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Festive Rewind: Gilmore Girls “Forgiveness and Stuff”

24 Dec

It’s TV Ate My Wardrobe’s first festive season and to mark this occasion we are hosting a very special rewind series. What this means is that we will be featuring a whole host of guest posts and in the spirit of the holidays we have asked a variety of writers to discuss a festive episode of their choice. These will be appear on the site over the next couple of weeks and there’s an eclectic mix including teen dramas, science fiction, animation, comedy, drama and more to get you in the celebratory mood. Or to at least give you plenty of suggestions of TV to watch over the break.

Today is a bumper Festive Rewind day (it is Christmas Eve after all) and Kari Peperkorn Marlowe talks us through the Gilmore Girls episode “Forgiveness and Stuff.”

Gilmore Girls

‘Twas the weeks before Christmas and all through the town,

Bright reds and greens filled the square – and Taylor’s sweater, it was brown.

The Christmas pageant – a mess; Jesus missing his arm,

And the smell of sweet apple tarts, like fresh from the farm.

Christmas parties, so merry – Richard adjusting his tie,

Before dessert was served, he dropped like a… fly.

Okay, it’s official.  I can’t pull together a full synopsis of Gilmore Girls’ season one, ‘Forgiveness and Stuff’ to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas without getting callus and corny (which, by the way, sounds like a disgusting combination in itself).  It’s not that I didn’t try, believe me. I just got stuck with rhyming ‘Santa burger’ and felt it would be better for all concerned if I took a more traditional route.  Hey, if it was good enough for the Three Wise Men, it’s good enough for me.

Here’s the scene:

Rory and Lorelai aren’t talking; Lorelai and Emily aren’t talking and Dean is busy lurking outside the Gilmore residence since that whole, ‘we fell asleep at Miss Patti’s after the dance, but nothing happened’ situation. Despite knowing Rory is a good kid – a great kid, really (and we’re still far from season five’s rebellion) – Lorelai is forced to don her ‘Mom hat’ (maybe in this case, more accurately, her Mom jeans, as this was December 2000 and high-waisted pants seemed more of thing).  With Emily mad at Lorelai over letting Rory gallivant about town, the annual Gilmore Christmas party invitation is quickly reneged and Lorelai is left to dream of Emily’s famous apple tarts while eating salad from a bag.  While I’m unsure why Lorelai had bagged salad on hand in the first place, it’s clearly a last resort as she makes an attempt to order pizza, but to little avail.  That’s the problem with a small town.  If dude’s brother has the delivery van, all bets are off.  With starvation imminent, Lorelai puts on her winter coat and heads to town by foot.  First stop?  Luke’s Diner for some festive cheer and an especially good cup of nutmeg-infused coffee.

Lucky for Lorelai, her sadness over the lack of apple tarts prompted Luke to boost her spirits in the form of a Santa burger.  “No one has ever made me something quite this disgusting before,” she says with love and thankfulness in her voice.  The mayonnaise beard is, admittedly, an inspiring and artery-clogging addition to any holiday feast and now I can’t celebrate Christmas without whipping up my own culinary masterpiece.  Or at least watching this episode to remember how it was done.

Gilmore Girls

Before Lorelai can dig into her bearded burger, she gets a message from Rory saying the party has been cut short and Richard has been taken to the hospital.  While Lorelai was trudging through town in her parka and mittens in search of food, the Gilmores were sitting down for their holiday feast.  During dinner, Richard began complaining he was too warm and had to loosen his Burberry bowtie.  This act caused a look of extreme disapproval from Emily who must have been equally toasty as she was sporting a fur-trimmed suit jacket – a piece we thankfully never saw her wear again… but I digress.  It isn’t long before Richard collapses and is taken to the hospital where, believe it or not, Jane Lynch is working as a nurse.  Fortunately, this is in the pre-Sue Sylvester of Glee days, so her demeanor is as even-tempered as one could expect with Emily yelling for puffier pillows and crazy things like ‘answers’ and ‘updates.’

In the end, Richard fends off a bout of angina, Emily and Lorelai make up, Rory and Lorelai repair their relationship, Lorelai and Luke become a little closer and Taylor gets his free hot chocolate.

Looking back on this episode, I can’t help but reflect on the wonderful foreshadowing that was done in such a clever way.  Christmas or other such holiday episodes can often be put on the shelf and filed under ‘filler’ as they don’t necessarily contribute in an active way to a show’s story arch.  That’s not the case with ‘Forgiveness and Stuff’ though.  In fact, there were three great moments that provided flashes into the show’s future:

1)      It’s all about Harvard: Leaning through Rory’s open bedroom window, Dean tells Lorelai that he wants Rory to follow her dream and go to Harvard, and that if she doesn’t, it won’t be because of him.  Of course, by season four, Rory’s new dream is to go to Yale and Dean never stood in her way.

2)      The Dating Game: After driving Lorelai to the hospital, Luke finds himself in the waiting area.  Sitting down next to him, Emily tells Luke he’s an idiot and that he should have been on a date with Lorelai.  Even in this 10th episode I think the world agreed, but their relationship wouldn’t turn into something more until the end of season four.

3)      Father Knows Best:  Richard did the best for his family and provided in the ways he thought he should.  Lorelai tells Luke that unlike her father, she thinks he would be a good ‘Barbie-buying’ Dad.  While Luke seems vaguely open to the idea of being a father – or at least to this discussion – he said he would give his daughter the money to buy what she wanted and would wait outside.  Of course, by season six, Luke’s daughter, April, had joined the show and it turned out that Luke loved being a hands-on father.  He would pick out the Barbie’s, or in April’s case, a cat-themed vanity bathroom set, complete with toothbrush holder.

The one thing that I love most about Stars Hollow, holidays or not, is that despite the fact this was the first Christmas we experienced in the town, it felt like we’d been there forever.  Maybe a few seasons, or maybe a lifetime.  It’s as though we’d heard Luke explain that he doesn’t have a holiday menu *again* this year and we know that he’s turned Taylor down in his plea for free hot chocolate before.  It’s a warm a cozy place – like coming home in December and sitting down with a giant cup of eggnog (with or without rum, no judgment) in one hand and a minty candy cane in the other.  It’s a place I came to love for 154 glorious episodes.  And it’s a place I feel comfortable saying, “But there’s food, and there’s people and there’s a burger with a face.”  It’s family… and in the end, that’s what “Forgiveness and Stuff” and Gilmore Girls is all about.

With a passion for theatrics and a flair for the dramatic, Kari is a self-proclaimed TV fanatic and someone who’s not afraid of getting zealously immersed in the fictional lives of her favourite characters.  If the world was a different place, Kari would most likely be found running Stars Hollow’s Dragonfly Inn or climbing her way to the top at Lockhart Gardner or Florrick Agos and Associates. Kari writes all about The Good Wife over at Lockhart Gardner

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2 Responses to “Festive Rewind: Gilmore Girls “Forgiveness and Stuff””

  1. Brandy D. Anderson December 26, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    This was delightful! You’ve made a fellow Gilmore Girl fanatic happy. Cheers!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. TV Rewind: Gilmore Girls, Season 1, Episodes 7-11 | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 3, 2016

    […] a more in-depth look at the Christmas episode “Forgiveness and Stuff” check out this guest post by Kari Peperkorn Marlowe from the TV Ate My Wardrobe “Festive Rewind” […]

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