Julie: This is, I think, the best season of Gilmore Girls. Maybe. They’re all good. Who am I kidding? But season four is extraordinarily good. A big part of that is because both girls are thrown so far out of their comfort zones. Lorelai is finally realizing her dream of owning an inn. And Rory is starting college.
I know that the BIG THING happens at the end of the season, but I want to start off talking about Rory, who is now a freshman at Yale. I love how they handle her progression from sheltered high schooler to slightly less sheltered college student. She doesn’t get to school and immediately start partying and hooking up with random guys. She’s still Rory. She’s more interested in taking a full course load than being social.
And she struggles with the social, if quietly. While Paris is out there stringing along one boyfriend while hooking up with an elderly professor, Rory is keeping to herself a bit. She tries and fails to go on a date and ask out a guy. She strikes out on spring break. She seems to me a little overwhelmed by the process of dating.And I think that’s why she inevitably starts chatting up Dean again. (Ugh.) Dean’s a known quantity. Dean is safe. Yeah, Dean is married, but he’s still RORY’S DEAN. (Double ugh.)
There’s a brief almost-dalliance with Jess, which actually feels reasonable in the face of (ugh) hooking up with Dean again, but Rory holds her own against Jess–telling him to get out of her life, while completely letting Dean into both her life and her pants.
I was totally thrown (and grossed out) by Rory losing her virginity to Dean. I actually thought maybe she and Jess were going to hook up in the penultimate episode, when he came to her dorm room and she let him in. I thought we were in for some angry-passionate hooking up there, but no. She stood her ground and kicked him out. And, to Jess’s credit, he left.
But then Dean. DEAN! He (ew, what?) followed her back to her mom’s house, where she was picking up CDs, and then (ew) boning. And then, even more ew, she expected her mom to be happy about the situation, which Lorelai was NOT. Because her daughter is now an adulteress. For Dean. DEAN. Ew.
I think you can tell where I stand on this, though as much as I hate Dean and Rory with Dean, I love that the show makes her such a moron when it comes to romance. She’s a bad decision machine in the love department. Very book smart, but horrible at picking guys.
How do you feel about what Rory got up to this season?Emma: It’s funny because this is the season that took a few episodes to click with me and I don’t know if that is because I started it just before my wedding and so maybe I was in a distracted head space, but post-honeymoon it all fell into place and I have enjoyed the hell out of this season even with the terrible Rory romantic decision.
I agree with you that taking both Rory and Lorelai out of their comfort zones is a big plus and it keeps everything fresh. Even though Yale is a short drive from Stars Hollow, Rory still has to try new things and she stumbles at times. Part of this is the amount of pressure she puts on herself academically and it is heartbreaking when she has her big spiral while Lorelai is also having her own moment of self-doubt. It doesn’t help that they are playing a game of phone tag and communicating via voicemail, but story wise it is important to show them coping without each other no matter how ineffective it might be. And then the fact that both lie to the other about how fine everything is.
Season 3 ended with a strong non-guy focus and for the majority of season 4 Rory doesn’t have a whole lot going on in that department (as she keeps getting reminded of). There have been a couple of awkward potentials including the preppy guy she wasn’t into and Smith Laundry Room guy who declines her coffee invitation and who she then thinks is spreading stories about how into him she is. Then there is Marty, the guy who passed out naked in her corridor after a party, the dude her grandmother sets her up with and that leads her back to a guy from her past. Jess pops in and out declaring his love and it is no wonder that she tells him to leave. I also half figured they might hook up and I actually thought the Dean thing was going to happen sooner than it did.
Urgh, the Dean thing. Why Rory? Well I know why and he represents everything that is familiar and predictable even though he is married. Not to mention that Dean should never have got married in the first place; especially when he is drunkenly mumbling Rory’s name the night before causing Luke to tell Rory not to go to the wedding (which looks straight out of the late 70s).Part of me wondered if they would go the Felicity route where her first time is with someone who isn’t a main love interest and I love that approach, but alas it had to be Dean because even though there are so many similarities between Rory and Felicity, Rory is far more reserved/cautious in the love department. Dean continues to be the worst in every way possible and that isn’t even factoring in his terrible facial hair this season. I’m actually pleased both Dean and Jess had such reduced roles this year as we get to see Rory in the full throws of her college experience including her job at the paper and navigating roommate drama. This also felt like the most balanced we have seen Rory’s friendships with both Paris and Lane, part of this comes from both these characters getting their own stuff to do and not just being there to service Rory as a character.
