"Concert Interruptus" & "That Damn Donna Reed"

The Gilmore Girls Project

Yep. This post is late. Late late late. Sorry about that. It'll probably happen again sometime in the future.

A little housekeeping. If you live in the New York metro area, Videology in Williamsburg is hosting a Gilmore Girls watch party tonight. Details are here if you are so inclined.

"Concert Interruptus"

Air Date: February 15, 2001

Written By: Elaine Arata

Directed By: Bruce Seth Green

Other than a strong sense of satisfaction I got from seeing two bratty teenagers get smacked down, this episode didn't do a huge amount for me. Perhaps that would be different if the following episode, "That Damn Donna Reed", hadn't completely messed with my head. Jury's still out on that one. Anyway, you're getting a pretty basic recap on "Concert Interruptus".

Stars Hollow is having a rummage sale for charity. Since Lorelai has volunteered to collect for it, her entire home is overrun with everyone's stuff. Conveniently, Rory gets assigned to a group project for her history class. They're going to Rory's house to plan for it because Madeline's brother has measles, Paris' mother is redecorating post divorce, and Louise's mother is having an affair (no one blinks when that last one is mentioned). The group project meets up on the day that Sookie, Lorelai, and Rory are supposed to be going to a Bangles concert (I love you Susanna Hoff). Louise and Madeline are being nice to Rory, so in the spirit of buying her daughter friends, Lorelai suggests that they take the great concert tickets. Lorelai and Sookie wind up all the way at the back of the theater while the girls stand up front. Conveniently, the only two single, straight, college-aged boys ever to willingly go to a Bangles concert ever are standing behind them. Louise and Madeline go off with them to a NYC apartment party (not all they're cracked up to be, trust me, ladies). Paris and Rory bond over their mutual decision to enjoy the concert and not openly defy Lorleai. When Lorelai finds out that the girls have gone off to a party at 1st and Waverly, she tracks them down and unleashes her kickass mom superpowers on the boys and the wayward girls. The episode closes on the rummage sale.

Favorite Quote

"Take heart, my dear. Suffer today, party tonight." -Lorelai to Rory

Random Thoughts

-Lorelai's casual style seems to be, "If you can spangle it, I'll wear it." This makes her sometimes resemble a seven-year-old who has gone wild with her first Bedazzler.

-Tristan creepily macks on Rory in History class and gets called on it by his teacher. Then he goes up to Paris and openly flirts with her in front of Rory. Rory doesn't seem all that disturbed by this, but Tristan clearly thinks he's making a point. I'm half convinced he's going to grow up to stalk women.

-Is there anything worse than a high school group project? Probably, but I can't think of one right now because I'm blinded by all of the awful group project flashbacks running through my head.

-There's a whole subplot in this episode that deals with Lorelai enraging Luke by wearing his ex-girlfriend Rachel's sweatshirt. She pokes and prods to find out more information about Rachel, and Sookie and Patty paint this picture of an adventurous photographer who traveled the world. Eventually we come to learn that Luke's attachment to Stars Hollow was a breaking point for the relationship.

-Miss Patty is quickly solidifying herself as one of my favorite secondary characters. I love that she donates to the rummage sale the drum set she danced on at the Copacabana in 1969.

-I've always loved the "Hey look, a random band that has a CD to promote/is getting paid for an appearance" moment in TV shows. It's even better when the writers attempt to work the band into a story line and it kind of falls flat on its face. Sheryl Crowe in GCBs was my favorite, a reference which I realize that like .02% of the population is going to understand so here's the video:

-Just for accuracy's sake, I'm going to tell you that Waverly and 1st doesn't exist in New York City. Don't go looking for it, Gilmore Girls fans.

"That Damn Donna Reed"

Air Date: February 22, 2001

Written By: Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman-Palladino

Directed By: Michael Katleman

Gilmore Girls, you were so, so close to warming my little feminist heart. Sadly, you dropped the ball in "That Damn Donna Reed".

The episode opens with Lorelai, Rory, and Dean watching The Donna Reed Show. The ladies are making fun of the ridiculous 1950s standards that Donna is held to on the show, but then Dean steps in it:

Dean: She looks happy.

Lorelai: She's medicated.

This reveals Dean's belief that it would be nice to have a wife to come home to with dinner. It's what his mother has done for his father for years. Both of the women (and I) stared at him in disbelief.

