TV Rewind: Gilmore Girls, Season 2

24 Aug
N.B. Since the Gilmore Girls revival is just around the corner (squee!), we decided to speed up our discussion of the show. Here are our thoughts on the entirety of Season 2.
img_4114-1Emma: So it has been a while since we last talked Gilmore and we return with the rest of season 2 as with the announcement of when all new GG will hit Netflix (November 25) I realized I don’t have a lot of time to catch up on 5 more seasons. Where we cut off last time is actually a good breaking off point (we watched the first four episodes of S2) as it covers the summer of Gilmore and these shows tend to start back with the new school year. Episode 5 is where we return and it also happens to be Rory’s first day back at Chilton and the introduction of another terrible love interest for Rory.

Before I get yelled at regarding Rory’s terrible love interests this opinion might change, but so far I am very eh on Jess. However, he is already better than Dean who I still think is The Worst and his behavior in these episodes does little to alter this title.

All I knew about Jess before his introduction is that he is played by Milo Ventimiglia and that he IRL dated Alexis Bledel. The Luke connection was a surprise and it turns out that Luke’s sister can’t handle her son at the moment so ships him off to Stars Hollow. That is enough to make anyone crabby especially as Luke’s place above the dinner is a studio apartment with not a lot of space for uncle and nephew. It would be fine for a couple, but this is not a great living arrangement. Jess smokes and steals, but I barely get a hint of actual bad boy. It is also posturing, back chatting and taking a beer from Lorelai’s fridge without anything to back it up. On the scale of teen bad boys he barely registers and he’s no Ryan Atwood (who is actually really sweet/from the wrong side of the tracks).img_4074The one thing Jess has going for him is he really likes books and instantly has a connection with Rory based off this (although he pretends to know nothing at first as some kind of flirting dumb boy shtick). Rory is intrigued by him and while things are fine(ish) with Dean to start with when she meets Jess it seems like something else altogether. Their chemistry grows throughout the season and of course I am wondering when they got together IRL.

Not that Jess is the only ‘bad boy’ in her life as Tristan is still around at the start of the season until The WB’s started their next phase in their quest to make Chad Michael Murray happen and “Run Away, Little Boy” marks Tristan’s departure as he gets the classic ‘shipped off to military school’ ending so he can go be terrible on Dawson’s Creek (where I first encountered him). Graduating school to go to college and he somehow sleeps with both Jen and Joey.

“Run Away, Little Boy” actually helps highlight the worst of Dean as he insists on sitting in on Rory’s rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet. This is for a school project, a school Dean doesn’t go to and Rory is Juliet with Tristan being her Romeo. This brings up a lot of old resentments and Rory talks to her mom about whether she should tell Dean about her Tristan kiss. Lorelai is firmly in the no camp as all it will do is cause pain. It doesn’t matter as Tristan tells Dean about that night and it all kicks off. Tristan gets booted before the performance and Paris has to play Romeo just as my notes were crying out for. So long Tristan, we hardly knew/cared about you.

What were your initial impressions of Jess? And did you change your mind as the season went on?img_4102Julie: I was in the same camp as you regarding Jess. I only knew who played him (and even that only because I watched the first season of Heroes and remember the fact that he was on Gilmore Girls was a THING), and that he had dated Rory IRL. Did he also date Hayden Panatierre or however you spell it? Am I remembering that wrong?

Anyway, my biggest memories of early days Jess was that his character felt like such a cliché. He was the “bad” boy who liked poetry. I found that kind of annoying and a little manic pixie dream boy. Without the manic. My feelings about Jess did evolve over time, but I never did feel he was really right for Rory.

I did like his relationship with Luke, though. So much of the early seasons is Luke learning how to deal with other people, so the fact that he ended up having to share his apartment with a high school kid was made for drama. And it also gave him something to talk to Lorelai about (and to fight with her about) because she knows about raising teenagers, though Rory is not your typical teenager.

Dean, yes, is terrible as always. I’ve seen so many “Who’s Rory’s best boyfriend?” posts over the past few months, and I’m inclined to say no one. While Lorelai has had a bevy of worthy suitors (Max, Christopher, Luke, ROON), Rory has had garbage. For the most part. We’ll talk when you get to Logan, whom I had no idea existed until I watched this show myself. It was always Dean and Jess. What about Logan? I’ll be interested to read your thoughts on him.