So let’s get into that final discussion between Lorelai and Rory. Was Lorelai overreacting or saying the exact thing Rory needed to hear in that moment?Julie: That final conversation was HEARTBREAKING for me. Especially looking at it from the mother’s perspective. Lorelai has done such a good job of raising Rory (that hasn’t changed), and I am assuming a big part of her figured she wouldn’t have to worry about Rory making dumb decisions like this. And this decision was so, so dumb. It forces Lorelai to see her daughter differently, and to see Dean differently. And the fact that Rory doesn’t automatically see what a brazenly stupid decision this was makes it that much worse.
That said, I still continue to love that the writers have no problem making Rory not perfect. She gets good grades and she does the right thing, except when it comes to her love life (a theme that continues through the rest of the show…)
I suppose it was inevitable that Rory would do something rash like this. She went on spring break and watched documentaries. The most scandalous thing she did was let her friend drunk dial Dean (Danger! Danger!). She kicked Jess out of her dorm room before making that mistake. She didn’t get in the drunk car with her grandmother’s friend. She made all the “good” decisions, except for this one thing with Dean, which was a doozy.But enough about Dean. Let’s talk about something nice for a change–Luke and Lorelai and their LOVE. OMG.
I had always assumed that they’d just have a moment where they kiss out of nowhere or something, so I was surprised by how this played out. Luke saw her face while listening to a self-help date, and instead of being upfront with her, he asked her to his sister’s wedding. It was such a Luke move–asking her to the wedding, and then out on another date, without ever discussing what was going on. I loved that Lorelai had to stop and put it all together–is she dating Luke?
And the steps leading up to the OMG first kiss, were so lovely. The dance! Her admitting that maybe the best part of the wedding was the dance!
The kiss itself gave me chills, both the first time and rewatching it. Too bad it had to be spoiled, first by Kirk, then by DEAN.
What did you think about the kiss?Emma: I figured when Lorelai came home she was going to walk in on the act, not the after but the one they went for was so much better because it is all about Rory doing something spontaneous. In Rory’s mind Dean is still the guy who was her first boyfriend and she feels like she has some sense of ownership in the very pre-school argument of ‘he was mine first.’ This is her justification for the sleeping with a married guy thing and it does not withstand Lorelai’s questions. It’s a real heartbreaker and no matter how much I dislike Dean (and that is a lot) it is still really shitty that this huge thing happened for Rory and it is instantly tainted. But I guess Rory made (and unmade) that particularly bed.
One thing I also want to say before I comment on the romantic thing at the opposite end of this romance spectrum and one issue is how underwritten Lindsay is. The actress playing her is someone who I thought was excellent on an all too brief stint on The Vampire Diaries; super charming and instantly likable. Lindsay is none of these things and is pretty much there to act like the kind of wife Dean was talking about wanting. Except he doesn’t and all they do is bicker or she brings him lunch at the inn. It is also weird that she doesn’t have a job so points to Rory for pointing that out.Moving on to the thing that I was hoping would FINALLY happen this season and it did! The Luke and Lorelai will they/won’t they dance included an actual dance (which was a season highlight for me) and there’s been a lot of their usual back and forth banter, arguments about significant others (urgh Nicole) and being there for each other in their time of need. It is kinda cute how Luke finally realized how he actually feels and I really like how they ended up getting to this inevitable place.
TV first kisses between will they/won’t they couples are an important milestone and they nail this one. It is full of heat and it makes so much sense that it comes in the middle of this half kind of argument of ‘what the hell is going on between us?’ In true Lorelai fashion another one of her love interests threatens to ruin this early stage and we’ve seen it before with Christopher. Christopher always has a habit of showing up at the wrong time. This time it is Jason who is back to win Lorelai’s heart and while he is another to add to the great Lorelai boyfriends list – unlike Rory, Lorelai gets the interesting guys – he’s no Luke. Thankfully he needs to go to the bathroom and Luke takes this moment to ask what the hell is going on?
