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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