Let me stop for a second here and talk about my own feelings on gender expectations. I'm a feminist, a very proud feminist of the third-wave variety. If a woman wants to make dinner for her husband and be a Donna Reed-esque housewife and she has a choice to do that, that's fine with me. The key word here is choice. What Dean does not seem to understand is that the character of Donna Reed* didn't have a choice. The expectation was that, as a housewife, she would be making her home a beautiful, pleasant place for her husband. Her own desire to live in a beautiful, pleasant home was secondary. Her husband has no expectation of contributing to the household except to go out and work, something Donna can't do because it would undermine his masculinity. Plus, you know, no jobs were really available to women of her social status. Yipie! Essentially, Donna Reed the character was constructed to reinforce the idea that this was the ideal situation for the middle class, American family. It is such, such bull.

Back to Gilmore Girls. Rory is more than a little horrified by the idea that Dean would expect this from the woman he eventually marries. Rightly so. Dean, being a straight, white, American, male teenager, assumes that this is the way things will be. That assumption? It sucks, and Rory calls him out on it.

So I'm watching along, thinking, "Goodness, this is pretty progressive for a WB TV show at the turn of the millennium. Good for Gilmore Girls." Then the wheels fall off the train. Rory dresses up like Donna Reed, cooks Dean dinner, and then agrees that it's pretty great doing this for her husband-like figure. Gee, big surprise that Dean agrees.

Okay, I try not to be a hypocrite so a caveat. Rory chooses to cook Dean dinner (there's that choice word again). Awesome for you, Rory. I can't be mad about that. I do wish that it didn't happen right after a fight in which your boyfriend didn't seem to understand the issues with expecting that his wife have dinner waiting for him at the end of the day, but I can't get picky.

Except I'm going to.

You see, while Rory learns that there are different ways to express and perform femininity,** Dean doesn't seem to learn anything from this episode. The writers make a weak attempt at showing that the real life Donna Reed was a producer on her show, making her one of the first TV executives in the business, but we don't see a real change in attitude from Dean. He doesn't grow, and that frustrates me. I want a female-centric show with a lead who defies social norms by being a proud single mother to do better.

The rest of the episode focuses on Lorelai getting close to Luke. She convinces him to paint Luke's which throws them into a lot of situations where they're alone. Then, after nearly kissing him while hiding in Luke's (for ridiculous reasons), Lorelai calls him to find Rory's chick that has gotten loose. Conveniently, Rory is next door dressed up as Donna Reed, so the house is empty. Unfortunately, she really did mean it when she told Luke over the phone that she needed his help finding an escaped chicken. Later Sookie finds out that Luke came over and tells Lorelai that she's got to figure her feelings out for this guy. Emily does the same before going scary, judgmental mother on her.

All is well and good and then a dude rides up on a motorcycle...and of course it's the elusive Christopher! Rory's father plays Cool Dad, telling his daughter that she should go for a ride on the back of his bike. Oh, and by the way, he's going to be staying for awhile.

Fantastic. So we're going to have Rory's dad around, mucking everything up.

*throws up hands and collapses on couch*

I don't even known what to do with this episode...

Favorite Quote

Lorelai: Excuse me, do you even know what stenciling is?

Luke: Does Martha Stewart do it?

Lorelai: Yes.

Luke: No stenciling.

Reasons Luke is Bound to Break Julia’s Heart

Luke kills Lorelai's horrible lemon lamp in the hunt for the chick. He is a defender of good taste. Also, I sat through most of this episode screaming, "Kiss her! Kiss him!" at the screen (when I wasn't being annoyed at Dean, of course).

Random Thoughts

-There's a hilarious subplot in this episode about Emily and Richard not being able to get their usual house in Martha's Vineyard for the spring season. It involves the most incredible shocked silence ever seen on TV over the suggestion that they might not fly first class to Europe in the fall. Richard and Emily sometimes remind me of two actors on an old 40s radio play.

-Not going to lie, my first reaction to Rory dressing up at Donna Reed and having Dean over for Donna Reed Night was, "Oh god, this is twisted. But I love her dress."

They also talk about snatching up Martha's Vineyard houses from dead people like New Yorkers speak about snatching up apartments from their dead tenants

-During a transitional shot, there's a random guy playing a guitar and singing into a portable microphone amp thingy strapped to him. Who are you and what is the place called Stars Hollow?

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*Who was a white, middle class, cisgender female TV character.

**I'm going to say right here that I strongly believe that choosing to wear pearls, lipstick, and heels doesn't make you any less of a feminist.