Yes Kirk runs through naked and screaming, but I was concerned that either Jason would interrupt or Kirk would before the kiss happened. And we got not one, but two! And I’m so glad they both got to initiate. So kudos Gilmore Girls writers, you made us wait four years but you stuck the landing. The chemistry between Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson is off the charts here.
What did you make of Jason?Julie: I suppose underwriting Lindsay was a way to justify what Rory did? If we knew her better and sympathized with her more, Rory hooking up with Dean would be unforgivable. That said, I did ache for her. She was TRYING with Dean. She wasn’t working (which was problematic, especially because it would’ve given her something else to with her brain), but she was trying to make her home life with Dean as nice as possible. It didn’t work.
As far as Digger goes, he was a (another) decent guy for Lorelai. He was funny and smart and just as bitter about their rich upbringing as she is. One thing I find so interesting about this show–and both women’s relationships–is how underplayed the notion of “soul mate” is. I think we all believe that Luke is her OTP, but absent him, I could see her ending up with Christopher, Max, or Jason. Maybe that’s a testament to how adaptable and cool Lorelai is, or maybe it’s just a realistic portrayal of how the world is. Things didn’t work out with the other guys because the timing wasn’t right (or because he decided to sue her parents), and who knows how things will work out with Luke. They seem perfect together, but they’re not perfect people.
And Rory, too, if she had stayed with Dean, her life would go one way; with Jess, another.
Speaking of soulmates, we were also treated to Paris’s relationship with Basil Exposition. What did you think about her hooking up with a professor, an OLD professor?Emma: Let’s start with a game of F/M/K with Lorelai’s non-Luke main love interests? So Christopher, Max and Jason .
It was clear that Jason would be sticking around because the actor was in the opening credits and this brings me to why I love these very traditional credits as I love spotting whom has been upgraded to a regular and what new snapshots from the series are added each year and which ones are irreplaceable (the S1 birthday hug for example).
When he was introduced as a business partner for Richard I was a bit eh on him, but as soon as he interacted with Lorelai the spark sad instant and it became obvious why he might be the kind of dude she might end up with. As you mention they are from the same world and they both have fractious relationships with their parents. He has a cute dog, a sleep issue that means Lorelai gets to spend the night in a guest room full of everything you could ever want (although the TV bed combo is super ugly), he cooks breakfast and he’s a lot of fun. He does have a lot of slightly oversized cream sweaters that he should probably trade in.
Of course there is a time limit on this relationship and I wonder what it is a like as an actor to get a main credits part, but know that it won’t be for the duration of the show?
Jason is at least more developed than Nicole and it really makes no sense for Luke to get back with her other than to give him someone who isn’t Lorelai for a portion of the season. The brief amount of time they are happy is basically a set up for a Luke/Lorelai argument when Luke moves in with Nicole and doesn’t tell Lorelai. It goes south fast because of course and the divorce is a done thing leaving the door wide open.Ahh yes the professor and Paris is definitely one for going all in even if this means that Jamie gets brutally dumped on his birthday. Rory getting Lorelai to guess the age was fun, but I was generally a bit eh on this storyline and I think Paris deserves more. The best of Paris occurred during the spring break episode and we got our Rory/Paris OTP moment. The episode where he has his health scare was well played as was Rory’s concern that she got a great grade because of who her roommate is.
One other relationship was a bit of roller coaster this season and that was Richard and Emily as business and other skeletons threaten this seemingly rocksteady union. Was this a surprise for you?Julie: Ha! F/M/K — This is actually tough! I would fuck Max, marry Luke, and kill Jason. No offense, Jason. I actually considered marrying him because he has a lot of fun toys, but then I’d have to kill either Max or Luke, and I don’t want to do that. I wonder if they thought Jason might stick around longer, but just as Richard’s business partner. Obviously, he and Lorelai couldn’t stay together forever, but I wonder if the writers didn’t go into this with the intention of keeping him around as an ex, like Chris. I could’ve seen them going either way with this, but I like where they took the story instead, making Richard kind of a, well, dick.