I do love that season two really started to understand who Rory’s true love interest is, however. We all know that’s Paris.img_4109Emma: Yeah we pretty much knew the same amount about Jess including who he dated IRL (and yep Hayden Panatierre was also on that list) and he definitely feels like a version of a MPDB. Holden Caulfield is definitely his idol and I’m glad he also gets called out for this BS. But Rory of course like his whole version of no one understanding him and he is different enough from Dean to be seen as really interesting. Rory, the writing notes in the pages of your books is an instant cause for dismissal and yet this causes her to moon even more. Dean has always tried to get into the book thing and yet this is not his passion.

I think this is one of my issues with Dean is he always tries to make out that he is a good guy, but he also complains a lot about letting Rory do the things she wants. I also think we’re meant to think Dean is a good guy, but so much of what he does is passive aggressive and the underlying lack of trust/jealousy is pretty much everything that is wrong with the nice guy trope. See also Noel Crane (although I would take Noel over Dean any day). The car accident is a perfect example of this because instead of asking Rory if she is okay after reading her letter he instead double checks that Jess is really gone.

In terms of Rory’s love interests so far it is very much Jess > Dean but urgh it is not much of a competition. I am looking forward to Logan and I only know there is a Logan because he is played by Matt Czuchry of Good Wife fame (to me).img_4093Jess is more palatable with Luke even though a lot of the time he is being a bit of an ass to him, but it does give good back and forths because they are both just as terrible at saying what they feel beyond a few words at a time. I am surprised it took so long for Luke to look for a bigger place for them to live in because this situation looks like a nightmare. Putting a sledge hammer through the wall looks like a lot of fun and it is always enjoyable when Luke goes up against Taylor.

One thing I do find really interesting about this whole dynamic is Lorelai as she digs Dean as a boyfriend choice and is pretty anti-Jess (for good reasons) and it also throws a spanner in the works with Luke. They have minor disagreements and then the BIG disagreement and I can’t believe that we reach the end of this season without so much as a smooch between the pair. LOTS of flirty banter and pretty much everyone around them spelling out what we already know, but this is one hookup that is getting dragged out for all it is worth. To be honest I don’t mind that they haven’t got together yet as it is still relatively early and the whole Christopher stuff is interesting enough. How do you feel about how the whole Christopher thing played out?img_4104Julie: I just realized that Dean reminds me of Scott Eastwood. (I was just reading Lainey during breakfast.) He keeps insisting he’s one thing, when really he’s another. Like, if he tells us enough times that he’s a good dude, that will make it true. The difference between Noel and Dean, I think, is that Noel never tried to hold Felicity (or Hannah) back. He seemed to like being with a smart, driven, talented woman. That’s what drew him to Felicity in the first place. Dean appeared to only like Rory at the beginning because she was cute. And he probably perceived her as a “nice girl,” too.

Okay, Christopher. I love Christopher. I was, like everyone, very Team Luke right from the start, probably because that’s what you’re supposed to be. It’s Luke and Lorelai, not Chris and Lorelai.

But kudos to this show for making Lorelai’s competing love interests (FOR THE MOST PART, foreshadowing future bogus love) so compelling. Max was a delight, and he would’ve been a great choice for her. And there’s just something about Christopher. He’s adorable, first of all, and, while he and Lorelai are a little toxic together because their upbringings are so similar, they get each other. And I think it’s romantic that Rory’s parents could end up together, happily. Christopher doesn’t feel like a concession. He’s not a Paulo or a Julie, filling time until Ross and Rachel can get together. He’s an actual, bonafide alternative to Luke.img_4113But then Sherry comes in and gets all knocked up. That device, at the time, felt very forced, but I think, in future seasons, it ends up working. This show does not drop stuff. Christopher is going to be a full-on dad now, for the second time. And where it goes from here is compelling. It’s too early in the show for Luke and Lorelai to get together, but it’s also, in a lot of ways, too early for her and Christopher as well.

How about the supporting stories? What did you make of Sookie and Jackson?img_4096Emma: The Dean comparison is so spot on and you’re right that Noel didn’t hold his love interests back. He is definitely better than Dean (even if he did stalk Tyra – to this day that storyline still mystifies me).

And I love that you talk about Christopher as more than an almost ran because there is very much a sense that he could be the one for Lorelai, even if Luke is the long term plan. They have so much history and flirty chemistry combined with the whole Rory of it all. The writers also did a good job of drip feeding Christopher and how much time he was spending with them from Rory’s formal introduction into society to the more serious side when she was in the car accident. It was important to re-establish his involvement in their lives beyond just a quick hook up on Lorelai’s old balcony a la old times like in season 1.

