"Paris is Burning" & "Double Date"

The Gilmore Girls Project Hello all! We're more than halfway through the first season of Gilmore Girls and I'm beginning to see why my friends adored the show when it was first airing. In fact, I was just on Twitter the other day trying to convince other unsuspecting romance authors to watch along with me. Whether they'll take me up on my offer...well that remains to be seen.

You might have noticed last week that I've started tracking air dates, writers, and directors. I'm most interested in who wrote the shows as I'm curious to see if certain writers have easily identifiable tells once you've watched a few of their episodes. Outside of shows with strong show runners (Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Mad Men all spring to mind), I ironically haven't really paid attention to TV writers. Time to change that for research purposes.

"Paris is Burning"

Air Date: January 11, 2001

Written By: Joan Binder Weiss

Directed By: David Petrarca

Welp, there goes Max, at least for the foreseeable future. Oh, Max. We hardly knew ye.

All you really need to know about this episode is that Lorelai and Max are dating, but Lorelai starts to pull away when she realizes how much she likes him, and then they kiss in his classroom on Parents Day. Paris sees them because of course she does. Conveniently, this is just the thing that Paris needs to distract the school from her parents' very public divorce (hence the title). Rory gets mad at Lorelai. Emily gets mad at Lorelai. Rory sort of confronts Paris but it turns into a hesitant, "Hey, if you ever need me, I'm here," moment. Lorelai and Max sort of break up when he tells her they should take a break. The show ends with Rory coming home and climbing into bed to comfort her mother who is crying.

Book Nerd Moments

Marcel Proust's Swann's Way, Michael Crichton

Favorite Quote

Rory: You know what it means when a man loans you a book, don’t you?

Lorelai: That he’s already read it.

Rory: Yep.

Reasons Luke is Bound to Break Julia's Heart

Yeah, Luke is totally wearing the hat that Lorelai gave him in the last episode. Also, he cleans her skates for her which is not a euphemism.

Random Thoughts

-“It’s a book. It’s meant to be read.” I could almost love you for that one line, Max. Too bad you'll be gone in the next 40 minutes.

-Lorelai and Sookie have a friend fight in this episode and it sucks. Sookie correctly identifies Lorelai’s “get away dance” at the 2 month mark in a relationship. Lorelai says that she’s not breaking up with Max because she's scared of attachment and then lashes out at Sookie in full-on jackass mode, calling her out for not being in a relationship in years. She apologizes immediately, but god does it suck. You feel for Sookie in that moment.

-Hey, woah! There's a Rick James and a Hugh Grant prostitution reference all in once sentence in this episode. You can't just drop that kind of thing in casual conversation and move on.

-Max is...uneven in this episode. Sometimes he's totally confident and acting the role of alpha. Then, when speaking to Rory about what to call him outside of school, he's clearly uncomfortable. Fine, it's an awkward situation, but things get even weirder when he confronts Rory in the hallway at Chilton and asks if her mother's coming to Parents Day. It's like he can barely get a word out. Which Max is the real Max? We may never know (but with my luck he'll show up in next week's round of episodes thus making all of these dramatic statements moot).

-Lorelai tries to break up with Max in his classroom, but he fights for the relationship. Why is that a bad thing, you might ask. Because, dear reader, he comes across as a jerk who doesn't understand why a single mother would want to protect her kid from her dating life. The scene left me really, really uneasy about him.

-Sookie asks Jackson out to dinner while he’s ranting about squash blossoms. Neither of them know what to do with this, and it's fairly adorable.

"Double Date"

Air Date: January 18, 2001

Written By: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Directed By: Lev L. Spiro

A double dose of double dates on Gilmore Girls! So basically, the premise for this episode is that Lane pressures Rory into setting her up with a friend of Dean's named Todd. Lorelai gets set up with Jackson's cousin, Rune, after Sookie panics and asks him on a double date. Both dates fail spectacularly. Lane realizes that the boy she likes is a pretty vapid, uninteresting child and Rune openly hates on Lorelai for being too tall (she kindly doesn't mention that he's the worst person ever). Lorelai winds up chatting with Luke at his restaurant while trying to give Sookie and Jackson some time to themselves. Mrs. Kim, Lane's mother, sees her and demands to know where the girls are. Turns out that they omitted some of the truth about seeing a movie with Dean, and everyone gets in trouble. The episode is resolved when Lorelai visits Mrs. Kim at the antique store and they have a nice moment including this weirdly sincere exchange:

Lorelai: I certainly don't want Rory to turn out like me.

Mrs. Kim: I don't want Lane to turn out like you either.

