Gilmore Girls, Part 2: The Bad

How does a show whose eponymous purpose is to be about mother/daughter relationships become all about romance? I can understand and appreciate it, to some extent, since Rory’s show age means that both she and her single mom are at a point in their lives where romantic relationships are taking on a new importance. Rory was 16 when the show started, and is in her early 20s now, which makes that natural for her for obvious reasons, and Lorelai has a freedom when her daughter is that old and independent that she hadn’t had up to that point. I was genuinely hopeful when Lorelai and Luke got together after years of TV cliché will-they-or-won’t-they that this show wouldn’t jump the shark, but the tension manufactured by the fact that all of a sudden, neither of them seemed able to have any kind of a personality or awareness of reality has quashed that hope. Our independent Lorelai who never shuts up no longer had any backbone or willingness to communicate to Luke that the way he was treating her was unacceptable, not to mention nonsensical.

The outright insanity of insisting that Lorelai had to play out a marriage with Christopher has succeeded in driving me round the bend. How does she get this idea into her head that they need to see, once and for all, if they were “meant to be”, even taking into account their affection for one another and inevitable lifelong bond? They never invoke the dreaded “soulmates” word, but it’s in the subtext. Christopher was an absentee father to Rory, and has only ever temporarily shown willingness to take responsibility for his actions and grow up. The spinectomy Lorelai had while she was dating Luke was not corrected during her relationship with Christopher this season, as he behaved selfishly, pushily and with inappropriate jealousy, and she continually apologized to him for causing it. A good kayak, of the sort mentioned in my last post, would have seen that while Chris would always be Rory’s father, and while she may wish the best for him, it would never be best for her to try to hammer out a real marriage with him, not just in spite of their history but because of the amount of baggage it entails. First of all, it was poorly written and I never had an understanding of what either character was really feeling, and second, it seemed to be this implicit support for the idea that a nuclear family is inherently desirable, which goes, again, directly counter to what I thought was the point of the show.

Rory’s had her own blind spot that seems to be right where her spine would belong in some situations, but both of the lead characters’ relationships may be going in a direction now that suggests that the show is getting that train back on the rails. Like the new executive producers read the mission statement, finally. Oh, but we still have to deal with “the ugly”.

Comments

  1. sbg says

    I’ve never understood why writers change the characters once they’re finally together. What is the reasoning behind it? Even as a casual viewer, I figured they’d eventually get Lorelai and Luke together. But once they did, it’s like TPTB thought they needed to manufacture drama and tension. Uhm, stupid.

    I only saw snippets of the dreaded marriage of Lorelai and Christopher, and that was plenty.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Even as a casual viewer, I figured they’d eventually get Lorelai and Luke together. But once they did, it’s like TPTB thought they needed to manufacture drama and tension. Uhm, stupid.

    That’s exactly what I was taught in screenwriting classes: set up the tension, play it until they have sex. Set up the marriage tension, play it until the wedding. Then set up new tensions, and keep playing them, because otherwise nothing will happen.

    Nothing? You mean all that utterly fascinating function of a day to day relationship?

    You have to be a good character writer to dig into the tensions and harmonies (like a great piece of music) of a functional relationship. Dysfunction is the plot-oriented writer’s shortcut to alleged characterization.

  3. scarlett says

    You have to be a good character writer to dig into the tensions and harmonies (like a great piece of music) of a functional relationship. Dysfunction is the plot-oriented writer’s shortcut to alleged characterization.

    That just makes me think of Zoe and Wash from Firefly. I loved that most of their tensions were day-to-day things.

  4. MaggieCat says

    Nothing? You mean all that utterly fascinating function of a day to day relationship?

    This is one of the things I love about Friday Night Lights- the amazingly functional marriage of Tami and Eric Taylor. There are the normal day-to-day stresses, but it’s one of the most solid relationships I’ve ever seen on tv. I’m far more interested in their happy marriage than the disintegrating, angst-filled relationship of the show’s teenage golden couple.

    Of course apparently no one is watching that show (besides me *sniff*) so perhaps that proves their point.

  5. Purtek says

    Then set up new tensions, and keep playing them, because otherwise nothing will happen.

    And “something happening”, in the case of a long-term will-they-or-won’t-they couple, is always breaking up and getting back together again, over and over, until they do so, one more time, in the series finale, at which point the writers really want you to know that it’s for real and for true and all those petty conflicts they were having before won’t matter anymore, yay!

    Surprisingly, the writers of Frasier actually managed to avoid this, even with several seasons of will-they-or-won’t-they (I need an acronym for that) between Niles and Daphne. I wasn’t a regular watcher, but my understanding is at least once they got involved, they stayed that way and worked through conflicts together.

    Oh, and Ide Cyan’s not so far off in her “feeling” about “the ugly”.

  6. S. A. Bonasi says

    BetaCandy: The “Conflict! Conflict! Conflict!” mode of romance-writing makes me thinking of the irksome Kate-Jack-Sawyer love triangle on Lost. God I love the show, but the Triangle falls utterly flat for me. And part of this is the writers complete refusual to ever give any kind of resolution. It takes a heck of a toll on Kate’s character because they have her switch preferences as quick as you can blink. (The other part is that I think Jack is a misogynist jerk. Sawyer ain’t that much better, but Jack supposed to be the “good guy”. Ick.)

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    Maggie, the reason *I’m* not watching is that now that I’m running this site, ironically I have very little time for TV! LOL!

    There are plenty of couples that prove this wrong – we had a thread about sci-fi couples with functional relationships here in the forum. And another good way to create tension comes from “Brisco County, Jr.” – Brisco and Dixie got the sex out of the way in the pilot episode, and went their separate ways. They kept meeting up again, and without meaning to, they kept getting emotionally closer. By the end, there’s a definite sense that they’d get married if only either one of them had any desire to give up their crazy lives and settle down. They don’t. They never make promises.

    Bonasi, that’s one of the worst things about this formulaic approach: it usually ends up compromising character integrity, and most often the woman’s or girl’s, since the writers are usually male and identifying with the male characters.

  8. rianax says

    that’s one of the worst things about this formulaic approach: it usually ends up compromising character integrity, and most often the woman’s or girl’s, since the writers are usually male and identifying with the male characters.

    Exactly.

    The constant push and pull of that kind of relationship becomes degrading in the long term; the audience gets jaded and the characters regress into whiny middle schoolers. There is no resolution, only the treading of old ground.

    With Gilmore Girls, it has grow to a point that no one but Suki is likeable anymore. Everyone else needs a spine and a slap upside the head.

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