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