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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Why did Gilmore Girls’ Lane and Zack get such a raw deal?

Above screenshot: Gilmore Girls. Below photo: Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA/Getty Images
Above screenshot: Gilmore Girls. Below photo: Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA/Getty Images
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“Jews And Chinese Food,” season five, episode 15, originally aired 2/15/2005 

After the one-two punch of last week, “Jews And Chinese Food” and “So… Good Talk” set out to right what is misaligned in the Gilmore world. They do so by highlighting Luke’s side of the story. He may be a man of few romantic words besides “I’m all in,” but his anguish over the loss of Lorelai is clear as soon as he signs up to make the sets for the elementary-school production of Fiddler On The Roof. In classic Luke passive-aggressive-aggressive fashion, he rails against the shoddy costumery, sneaks out his boat, and forcibly alienates all of his customers (except for Kirk, of course), so lost is he without Lorelai, and it takes a stern talking-to from Emily to get through to his lunky head.

But the child production of Fiddler is appropriately cute, so much so that even Kirk’s seemingly inappropriate duet with a miniature Golda, doing her best impression of Annie on Broadway, is sweet, underlining the rift between Luke and Lorelai. Luke obviously enjoys the song, musing on what that kind of lifelong love would look like; Lorelai is distressed, thinking of all the years she’ll miss with Luke. Before that, their garage fight only underlines what dynamite chemistry these two have always had/will have, and how they’re obviously meant to be together. Turns out “written in the stars” isn’t just an episode title, as the destiny of Luke and Lorelai will have a long life after a few season six and seven bumps, but their separation in this episode highlights how wrong everything feels when they’re apart. After having those few happy, picture-perfect episodes, we are as distraught as Luke (anger) and Lorelai (sad) with this asymmetrical universe in which they’re not together.

In other news, Rory loses the only friend she has at college that she didn’t go to prep school with and isn’t in the Life And Death Brigade. It’s almost embarrassing how much she pushes Marty and how clueless she seems to be about his obvious crush. What’s worse is that she knows the LADB is shitty to Marty without fail; that’s how she first met them, after all. Seems Finn is always drunk, but Colin is the one who’s a straight-up snob, and Logan keeps up his vague, condescending smarminess. It’s even more painful when we see how easily everything comes for Logan—money, girls, friends—when poor Marty only has $18 in his bank account and has a separate catering job on top of everything else. The LADB-besotted Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote this episode, which is the only explanation for how Logan appears to be the catch in this scenario, and Marty gets the shaft, as Rory picks Logan over him in about a nanosecond. So long Marty! See you in season seven when you turn into an unfortunate weirdo! Nobody should still be hung up on Rory when they’re dating Jessica Jones.


“So… Good Talk,” season five, episode 16, originally aired 2/22/2005 

Fortunately, this particular Luke/Lorelai misalignment is righted almost straightaway, once Emily realizes that she messed up and has not one but two Gilmore girls mad at her. Richard deserves to be the favorite here, enjoying Sookie’s scones and fixing Lorelai’s insurance policy. In classic L/L fashion, their reconciliation is wordless, based on that undeniable chemistry, making the episode title (even though Lorelai utters the phrase earlier) a nice ironic bit of wordplay.

Much as I would love to discuss the incongruity of Emily and Kirk sitting next to each other at Luke’s diner until the end of time, I have to admit I had forgotten about the horrible descent of Lane and Zack’s relationship that begins here. Nearly everything about them has been so adorable up until this point—even Zack being charmed by Lane trying to save him from Luke’s diner wrath—I just can’t figure out why the powers that be would make the pair celibate before marriage. Since perfect Rory was off to such a happy, healthy sex life (as indicated by Logan’s bedroom window visit in the previous episode), did Lane have to take the fall? And jumping ahead to the pair’s marriage, and painful honeymoon sex, and the fact that they get pregnant right away: It’s such an unfortunate turn of events for two characters who are so charming together. They deserved so much better. I’m with Lane: Go gluten-free if you need to, but have the sex if you want to, 20-year-olds.

Unfortunate anti-sex decisions aside, this episode is a rare one-hit wonder in the GG writers’ stable: Lisa Randolph went on to such disparate shows like The Shield and Reign, but her mastery of all the Star Is Borns and cute Logan/Rory banter (with Rory betting “all the money in my purse, and a million dollars”) makes me wish she could have chimed in a bit on later seasons as well. Just Lorelai’s frequent hangups on Emily make this one worth watching.


Stray observations

  • Worst Gilmore Girls outfits: For some reason, all of Lulu’s outfits at the school play are bananas. Striped crocheted dress under purple patterned blazer? Green patterned blazer over beige patterned dress with strange turquoise ribbon around the neck? I guess her weird wardrobe is supposed to indicate why she’s a good match for Kirk?
  • Best Gilmore Girls outfit: Lorelei’s velvet blazer and jeans for her night out with Sookie.
  • Special Gilmore Girls guest-star: That’s Another Period’s Riki Lindhome as Juliet, the girl who can only admire watching Rory eat.
  • Judy Garland losing the Oscar for A Star Is Born remains a goddamn Academy Award tragedy.
  • Classic Doyle delivery: “Paris, I beg you.” ASP writes Paris dialogue like no one else.
  • Next week: Two crap episodes, if we’re being honest here, involving Tarantino knockoffs and dioramas. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Maybe watch “Deep-fried Korean Thanksgiving” as a chaser.

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

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