A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Cinnamon’s Wake” and “Rory’s Birthday Parties”)

Notes

I should probably be titling things Gilmore girls since that’s the show’s official title, but I hate how it looks in the header. That lower case “g” is, frankly, maddening.

“Cinnamon’s Wake”

Get it? Like Finnegan’s Wake? Only it’s Cinnamon, the now deceased cat of Lorelai’s next-door neighbors.

Let’s forget for a moment that all of Stars Hollow gathers to mourn the passing of a cat. That’s silly and ridiculous and something that we just have to accept/ignore going forward. Let’s instead speak of Max Medina. Max is Rory’s English teacher. He’s the one who forbade Rory’s test-taking in the previous episode, thus leading to Rory’s and then Lorelai’s (entirely appropriate) meltdowns. In this episode, Max tries to make peace with Lorelai during the Chilton bake-sale. Why is a school with a tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-per-year tuition having a bake sale? Who knows. But Lorelai isn’t messing around, pressing Sookie into service to (out)cook all comers. (This is something that Sookie does seemingly without objection. Keep that willingness in mind as we move forward, not in this post, but throughout the first season.)

Max tries to make good with Lorelai about the test and eventually asks her out on a date, because obviously, a teacher dating a student’s mother is an entirely appropriate thing to do, especially just one episode after it is emphasized that Mr. Medina is a by-the-book taskmaster. Although Lorelai notes this she ends up agreeing to the date because…

…because I don’t know why actually. Max is boring. There is no obvious reason for Lorelai to agree to this, especially when she later seems to say that her rules since Rory’s birth have largely precluded any sort of relationship. It’s almost impossible to believe that those rules can be broken in Max’s case. He might as well be carrying a red-flag. But that doesn’t stop Lorelai from going and from being convinced by Max that she should go on a second date with him. Again for no obvious reason but maybe we’re supposed to believe that the loins are leading the head in this case. Except that Max isn’t obviously a loin-leader. I digress.

Meanwhile, Dean reappears. Dean is the bad-boy (he wears a leather jacket and has ear-length hair) who gave Rory reason to briefly consider not going to Chilton. Rory still finds him appealing and even more-so when Dean makes the effort necessary to ride the bus with her for a few minutes on her way to Chilton. Rory later pursues Dean at the impossibly-quaint grocery store where he works as a stockboy/bagger although she crumbles when actually faced with the opportunity to initiate contact.

In the end, everybody gathers for a cat’s funeral, including Max (there for the second date) and Dean (there to say that he will stop his pursuit). Lorelai tells Max that she will go on the date but not then. Rory tells Dean that of course she’s still interested but not then. There is a cat to mourn after all.

“Rory’s Birthday Parties”

Rory is turning 16. This is a big deal for the older women in her life, both of whom want to throw her a birthday party. Lorelai’s will be the same as it ever was, with all of Stars Hollow invited. Emily’s will be…different.

The writers often go out of their way to make Emily a singularly loathsome character. She is seemingly permanently dense to the possibility that those around her would have interests different than her own. When she asks Lorelai to go shopping with her for Rory’s present, she is put off when what’s suggested doesn’t match what she wants to buy. When she arranges Rory’s party by inviting all of Chilton and serving food that most teenagers probably aren’t interested in, she is aghast when Rory refuses to make a speech in front of the gathered group (which includes everybody from Chilton, including Rory’s least favorite classmates). Lorelai and Emily, predictably, go to war.

Lorelai, for what is presumably the thousandth time, is right to observe that just because Emily has visions of something doesn’t mean that other people must go along with it, whether it’s a 16th birthday party or, although entirely unsaid here, an unplanned pregnancy. Emily apparently believes that everybody would be happier going along with her plans. Lorelai has forever believed otherwise and to emphasize this, she invites Emily to the party that she has arranged for Rory. The goal – showing Emily what Rory actually likes, and that her life hasn’t been the disaster that Emily imagines it have been – is a reasonable one. It also serves the purpose of, if only briefly, getting Emily and Richard out of the hyper-wealthy enclaves that we’ve so far seen them in. No more Gilmore Castle. No more country club. No more upscale department store. Lorelai is determined to make her point on her home turf.

And she does. Emily and Richard begrudgingly arrive in just enough time to understand the world that Lorelai has painstakingly created for her daughter. Rory is luxuriating in the gift of a computer from her mother, about to eat a cake made for her by Sookie, and is surrounded by her Stars Hollow family. Emily’s flees upstairs in an attempt to escape from a scene she never expected and ends up stumbling upon a photo of a broken-legged Lorelai. She asks what happened and Lorelai is casual about having broken her leg doing yoga – (editor’s note: what?) – but that isn’t the point. Emily hadn’t known that Lorelai broke her leg. Half of Lorelai’s lifetime has passed with Emily seemingly having had little knowledge of it. That she is forced to contemplate all of this on what is apparently her first ever visit to Lorelai’s home speaks volumes, as does her stunned silence, especially in the car after the party with Richard. He notes that she appears to be upset, and for him to have even noticed is explanation enough as to the gravity of her newfound understanding.