Bonding over teen pregnancy, folks. Works every time.

And because this is the Gilmore Girls and they must toy with me, Luke nearly, kind of, sort of, maybe asks Lorelai out at the end of the episode, but it's so vague no one will ever know.

Get it together guys. Seriously...

Okay, this week we're talking about two things:

  1. The horror that is setups
  2. The difference in the types of social pressure placed on teenage girls and boys when it comes to relationships

We all know that Lorelai loves Sookie and wants her to get a real shot with Jackson when she allows herself to be subjected to a setup date. In fact, she so unenthusiastic about it, this is how the conversation ends...

Sookie: You will not regret this.

Lorelai: Pick another phrase.

Sookie: You will not have to pay.

Lorelai: Much better.

And yet this is what you do for your friends.

Now, that doesn't change the fact that most setups are awful (even more so when they come in the form of a double date). I'm sure that somewhere out there, there are couples who met under these conditions and are perfect matches for one another. Most are not. Setups are horrible because your friend/s want so badly for two people they love to find their love.* At some point, we've got to realize that things like, "You love dogs...and he loves dogs!" does not compatibility make. Friends don't set friends up unless they're dead sure that the chemistry is going to be off the charts.

And onto the subject of teenage boys...

Lane's relationship (or lack there of) with Todd represents all of the disappointment one feels as a teenage girl who just discovered the totally cute guy she likes is really, well, a teenage boy. It also shows us the vast differences in the emotional expectations placed on boys and girls in their teenage years.

My wonderful dude friends from growing up aside, most teen boys are kind of disappointing. I think a lot of that has to do with what we ask of boys and girls in their teenage years. Girls mature faster both emotionally and physically than boys, true, but society also tends to put early pressure on women to select a partner and settle down. Women are conditioned to seek a relationship at an early age, so we're told that we must also know what it is that we want in a boy/man.

I wanted the 16-year-old boys I had crushes on to be the Darcy/Wentworth/[insert other hero] to my Elizabeth/Anne/[insert other heroine] because that's what you're supposed to want when you're a 16-year-old girl, right? Yes, I'm sure that hormones has something to do with it, but the benefit of hindsight is that I can honestly say I was not emotionally ready for any sort of relationship in high school. And yet I remember feeling like I should want one. None of the boys I knew were being told the same messages about culling through the swarms of teenage girls around them to find the ones that best fit their idea of a future wife. The message is sometimes subtle, but it's always there.

Poor Todd in this episode doesn't really have interests. He doesn't know who he is because the world isn't asking him to know yet. Yet Lane has a strong sense of who the 16-year-old version of herself is. She's likely more naturally inclined to be intellectually curious than Todd, but she's also being asked to know these things already. She's subliminally had it drilled into her that she should have interests and values and motivations that she can then measure up against Todd's interests and values and motivations. And how disappointing when he don't seem to reach past shooting soda through his nose?

Book Nerd Moments

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (Oh Rory, you little feminist, you. I can already tell we're going to be best friends.=)

Favorite Quote

"I have to know where you are at all times, especially when you have my shoes on." -Loelai

Reasons Luke is Bound to Break Julia's Heart

He is just as bad as Sookie is about asking someone out on a date. Also, apparently the way to settle disputes at Luke's is to play poker.

Also, still wearing that hat...

Random Thoughts

-The cold open to this episode is a wonderful continuous, non-verbal shot of the Gilmores going through their morning routine. Coffee, Pop Tarts, getting each other dressed. They're perfectly in sync, and it is an excellent example of showing us their bond instead of telling us about it.

-Poor Lorelai is studying for a business school exam and looking to distract herself. I was the exact same way when writing my master's thesis. I also show signs of doing this when I'm midway through the first draft of a book (like I am right now).

-Hey, Dean got a haircut! Now he's slightly less floppy-haired than before.

-Michel is back. Although not particularly quotable this week, I missed his snarky, French face.

-Melissa McCarthy's makeup and hair is always spot on. She must sweat the least out of any chef I've ever known.

-You know what's awesome about this episode? Never once is implied that Sookie has trouble dating because of Melissa McCarthy's weight. Sookie is nervous and doesn't know how to assert what she wants and in a panic all at different times during this week, but all of those things are aspects of her character. Most other TV shows would use this as a teaching moment about accepting yourself for who you are at the best of times or a chance to get a laugh at the worst. Gilmore Girls does neither of those things, and that's something to love about the show. In not saying something, it's actually saying something very big.

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*It's also much easier to schedule couples dates that way (excuse my cynicism).