A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Paris Is Burning” and “Double Date”)
I have a supportive wife and supportive friends. They had all encouraged me to give Gilmore girls a serious shot, something I finally did when the show came to Netflix. So when I was finished watching the eleventh hour, I wrote this wife and friends of mine an email, demanding to know what in the hell I’d just witnessed. Let’s discuss that, shall we?
“Paris Is Burning”
Here are the things that happen in this episode: Lorelai and Max Medina have a date, Rory overhears her peers wondering about the woman who date Max Medina, Lorelai and Max Medina have another date, Lorelai goes to Chilton’s Parents’ Day, Lorelai and Max Medina kiss at Parents’ Day and are spotted doing so, rumors spread throughout the school about the relationship, Emily excoriates Lorelai for doing something as dumb as kissing Max Medina at school, Lorelai casually mentions that Max Medina might have been the one, and Max Medina ends up breaking things off.
If the episode had just been that, it would have been a fine throwaway, one in which we move immediately onto the next episode seeking something substantive. But there is a scene that deserves further scrutiny. It occurs after Lorelai and Max have gone ice-skating. Lorelai has managed to injure herself and when she gets home, her best friend Sookie is there to tend to her wounds. Sookie makes her tea and heats water for Lorelai’s feet and ankles. She also listens to Lorelai going on and on about Max and she notices when Lorelai appears to be withdrawing from the relationship before it even has a chance to blossom. Sookie calls this behavior out, noting that Lorelai always flees from relationships that show promise. Lorelai responds to this by noting that it has been years since Sookie’s last relationship. Let’s pause on that comment for a moment.
I might boggle about the Gilmore girls‘s characters conflict with one another – it’s me that’s the problem here, not the show – but I’m never confused as to why the conflict is occurring. When Lorelai and Emily throw grenades at one another, it is always, always, always motivated by their dissatisfaction with one another, almost as if both expect to be accepted in their entirety when that simply isn’t possible. Their skirmishes, in other words, make sense when understood within the broader context. The same is true of Rory’s fights with Paris, of Luke’s fights with the town grocer, of Lane’s fights with her mother, etc.
But Sookie is different within the broader context of the show. She is literally a joist propping Lorelai up. Even though we’re only on the eleventh episode, we’ve so far seen her repeatedly deliver professionally (the inn receives rave reviews for her cooking) and personally (she seemed to have made everything for the inexplicable Chilton Bake sale). Then, she comes to Lorelai’s house to literally take care of her with tea and a warm bath. And Lorelai’s response is to go straight for the jugular when Sookie strays even slightly off the path of the perfect friend who endures everything and says nothing?
My wife and friends excoriated me for getting mad about this scene. “It’s just what women do!” “It’s just one scene!” “She apologized right away!” etc. But that’s all bullshit. Depending upon how seriously you’re willing to take it, the scene puts Lorelai’s character into an entirely different light. No longer is she just the single mom who made it through against all odds…well, not all, but some, I guess, sort of…but now she’s also capable of being the bully, and not simply the bully, but the bully to the woman who is literally her best friend and who, it should be noted, doesn’t seem to have any particular reason to be endure this sort of behavior.
Sookie meekly protests her treatment instead, noting (as Lorelai should have known) that she has been working hard and that her hours (roughly twelve per day at the inn, plus another of couple tending to Lorelai’s every whim) prevent her from carrying on long-term relationships. Lorelai knows she was wrong to say she did and apologizes immediately. Sookie then doesn’t stab her with a kitchen knife or pour boiling water all over her head.
What we’ll see almost immediately is an attempt to remedy the situation as it played out here. Sookie asks Jackson The Produce Man out on a date. Lorelai’s relationship – such as it is – falls apart. But this moment was entirely boneheaded and ill-conceived.
At the end of the previous episode, Sookie snagged a date with Jackson, but because television requires hijinks, her date is saddled with a cousin who comes along. He is Roon, destroyer of worlds, and Lorelai is pressed into service as his date. Roon is outrageously offensive, repeatedly criticizing everything about, well, everything. Jackson finally sends him packing and he and Sookie enjoy a meal and a conversation at Luke’s.
And again, because shenanigans, Lane presses Rory into double-dating too, only this involves lying to Lane’s taciturn mother and to Lorelai. Because they’re teenagers and because they have no game, they’re busted almost immediately, and only after Lane has realized that her fantasies about the boy far outpaced his reality. Lane’s mother insinuates that she doesn’t want her daughter ending up like Lorelai – presumably meant to be a dig at Lorelai at 16, not Lorelai now – and Lorelai is forced to side with her, excoriating Rory for lying. She cites what she describes as the Mom’s Code and Rory acknowledges her mistakes (the second time in recent history that Rory has made decisions that give her mother good reason to distrust her judgement).
The only other big of significant happening is Luke and Lorelai appearing, again, to have an easy chemistry with one another. This predictably results in absolutely nothing and Luke – inexplicably restrained despite Lorelai’s apparent availability – isn’t aggressive. They play cards together and the most Luke can muster is saying that he hopes they can play cards again.
the eternal charm
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