A Meathead Watches Gilmore Girls (“Emily In Wonderland” and “PS I Lo…”)
“Emily In Wonderland”
Rachel – the woman who has repeatedly wooed Luke and then fled from him, breaking his heart – and Luke appear to be settling down, because exposition is for losers. Over a meal, she shows Lorelai and Luke photos she took at Stars Hollow’s Firelight Festival and she comments upon how beautiful Lorelai’s eyes are. While everybody ignores how weird this is, Luke stammers like an idiot and we move on. Because everybody but Luke and Lorelai realize that they’re supposed to be together. Everybody. There isn’t a single person who watched this show who didn’t realize immediately that Luke and Lorelai were supposed to be together. Except, of course, for Luke and Lorelai. They’re confused. LIFE IS SO CONFUSING!
Rory decides that taking grandmother on a walking tour of Stars Hollow makes sense, because if there’s anything that Emily has proven to be very good at, it is existing in the world beyond the pampered one she exists in. So far this season, we’ve seen her at a hospital (where she acted like an ass) and at a department store (where she acted like an ass) and at Lorelai’s house for Rory’s birthday (where she acted like an ass). In each occasion, confrontation with a world beyond her control reduces her to quivering rubble. So, yes, by all means, let’s take Emily on a walking tour of Stars Hollow.
We hit all of the predictable occurrences – including Emily walking in sneakers (and liking it!), Emily eating strange commoner food (and liking it!), Emily going to Lane’s mother’s antique store (and liking it!) – before a very odd moment: Rory shows Emily the potting shed where her and Lorelai first lived after fleeing Gilmore Estates, or whatever the Gilmore family home is called. Emily is horrified. How is it that her daughter could have lived in a potting shed!
Yeah, but no, wait a minute: I want that question answered too. How was it that Lorelai and baby Rory lived in a potting shed? Like, specific details please. Like, stop the show completely and show us their lives in a potting shed. I want details. Don’t just tell me that this once happened long ago, use it as underpinning for the umpteenth Emily meltdown, and then forget that we ever talked about it.
Or whatever. Don’t. That’s fine.
Emily gets it in her head that she needs to create a real room for Rory. And so she does, redoing a room at the Gilmore Estates in its entirety and then “surprising” Rory with it. As a bonus, she then gets to castigate Lorelai’s parenting – she could have had a room like that for her entire life, says Emily, but Lorelai had to flee – because Emily never passes up an opportunity to be an asshole.
Meanwhile, Lorelai and Rachel continue discussing Luke. Rachel says she’s going to leave because Luke won’t settle down with her. Because she means it this time. Because after leaving many times before, something the show has gone to great pains to explain, Luke should just know that Rachel means it this time. I recognize in advance that this show is meant for women, and I recognize in advance that we men are perhaps less in touch with our emotional sides, but to present Luke as if he’s being the bad guy here? To suggest that Luke has any reason at all to trust that Rachel means it now after having disappeared on numerous previous occasions? Bullshit. Literal bullshit.
But because the show can’t just settle at Lorelai and Rachel discussing Luke’s emotional unavailability, Lorelai then approaches Luke herself to castigate him about his unwillingness to settle down with Rachel. Forget, for a moment, that just a few episodes ago Luke made it quite clear that he thought Lorelai was booty-calling him, and forget, for a moment, that just a few episodes ago Luke was willing to repaint his entire beloved diner because Lorelai suggested that he should, and instead focus on the utter chutzpah it takes for Lorelai – who knows that Luke has been abandoned before, and who in fact apologized to him several episodes earlier for not knowing and not being sensitive enough to the pain that Rachel’s actions had caused Luke – to castigate him about not settling down. What sort of insane world is this where we’re meant to be on the women’s side here? Luke being cautious makes perfect sense. PERFECT SENSE.
Luke eventually capitulates by giving Rachel an indication that he too is willing to settle down a bit. Which isn’t what Rachel has ever earned but whatever. Let’s just pretend like a very important history and an established pattern of behavior should be ignored. What the hell show?
“PS I Lo…”
Lorelai and Max Medina (the most boring man in the world) are back together again, because sure, whatever. They’ve been having steamy phone conversations. But Rory’s been drowning in her post-Dean sorrow, so Lorelai hasn’t told her the good news. Max Medina notices Rory’s distant affect and decides that the perfect way to solve things is telling Rory that she can always come to him with her troubles. He does this while at school. The school he works at. It’s called Chilton. Remember Chilton? That’s the school Rory goes to. Where she’s Max Medina’s student. Where being thirty seconds late to a test means a failing grade. But also where talking to your students about banging their mothers is apparently perfectly acceptable behavior. Rory is less than thrilled to be hearing about things from her mom’s boy(ish)friend and storms off.
Rory’s attitude doesn’t improve. She fights with Lane, and then her mother, and then, rather than meeting her mother at home, she flees to the Gilmore Estate without telling Lorelai. Lorelai freaks out, understandably, because she doesn’t have any idea where her daughter is, while Emily delights in having been Rory’s destination. And because Emily can never just be a decent human being, she decides that poking at Lorelai with Rory’s presence is a good idea. Although this is abandoned by the end of the episode – Rory spends the night, wakes up, and leaves with Lorelai – Emily’s behavior here is genuinely shocking and unbelievably inappropriate. It is absolutely impossible to see things from Emily’s point-of-view when she’s acting like this.
But Rory has been melting down, other things have been happening, Luke repeatedly comes over to Lorelai’s house to fix things. This is weird and goes unexplored. Luke is just around, on, and in Lorelai’s house and the most she does is shrug. “That’s so Luke!” I guess. Also, Lorelai volunteers to act as Luke’s shopper in the run-up to Rachel’s birthday. Because that’s a totally normal thing that people do. How could anybody possibly think that there’s something inappropriate about all this? Lorelai doesn’t, even though it was literally an episode ago that Rachel was saying that Luke seems be suffering from commitment issues. None of this stops Lorelai from taking Luke’s credit card to the mall and then not only finding presents for Rachel (an absurdly expensive camera bag, from the looks of it) but also purchasing what appears to be hundreds of dollars of clothing for Luke. Money is a meaningless concept in Stars Hollow. Well, either that, or Luke is secretly a billionaire. Anyway, Lorelai then proceeds to play dress-up with Luke.
Lorelai. Plays. Dress-up. With. Luke.
Rachel walks in on this and is taken aback. Hard to believe, right?
And in case Lorelai hasn’t stuck her nose into enough business, she also decides that confronting Dean about the break-up makes sense. Dean explodes at her, explaining that he said he loved Rory and she balked and then asking how that’s his fault. Lorelai refuses to concede that it isn’t his fault – heaven forbid – so instead, she confronts Rory in an attempt to convince her to consider being willing to say those words when she is ready to say them. “Don’t be like me,” she says, “Don’t be afraid of commitment.”
WHICH MAKES NO GODDAMNED SENSE, BECAUSE LORELAI HASN’T BEEN AFRAID OF COMMITMENT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FIRST SEASON. Yes, she has been cautious about commitment – she refused Rory’s father insane proposal of marriage, and she was very cautious about things with Max Medina – but that isn’t fear. That’s being a normal human being who knows the score, something that ought to be celebrated, not treated as though it is problematic. Gah.
Impossibly, the season finale is even worse.
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