in Ghostbusters, in real life people like this have a job to do, and part of that job is enforcing rules that are theoretically there for everyone’s benefit; and sometimes IRL, the ‘rebels’ are the ones acting like entitled jerks.

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      • I think you’re all wrong.

        The rule isn’t arbitrary but it has nothing to do with the test. It’s a way to begin preparing kids for the uncaring and competitive world that parents send kids to that kind of school to prepare them for. Schools like Chilton aren’t there to make kids smarter, they’re there to give kids a leg up on being editor of the Harvard Law Review or interning the summer of your junior year as the personal assistant of the CEO at Universal Petroleum. Teaching kids to drive themselves crazy about grades, schedules, peer ranking and so forth is exactly what parents shell out big money for schools like Chilton to do.

        This episode reminded me of nothing more than Paper Chase, and the headmaster nothing more than John Houseman’s Prof. Kingsfeild.

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      • Glyph,

        It should be noted by somebody – maybe the person writing the reviews? – that there was an accident on the way to the test. A deer manages to run into Rory’s Jeep as she’s driving to school. She stops to investigate briefly.

        As for arguing about the test, how about we agree to disagree? I’m not going to think that it makes sense to deny a person a chance to take a test just because they’re a few minutes late, and you guys are officious animals who probably cheer when police departments arrest jaywalkers. Cool?

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      • NO WAY, TO THE DEATH, WILKINSON!

        Just kidding. You know I only argue this hard when it doesn’t matter. If I am going to tilt at a windmill I prefer it to be completely imaginary and irrelevant.

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  3. Depictions of wealth are irrestible to the movie and television industries because it is very attractive. Beauty and bling attracts viewers. Poverty isn’t that attractive, making it difficult to portray unless your going for the gritty set. If you show Lorelai Gilmore, Sr. and Lorelai Gilmore, Jr. in more realistic material surroundings than the Gilmore Girls would be less people of a show.

    The D thing isn’t that unrealistic though. I had a friend in high school that was really brilliant and got into Yale. She was floored about how much more well prepared the students who went to elite private schools were for Yale than she was. Elite private schools can get really intense because they have the luxury to.

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    • McCain’s wife is not attractive. I’m not sure who the heck thinks the wealthy are attractive, but they’re really not.

      Of course, you couldn’t pay an actor to have that sort of plastic surgery, so you get pretty people pretending that they’re wealthy.

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      • Kim, I wrote depicstion of wealth are attractive not that wealthy people are attractive. I’m referring to things like houses, apartments, clothes, cars, and jewelry, and well laid out tables.

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  4. Sookie is one of the most positive female characters on TV in the last few decades IMNSHO. She’s allowed to have faults but not be defined by them. Ditto relationships. She is darn close to an actual human being. Which shouldn’t be nearly as uncommon as it is.

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