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Gilmore Girls excels when it goes back to focusing on family

Illustration for article titled Gilmore Girls excels when it goes back to focusing on family
Screenshot: Gilmore Girls. Below photo: Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA/Getty Images

“I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia,” season seven, episode 13, originally aired 2/6/2007 


Nowwww, we’re talking. It only takes one fight and one family crisis for Christopher to reveal his truly wormlike, whiny-man self. “I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia” is the best episode in a while because it’s Gilmore-focused: I could watch Emily Gilmore in a manic state all day. In general, I think this show just needs more Emily Gilmore.

From her freakouts to the various hospital staff members, to her track suit, to her rant against her club for not finding her earlier, as always, Emily is magnificent. She particularly stands out in comparison to the petulance of Lorelai, trapped in what is basically a bottle episode that takes place in a hospital. Guess what, Lorelai? It’s not about you. This week in Gilmore entitlement: Lorelai’s rant against her mother in the gift shop annoys me to no end. When your father is in the hospital, you don’t worry about you, you worry about him, and your mother. If she needs to get the living will, she gets the living will. And when Emily admits that she’s only doing all of this furious busywork because it’s the only thing she knows how to do while faced with losing her husband, Lorelai doesn’t even offer an apology! In fact, Emily says “I’m sorry,” but she does not! Man, that bugs. New least-favorite Lorelai moment, for the record. But wow, is Kelly Bishop amazing as she opens up Emily for a rare look at her vulnerability. Just incredible.

“Philadelphia” offers us some valuable life lessons here: Basically, do not be the person who freaks out in a hospital. Be the person who is there for people and gets things done. Luke and Logan are both exemplary in this regard: Cars have to be picked up, fish men have to be paid.

Christopher, naturally gets a big fat F. When he does finally show up, he’s too busy being a shitheel about the fact that Luke is there: delivering food, for God’s sake. When times get tough, you find out what everyone is made of, and I think Christopher basically killed the relationship in “Philadelphia”: Lorelai knows she can’t count on him, just like all those years when he wasn’t around for her and Rory.

“Farewell, My Pet,” season seven, episode 14, originally aired 2/13/2007 

Kind of an inconsequential episode, seeing as it focuses on a pet funeral. Which frankly, Lorelai and Sookie could have been a little nicer about. But it’s worth it for the Lorelai and Christopher breakup, which I have been angling for for several weeks now.


I feel like Rory’s weird one-episode crush on her T.A. was meant to show that her relationship is much more mature than the one her parents have: She and Logan have a talk about her attraction to another guy, while Christopher pouts and sulks over the fact that Luke Danes is still walking the planet.

The whole thing is almost worth it for Lorelai’s scalding: “You know what the worst part of it was? When you weren’t there, part of me wasn’t surprised.” Ouch, man. When someone delivers a smackdown like that, it’s time to take a serious look at your life choices. Naturally, Christopher responds by stamping his foot and saying “That’s not fair!” (Okay, he doesn’t actually stamp his foot.)


Also exemplary: That breakup scene. Lauren Graham always totally brings it when the occasion calls for it. She’s so effectively emotional in the scene that she almost made me feel bad for Chris, which is saying something, as she says through tears: “I need you to know you’re the man I want to want. You have no idea how badly I wish…”

When something’s not right, it isn’t. I’m a little torn about how quickly the relationship dissolves: If you’re with someone a long time, don’t you sometimes wonder why you’re with this person in the first place? Or have days when you feel that it’s just not right? (I say this as my husband and I prepare to go out tonight to celebrate our 14th anniversary.) Marriage is going to have its ups and downs, which what Lorelai seems to be stressing in L&C conversation #2 this episode (#1 is a fight, #3 is the breakup). But when Chris says that he doesn’t think that things can work out, and seems ready to cave, Lorelai realizes that she can’t fix the relationship all by herself. It’s a losing battle, but at least she’s not wasting any more time on it. Thank God.


Stray observations

  • I will always take “color me impressed” as a Replacements shout-out. See also: Heathers.
  • Christopher in a nutshell: “You’re giving up?” “I don’t know what else to do.” “There’s lots else to do.”
  • Rory asks a potent question at the beginning of “Pet”: “Haven’t you ever decided something and changed your mind?” Like getting married, say?
  • Best Gilmore Girls outfit: Yes, commenter Janet, I knew exactly what dress you were talking about as soon as I saw it. And fortunately, Lorelai wears the black dress with floral trim with purple tights and cute black Mary Janes for most of “Farewell, My Pet.”
  • Zach’s acoustic performance of “My Heart Will Go On” may be the only time I’ve liked that song.
  • Dr. Goldstein is played by Austin Tichenor, who I actually know in person! His wife runs a storytelling group I’m in in Chicago. He’s a very lovely person who is also a Shakespearean actor who just wrote a Shakespeare pop-up book. So I asked him if he had any memories of being on set that day, and he graciously responded: “Only that everybody was delightful on set. Kelly Bishop was particularly gracious: It’s always tricky for a guest star to step into a well-oiled machine like that, particularly when the style calls for many words spoken very quickly. We had a long walk-and-talk down several corridors, and I had most of the lines. On one take I stumbled over my words, which means we had to cut and everybody—50? 100? cast and crew and extras—all had to go ‘back to one, everybody!’ As we walked back to our starting positions, Kelly put her arm in mine and said, ‘Don’t worry, that’s happened to all of us.’ She couldn’t have been more lovely. My only regret is that I didn’t get to meet Edward Herrmann, whose character I saved! I’d loved him (of course) as FDR, but also marveled at his performances on pivotal episodes of M*A*S*H and St. Elsewhere.
    See, I knew Emily Gilmore was the best. And that concludes probably my closest connection to the Gilmore Girls set in real life. Thank you, Austin!
  • So long and good riddance, Christopher. See you at Rory’s graduation.
  • Next week: More Emily, yay. And, Paris does yoga.
  • In memoriam of Lor & Chris’ marriage, here’s a terrible Christopher moment, and one of Emily’s best ones, from one of my favorite episodes actually, season three’s “Haunted Leg.” How Lorelai ever thought things could actually work out with a guy with this kind of thought process is beyond me:

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.