Since the less said about Nicole the better (and, yeah, Paris needs something new to do). Since I just mentioned Richard, I think the time is right to talk about his relationship with Emily. This stuff was rough and sad, but also completely emotionally compelling. Emily has always been the dutiful wife and that status was challenged this year–with Jason running the social business stuff differently that she would have and with Trix kicking the bucket and Emily finding out that she tried to get Richard to leave her. Emily needs some time to herself, I think, to figure out who she is outside of Richard. And Richard needs to learn to appreciate what Emily does for him and who she is to him.
I thought it was really interesting watching them try to keep the split from Rory and Lorelai. That felt completely real, and also marked the first time they were absent for Friday night dinner. They were just too distracted. And I liked Lorelai trying to Parent Trap them back together — because as frustrating as she finds them, she doesn’t want her mom and dad to split up. The fact that this all comes to a head at the opening of the inn was perfect.
How did you feel about Richard and Emily?Emma: If we take Luke out of the F/M/K it becomes harder and I *think* I would marry Jason, fuck Max and kill Christopher. Sorry for killing your dad, Rory. As you pointed out, Jason does have the best toys, Max has the heat and Christopher is totally unreliable.
When Richard first laid out the plan I figured he was double crossing Jason’s dad and the whole screwing over Jason was a ruse. Alas, Richard was just being a business dick and in part it feels like a way to clear the path for Luke while also showing the rare non friendly side of Richard. It is a side of Richard we have seen before and it is always so jarring as Emily is normally the schemer.
I found the whole Emily/Richard marriage problems to be really upsetting because they seem like a forever couple, but I also love that they went down this path. Emily is feeling at a loss for a couple of reasons this season; there’s the whole Trix letter and this spiral is so wonderfully carefree. The image of Emily day drinking, smoking and reading a romance novel while sprawled on the couch in her night gown is a Top 5 Emily moment for me (and also my current Twitter cover photo). It’s the most un-Emily while being the most Emily and she’s so unbothered about helping arrange the funereal leaving it all to Lorelai as Richard has also fallen apart.Richard is a mess because his last conversation with Trix was one that involved a whole lot of shouting and for all the shit Trix has said over dinner it took money and the insinuation that he is kind of a failure to prompt an outburst. I also love that they recast Marion from Happy Days as Trix’s cousin (even if I had to check IMDb to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind).
The real Emily/Richard issue stems from his job and this is the reason for their last period of unhappiness. This time Richard is working too much and rather than being angry that he is being forced out, Emily’s concern comes from his new partnership (later followed by his return to his old firm) and that she is becoming obsolete. Her role as party planner is no longer needed and she’s got to reassess everything. This spirals into a crazy shopping spree and a wonderful scene where Lorelai and Rory take Emily to the mall food court.
And much like the last time they fell out Lorelai uses the inn to get them back together. It worked the last time but right now they are too far gone for a simple trick. I like that there is no simple solution and Lorelai can’t just movie magic this relationship back together.
Let’s talk style and oh the mid ’00s continue to deliver on things I hope never come back including Juicy sweatpants (much to Emily’s horror), a weird take on Cher from Clueless style, bad jeans and a look that is very Rachel Green. These are a few of Lorelai’s big hits and Rory mostly stays safe in a look that is very a Felicity Porter. So many sweaters.
I know Emily has her issues, but I’d love for her to be my mom for a day, just so we could go shopping together and she could buy me all the things. I’d accept every handbag happily, Emily!
I know I had a few stashed in my mind for the fashion segment, but things are starting to get mixed up with Season 5, since I’m currently rewatching that. I loved Rory’s one-piece bathing suit and how her mom busted her balls about it. Rory is so delightfully young and modest.
Speaking of spring break, about as sexy and wild as she got, clothes-wise, was her off-the-shoulder shirt. I definitely had her boucle sweater (I’m guessing it was from J. Crew), but in…I think pink. I also had that big turtleneck Paris’ is wearing. Oh, and the turtleneck behind the girls.