We know the heat is there, but the other stuff is just as important and we also know that Christopher can be pretty flaky. Not that his flakiness is all him; he did try and settle down with Lorelai but hey they were 16 and that was too soon. Now he has a Sherry (who I was not a fan of thanks to her “we don’t have to be friends” chat with Lorelai) and things are going great until they’re not. That’s when the big thing and seeming commitment between Lorelai and Chris happens, but then surprise pregnancy alert and he doesn’t want to miss out on being a dad again. Which is understandable but probs terrible in the long run.img_4117Seeing Lorelai so happy and then so crushed in the finale is super sad, but then again I also want her to get with Luke. But also at this point they’re not really talking. Bad times with dudes for Lorelai.

Supporting stories wise I do like Jackson and Sookie, but it’s all pretty much conflict free, which is fine but also makes me less invested. Yes there is the moment where Jackson hints at wanting to move in together and there’s a gender flip with how this pans out but generally they seem pretty solid. I do like the Lorelai/Sookie friendship and I’d like more of that. They had more of an argument to do with Lorelai freaking out about their new inn idea and what has happened with that plan? They have become rather silent on the matter.

The town as a whole still seems equal parts crazy and fun and I am so here for any Luke versus Taylor battle. Any standout town moments for you in season 2?img_4115Julie: I forgot about Noel stalking Tyra! How did this devolve into a Felicity discussion? Everything always comes back to Felicity–and Tyra!

I do love how much the town is fleshed out. It feels like there are so many stories bubbling just below the surface–Gypsy, Kirk, Taylor, Miss Patty. Any time the town has to get together is great for me. And Taylor and Luke are the best frenemies. Taylor is so insufferable, I love it.

I’m also way on board with Lorelai and Sookie opening the inn, but I do kind of get why the subject gets dropped. It feels real–just like how Lorelai’s possible suitors feel real. It’s a big step for the two of them, who are comfortable in their own jobs for the time being. Opening the inn seems like the obvious next step, but I totally see why it would take them a while to pull the trigger.

But Luke and Lorelai do need to kiss already.

Favorite moments? Looking back through the episodes, there weren’t a ton of moments that stuck out for me. I did love Lorelai’s graduation and her parents’ reaction to it. They are really proud of her, deep down. I also love, love, love the idea of the picnic lunch auction. I feel like that could be an entire YA book I should write 🙂

I also liked the Bracebridge dinner, because who doesn’t love a good bottle episode? I would’ve liked some more inappropriate hooking up to have happened, but oh well.

What about you?img_4099Emma: They so need to kiss and just as they get closer something or someone always happens. A lot of my notes when it comes to Luke and Lorelai do just say KISS. It has not worked so far.

They are pretty much a couple as it is, but without the extra fun stuff and I’m glad that everyone in the town can see that they are clearly into each other. The only two people who aren’t willing to totally admit it are Luke and Lorelai. This is why there big argument after the car crash is such a big deal because they have been edging closer and then Jess comes between them. Lorelai has been iffy on Jess since the start and this just supports all her biggest fears and the fact that Luke has been a bit too lackadaisical in delivering any kind of parental discipline doesn’t help.

I wouldn’t say this is a favorite moment as such, but the crash (which we don’t see – budget reasons?) is a huge turning point for Rory and Lorelai. It underscores just how terrible Rory and Dean are as a couple because she clearly is into Jess and Dean is more concerned that Jess has gone than asking if Rory is okay. Rory isn’t completely innocent in all of this, but Dean is still the worst. Also I am so here for Rory showing just how imperfect she can be when it comes to matters of the heart. After all, everyone fucks up sometimes. The writing is on the wall for Dean and Rory from the fact that she doesn’t notice her missing bracelet for two weeks, her spontaneous (and skipping school) trip to NYC (amazing how easily she finds Jess) to kissing Jess at Sookie’s wedding. This doesn’t sound like a relationship that will last.img_4100I also really love the Bracebridge dinner episode and it is the most Stars Hollow bottle episode. It also brings the whole Richard and Emily rift to a head and I think it was really interesting to see such a strong relationship wobble and that it addresses what happens when you retire. Routines are disrupted and Richard questions his worth. I’m also really glad this wasn’t a two episodes and resolved arc. It actually went deep and the best teen shows can handle problems that don’t just relate to the teens. I never considered that they would break up, but it did take these characters to some unexpected places. What did you make of this turn?

