Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inexplicable Gilmore Girls Review: Rory’s Two Horrible Boyfriends and Horrible Stars Hollow

Warning: Spoilers follow for some episodes of the hit new original show Gilmore Girls, specifically the end of season two.

I am now through two seasons of Gilmore Girls, and some of my basic opinions have not changed. The two biggest and most controversial – That both of Rory’s boyfriend options are horrible, and that Stars Hollow is so stupid and unbelievable too much of the time. Tackling them in order…

As season two goes along, it becomes increasingly clear to the audience that Dean and Rory are going to break-up. Beyond Rory’s dalliances with Jess, pretty much every scene she shares with Dean is “ugh.” He’s kind of presented as a concrete, dull thinker, and while there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, he’s ill-equipped to deal with the machine gun thought fire provided by a Gilmore girl.

Worse to me, there is a weird, aggressive undercurrent to a lot of Dean’s interactions with Rory. When she’s in a cast and telling him about wrecking the car, via a letter, he seems thisclose to hitting her. Instead, he kicks a cooler. I don’t know if they were going to do an actual domestic violence angle at one point and then just decided that was (justifiably) a bad idea, or if there simply isn’t enough breathing room in the show’s runtime to give Dean more of a personality.

So, with Dean kind of a dud, we are left with Rory obviously falling for Jess. He’s dreamy and mysterious, but he’s also safe in a TV sort of way. Only on TV can the teen menace that his absentee mom has foisted on her brother to take care of have a thing for Faulkner and Russian literature! It kind of reminds me of Patton Oswalt’s bit about romantic comedies. (Warning: Definitely NSFW.) Jess is the male, sanitized TV version of a rebel teen.

Jess is so whatever to me, obviously. Maybe I’m just prematurely annoyed because I’m imagining that this Jess-Rory drama is going to stretch out for years. It’s like how I’m annoyed about the 2020 election and it’s still four years away, but I can see it looming on the horizon.

Dean and Jess are both poor choices for Rory, and the only correct choice is Paris. She and Rory are more amusing and have more chemistry together than all of Rory’s dudes. However, I imagine that if Gilmore Girls had a same sex relationship involving one of its leads, I would have heard about it by now. Plus, you know, it’s not like Rory has expressed an interest in dating ladies either.

The other horrible aspect of the show continues to be Stars Hollow. I’ve watched a few episodes into season three, so unfortunately, I know this doesn’t get any better either. Almost everyone in the town is a ridiculous caricature that completely ruins the flow of the show for me. The more time we spend in Stars Hollow, the less time there is at school with Paris, Madeline and Louise, or at the Gilmore mansion with the third Gilmore girl.

Kurt occasionally makes me chuckle, and Luke is mostly OK, because he’s usually presented as the Only Sane Man of the town. (Heck, he’s even listed without comment on the TV Tropes page for live action.) Taylor is the absolute fucking worst. I realize he’s supposed to be annoying, but he has “go away” heat with me. Every plot he’s involved in is farcical and stupid, and causes me to lose intelligence points.

Other random notes:

- Paris is still completely baller, but don’t sleep on Louise or Madeline either. One unfortunate thing that happened as season two continued and they focused more on the town was that we got less of the bit players from school.

- Lane is riiiiighttt on the border between annoying and enjoyable. She’s usually pleasant enough, but her mom is probably the second-biggest unbelievable character behind Taylor, and she tends to dominate most of the Lane storylines. The show is set in the 2000s, not 1960, and the “oh she’s a strict Korean!” thing only goes so far with me. If she’s so god damn strict, why are they in America? Why not actually send Lane back to Korea? Her behavior is farcical, when it would have been easy to just dial it down a smidge and have it be much more believable.

- I continue to over-analyze the background elements of the show, which continues to annoy Karen. The newspaper parts especially amuse me, as someone who works for a newspaper and has ran a high school newspaper. Paris regularly seems to be calling staff meetings and ordering the kids around on her own, which is usually a pretty big no-no at most high schools. Occasionally, there is a female teacher sitting in on the meetings, and she also seems to run the debate team, but Google can’t even help me determine who it is.

My other favorite background aspect – the signboards and prices at various shops. Taylor’s grocery store is always having a sale on carrots, and Luke’s special omelet does make it on to the “specials” board, in a nice bit of continuity.

- Season two ends with Jackson and Sookie getting married, although for some weird reason, we don’t actually get to see them say “I do” on camera. Why Gilmore Girls, whhhyyyy? These are two of the more amusing side characters, and they have a sweet romance that’s catalogued on the show. If you wanted to end the episode on the “shocker” of Rory kissing Jess, that’s easy to do – have them do it after the ceremony is over.

- The subtle rebuilding of the relationship between Lorelai and Emily, and Lorelai and Richard by extension, is good. It’s slow and gradual, which feels more realistic. That’s also why it feels so jarring to me to have everyone in Stars Hallow playing things up to 11. The episode where Lorelai briefly becomes Richard’s secretary, and where he thrives in opening his new consulting business, is a really good one.

Anyway! I’m now getting into season three. In order to burn through the episodes before the new ones release at the end of the month, Karen and I are watching them separately. As a result, you can probably expect more Gilmore Girls posts than normal. And, sorry if you were really hoping I’d have belated takes on Luke Cage and The Next Generation, which have been pushed down my priority list as a result.

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