As far as Lorelai goes, her pink coat is always everything. I thought she looked perfect in the dress and floral crown at Liz’s wedding. Emma: That wedding look is a top Lorelai moment and it very much suited the whole burgeoning romance vibe. And it is nice to see a flower crown before music festivals ruined them for everyone. Otherwise I just wanted to mention a couple of now very familiar faces. First up Rami Malek and he is in Lane’s study group/the most adorable. Oh and while we’re on the subject of Lane, she finally revealed her true self to her mother or rather staying out all night caused Mrs Kim to go through her stuff and Lane moved out. Dave is of course gone because Adam Brody is on The OC now and the college reason is a good one to write him out. Although I don’t think they needed to do the long distance thing as it was obviously not going to stick. The marriage pot plot was a fun one and I love that Mrs Kim made up a story that Lane has held onto for so long that isn’t even a thing.The Lane/Mrs Kim relationship is an interesting one as it is the complete opposite of Lorelai and Rory and for a moment I thought Mrs Kim was going to be fine with Lane’s dropping out of college demands. I don’t know why I thought that and really Lane has committed the ultimate betrayal. Not because of the things she is into, but because of how long she has kept it secret. Anyway it made me sad, but also I am glad Lane can be Lane. And they got a Dave replacement who looks like he should be in a Bon Jovi tribute band and he is also a delight.
The other familiar face popped up during Dean’s very terrible bachelor party – oh hey Max Greenfield! He did not have many lines and we did not see him again. Also in this group is Kyle and he was one of the bullies in Freaks and Geeks. I only realized this when I was watching the Halloween episode for this piece.
Every teen show is connected. Emma (again): I also meant to ask if you have watched the new Gilmore trailer? I haven’t and it has been hard not to click on EVERY link popping up on my TL. I am very excited about these new episodes (even without having finished the earlier seasons yet).The other thing I wanted to quickly mention was my trip to Luke’s on my last day in New York. A friend sent me a link of all the locations and one happened to be opposite The Strand. We were already going to be heading down there in the morning so I could get my final book haul from the trip (including Phoebe Robinson’s excellent “You Can’t Touch My Hair,” which came out the day before). The queue wasn’t too bad and it was a glorious sunny fall day; the perfect kind where the air is crisp but you don’t need more than a sweater. I got interviewed for NY1 but hopefully I was so dull it didn’t make it to air. And anyway I guess it is mostly people in hotels (like myself) that watch that channel.It was fun seeing the staff in the very Luke attire of plaid shirts and backwards caps and it was a fun, but pretty low key atmosphere. We got a couple of coffees and went to Union Square to sit in the sunshine. The rest of the day before we had to go back to The Jane to collect our luggage involved a little bit more shopping, one final trip to Joe’s for a slice, lots more walking (and we managed to crack 100 miles walked in 7 days) ). It was a very good ending to an amazing honeymoon.Emma (again, again): This is also where I pull a Columbo with a ‘just one more thing.’
Did the internet suddenly go off in 2004 because it is mentioned A LOT as a BIG thing. A thing to do your shopping on, look things up etc. Richard gets wifi (and this does seem early as I had dial up for at least a few years after this). I noted down every time someone mentioned that they used the internet or suggested it to another character and it stuck out. As did everyone finally having cell phones with pagers almost fading into oblivion (other than the one Lorelai was given for when Sookie went into labor). It is funny seeing such a big change in tech and how much has changed in 12 years.Julie: I have watched the GG trailer, and I may have cried. I’m so excited. That’s going to be my Thanksgiving weekend, for sure.
I forgot about the Rami Malek sighting. He plays such a cute dork. And I totally missed Max Greenfield this time around (probably because I was watching the show while cooking or something). And the Dave replacement is Sebastian Bach, of Skid Row fame. I love him on the show, actually. His rocker/family man/sandwich store owner schtick is perfect for the small town vibe.
I’m so jealous you went to Luke’s! I could’ve been proactive and taken my ass to a neighborhood here where one had popped up, but I was lazy. You’re lucky that the Lukening happened while you were in New York. And your husband is definitely A+ for indulging this 🙂
The internet stuff was all over the place, which I thought was fitting. Richard and Emily (thanks to Jason) are just getting started on wi-fi, which feels right. I think they may have been slightly ahead of the times–trying to remember where I was and my computer situation at that time.
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