There is another moment earlier in the show worth mentioning. Lorelai climbs into Rory’s bed at the exact time she was born. She wakes her long enough to tell her that she loves her and Rory, because she is a teenager, listens just long enough to fall peacefully back to sleep. At many times in my life, I am the dense father, not because I want to be, but because my brain doesn’t seem to always work, but I can easily tell you with precision when my children were born – at dawn, at just after lunch, and at just before midnight. The actual times don’t matter as much to me as the moments, and this moment between Lorelai and her daughter speaks volumes as to their bond, particularly Lorelai’s to Rory. It shows instead of telling. It is beautiful.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

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15 thoughts on “A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Cinnamon’s Wake” and “Rory’s Birthday Parties”)

  1. “Why is a school with a tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-per-year tuition having a bake sale? ”

    Why does a military with a 700 billion dollar budget need to send care packages to Da Troops?

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  2. Rory’s and then Lorelai’s (entirely appropriate) meltdowns

    Let it go….

    That lower case “g” is, frankly, maddening.

    And thus the descent into insanity begins….

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  3. The birthday parties seem to have captured you, hence no more disparaging comments about “is that all that happens?” I think it might’ve happened sooner, your capture, in “Kill Me Now,” when you see Richard and Rory get to know and really care about each other maybe? I’ve read all of these Meathead posts. You keep writing, I’ll keep reading. I can’t wait till you find that exact moment when you despise ASP for jumping the shark with April or you begin to despise Rory for turning into the entitled twit her mother might have become if Lorelai hadn’t been so stubborn. Welcome to our world. ;)

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    • No, I can assure you, additional meltdowns about what does/doesn’t happen and whether it constitutes an episode. Thank you though for reading and for your promise to continue doing so. That is a very nice thing to have taken the time to write.

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  4. Cinnamon’s Wake – One problem with depicting extreme wealth is that the rich are different than you and me but you need characters your audience can relate to. Thats why rich people often behave more like middle class people without income worries rather than rich people.

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  5. Re: Private Schools and Fundraisers.

    Many Private Schools do have Fundraisers. They tend to be silent auctions with really fancy things:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-truffle/la-private-schools-fundraising_b_2719668.html

    From vacation homes in France or Cabo (The Willows School), to Lunch With the Ladies at Soho House (Buckley School), to wine tasting weekends in Napa Valley (Willows), to tickets to the Hunger Games premiere and after-party last year (John Thomas Dye), these tantalizing live and silent auction items can be yours… all while subsidizing the cost of better school for your kids. Some of these moneymakers rake in six figures and higher!

    But as said this not easy to related to so a bake sale it is!

    Interestingly wealthy public schools are also starting to get in on the fancy fundraising game and setting up trusts and endowments for their districts.

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  6. I beg to differ on the question of Max’s hotness. Add in Lorelai’s deep insecurity about not feeling like she belongs at Chilton, her rejected-these-people-already-they-can’t-reject-me-nyah-nyah thing, her authority figure issues and her daddy issues? Of course she’s hot for teacher.

    I mean, in magical Stars Hollow land where everyone gathers to mourn the death of a cat.

    FWIW, I think people who enjoy stories of this type experience them not as “realistic” but as something as genred as a sci-fi show or an epic fantasy novel would be. There’s plenty of practiced-suspension-of-disbelief going on. As these sorts of shows GO, this one had a lot of cool new features not seen in previous versions. It’s not “Sports Night” for chicks, it’s “Designing Women” or “Newhart” for people who like Sports Night.

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    • PS There’s also the whole “vigorously continuing to avoid recognizing that she has feelings for Luke” thing. Heaven forbid she has free time to think about her actual life path rather than rushing into things. She saves all the thinking for work and child-raising.

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    • Your last paragraph raises a very interesting point. Shows like Gilmore Girls should be interpreted as a genre show rather than a realistic drama. I can’t think of a clever name for the genre but it usually revolves around a quaint community filled with charming people and their daily lives.

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    • Sports Night almost never showed the characters outside of work, but they were still the same sort of extended family as the denizens of Stars Hollow. That’s common in work-based sitcoms; it goes back at least to the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Even characters that are otherwise sociopaths (Bill McNeill, Louie DePalma) deep down care about their coworkers.

      And, honestly, while Max was obviously hot for Lorelei from the first, it didn’t seem like the kind of passion he described to her. And she didn’t seem interested until he went on and on about how much he liked her. If this were a more realistic show, I’d think he’s a dishonest womanizer and she fell for his line.

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