Another Emily and Lorelai highlight is their trip to the spa which includes all the ups and downs of an Emily and Lorelai extended hangout. They argue, they have fun and old shit gets brought up. And it always seem fresh and interesting the way they do it.

As you mention the graduation is a highlight (even if Seth MacFarlane plays the worst dude) and underscores so much of what is so compelling about Lorelai and her parents difficult and yet loving dynamic.

There are so many Stars Hollows events and they somehow get even more random as the season progresses, but the picnic is fun and I would definitely read a YA set at something like this.

Any Lane or Paris thoughts? Also any standout early 00s outfits or old references? David Letterman’s stalker, “Anne Heche crazy,” and the Emily the Strange sticker Lane puts on Rory’s cast are ones that spring to mind.

Oh and Kirk’s black and white experimental film starring Mary Lynn Rajskub is AMAZING.img_4111Julie: I do love that the writers don’t make Rory perfect in her romantic choices. It almost seemed like they were going that way from the start–her hooking up with “nice guy” Dean, but she is kind of a mess when it comes to guys, and it gets worse before it gets better, I will say.

She could so easily be a wet blanket goody-goody, but somehow they do manage to give Rory a bit of an edge. I appreciate that.

I love all the Richard and Emily stuff. Shows so often neglect to think about older couples and their evolving relationships, but retirement is such a big step, especially when one partner has been home alone for years and the other has defined himself by his work the whole time. It’s also really interesting to see how it affects Lorelai and, in turn, Rory. I can imagine Lorelai’s position, like, “Crap, I have my own stuff to deal with and now I have to babysit my parents.”img_4107Spa episodes are always great–see 90210 and Designing Women. Throwing women together like that, so vulnerable is great. Also, I adored the scene at the bar and Emily’s reaction to someone thinking she’s still a hot piece. Good for Emily.

The writers never know what to do with Lane. I wish she’d get a better storyline than “I really like this guy, but I know my mom will approve, so no.” Right now she feels like she only exists to serve Rory’s story, and only when necessary. Paris, on the other hand, is a treasure, and actually challenges Rory to be better/try new things.

As far as fashion goes, the spaghetti strapped bridesmaids dress was very close to one I wore around the same time–and never wore again, which was what I was promised!img_4101Emma: Lane does get totally short changed and what was that brief cheerleader moment which has since been dropped?! I get showing that they have grown apart and I’m cool with Lane being a cheerleader, but I can’t imagine Mrs Kim would be thrilled with this and also don’t just forget this was a thing.

And yeah Paris is great as and I love all these socially awkward moments like how she hasn’t had mac and cheese. That whole night with Rory when she flunked (got an A-) a test and covered for Rory by saying she was into Jess was a delight and I’m looking forward to more of this.

The other thing this season has is a wedding and when planning such an event (which is now a month away for me – eek) you can’t help but focus on this stuff when it comes up on a show you have been watching. So slight anxiety because of Sookie’s planning, but also it is fun seeing someone else’s fancy day. In the end the wedding was kind of the set piece for the burgeoning relationships and how they might fall apart. And for Emily to point out a pity invite.img_4077I have definitely done my bridesmaids good – no spaghetti straps and they can definitely wear their dresses again (and not feel bad).

Oh and when Lorelai mentioned she was 32 I paused because that means she is younger than me (at this moment). Minor freak out.

Clothes wise there is the usual mix of bad/slightly baggy jeans and Lorelai animal tees. Also I realised I might be slightly sympathetic to Jess as he wears a lot of similar things to the boys I was friends with in 2001. Like he was in the band Incubus.img_4116Julie: Oh, yeah, that cheerleader thing lasted a minute. They did it for one episode, and that was it. It felt like the writers were throwing stuff at the wall, but that storyline happened not to stick.

I’m not currently in wedding mode, but I do love a good wedding or prom on a TV show to get the drama going–putting all the players in the same place to Make Things Happen. Kind of like a bottle episode. Apparently I’m a sucker for forced social interactions.

Off GG topic, but I based my bridesmaids’ dresses on Liza Minelli’s wedding to David Gest. I let them all pick whatever black dress they wanted. It was like a fashion show. Not sure if any of them ever wore the dress again, but that was on them, not me.

 

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

Hi, there! Like Julie’s writing? Buy her new YA novel, THE SOUND OF US, right here!

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