Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gilmore Girls for Foodies

Emily Gilmore returns to prime-time after a cruel summer-plus-two-episode absence to do what she does best: make her daughter Lorelai feel bad about herself and boss people around like she's the Queen of Spain. The door opens in the teaser and instead of the latest in the series of hapless maids, Emily's new domestic slave is a ten year-old girl being groomed for a cotillion. The lucky kid gets the first good laugh line of the night when she tells Lorelai that her mother said she would have a smart mouth. Zing! She then proceeds to take the drink orders and knows to ask if Lorelai would like her Martini straight up or on the rocks. Rory orders club soda, though we know she likes to tipple and indeed, in the ep's final scene her dad remarks on how she has ordered a drink with dinner. GGs would benefit from more drunken Rory scenes, but I can't complain about this installment of the ongoing story one iota. Tonight's was as perfect a Gilmore as ever aired. I have worried that without Amy and Dan, the show might end up losing its signature tone or drifting off into sharkey narrative waters. But the writers (tonight's script was credited to Everwood vet Rina Mimoun) have been ventriloquising remarkably well. Whether this is authentic or ersatz I cannot say, but I subscribe to the solipsistic theory of comedy: if I laugh, it's funny. I am laughing.

The etiquette training bits are clever not just because they give Kelly Bishop a chance to show her remarkable chops, but because they reveal character. This episode is about the possibility of Chris and Lorelai becoming a couple. In classic Gilmore fashion, this theme is not made apparent to us until the final scene, after Chris has dropped Rory off at home and Lorelai appears fresh from Emily's bash. But we realize in this moment that the high society function for moppets was Emily's way of recapturing Lorelai's youth, and that Lorelai's connection with Christopher goes back that far, to when they too were ten and victims of high WASP culture. GG likes to give us the impression that an episode is just slack, goofball fun, that nothing is at stake, and then in a flashy flourish to raise the stakes in a final scene that ends with a pregnant, questioning fade. This one duplicates that pattern of so many episodes from earlier seasons.

When she is tutoring the roomful of girls at the Dragonfly, one is reminded of the scenes in Gigi between the heroine and her Aunt Alicia, especially the one in which the clumsy girl is instructed on the proper manner of eating ortolan. Here eating food is not so much the point as the pretext for showing off one's good grooming. The counterpoint to this scene is the one in Lorelai's kitchen in which she wonders if she really would like Pop Tarts if her mother had served them to her on a silver platter. She is questioning (as with the hairstyle that looks good but which, to her dread, her mother likes) if she is the way she is merely because of her desire to be different from Emily. This is exactly the right scene for this moment: again, it crystallizes the theme of the episode, Lorelai's reluctance to see Christopher as her great love--in part because he is from her world, her past, her parents' milieu. Because being with him would please them. This is one good reason, perhaps, to reject him.

The other foodie moment comes in an exchange between Emily and Sookie. Sookie has prepared samples of food she is to serve the mini-debs at the tea at which Emily is to give them their etiquette instruction. Sookie tries to sub in pb&j for salmon in some canap├ęs, but Emily will have none of it. If she's going to compromise with peanut butter, she might as well just toast them some Pop Tarts.

This ep also had some excellent bits with Rory and Paris tutoring SAT kids and Rory scouring Henry Miller for ideas to use in dirty texting with Logan, but those things have nothing to do with food.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though Emily Gilmore drives me up the wall, I can't help but vaguely like her character because she went to my college and is perfectly written for an alum of fifty years ago. (As for far more recent fictional alumnae, Cristina Yang of Grey's Anatomy is a perfectly written example of, say, five years ago.)

Why do you care about this? I dunno. Just thinking.

12:39 AM  
Blogger md said...

so do you think the fact that Lorelei once said to her mother about Luke "he feeds me" indicates that he is -- at the end of the day -- the one for her?

I like this show so much better when the only boy in it is richard.

2:03 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

michelle, I do think that we are supposed to want Luke to be the one for Lorelai. The fact that he feeds her, that he takes care of people, makes him attractive. But the key is that he cooks regular food like pancakes and burgers, not fancy-pants stuff like prime rib. Also: do you accept Loreali and Chris as a couple? I have no issue with it but I sense that many fans may be disgusted by this turn of events.

Rhi, of fictional grads of your alma mater, the one that sticks most in my mind is Charlotte York (Sex and the City). Also, at first I took your "why do you care about this?" to mean, "what the hell kind of nonsense are you blogging about, freak!" But I read it again and realized you were referring to your own comment.

Emily Gilmore has a Wikipedia entry: "Many people have judged her to be a snobbish and haughty woman..." That made my day.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Later on in SatC we find out Charlotte was in a sorority, which Smith doesn't have. It's just one big sorority. [snorts] Though I can kinda see her being from there anyway...

Ainsley Hayes is also a very good example of someone conservative who went to Smith. Oh yes.

11:06 AM  
Blogger md said...

Personally, I like the GGs best when it's Lor, Rory, Michel, Sookie, Emily, Richard, Paris, Doyle, lane, zack, brian, gil, mrs. kim...and the townies. I could care less about luke, chris, or logan, tho I'll admit logan is growing on me. I just hate this stupid idea that the main drama in any woman's life has to be about the man she is with. it is sooo offensive.

2:44 PM  

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