Oh boy. Richard in Stars Hollow.
The summary: After Richard retires, Emily flips out because he is always around. So she sends Richard to Stars Hollow for a day, which goes as it should: hilarious but hella stressful. Lots of family drama, lots of Lorelai being super uncomfortable which is hilarious, and lots of Paris being, well, Paris. As it often happens, Paris is my favorite person in this episode.
SPOILER ALERT. I have seen all the seasons before, so I am reviewing retrospectively. SPOILER ALERT.
Richard in SH
Episodes that contain Friday Night Dinners and/or town meetings are already winners in my book. They often have more Lorelai-being-sarcastic moments than any other setting, and both Taylor and Emily are excellent counterparts to Lor’s jokes as well. Starting a conversation asking about your daughter’s love life only to clarify that you need to know if you should dump a dead family member from your family mausoleum onto an annex… who does that? Emily Gilmore, that’s who. Sorry aunt Cecile, but that’s what you get for telling terrible jokes.
Poor Emily, she is used to her routine without having her husband notice every single thing she does, including moving a vase a little, and without having passive-aggressive under-his-breath comments on her coffee-drinking habits. Honestly I would wig out too. I love Richard but he is too much, and pushing himself into Emily’s schedule, telling her what to cancel and wanting to tag along with her friends is too much. I have to say, though, I would pay to have seen Richard in Emily’s water aerobics class.
I feel sad about Lor’s relationship with her dad. They are so awkward around each other when they’re just the two of them, and do not communicate well at all. They are both obviously partially at fault, and they are also very different. It just makes me sad because they obviously love each other, but they don’t really know how to. Richard is like my dad in many ways, and this episode reminds me to be nicer to him, which is a good reminder. Richard butts into his daughter’s life because he wants to help and he has a very particular idea of what’s best for her. It’s still butting in, but it’s usually with loving intentions.
I can only imagine (actually, I’d rather not) if my dad supervised/checked in on my work. It’d be a bloodbath. While I understand that Richard was trying to help and indeed, Lorelai overdid it with the fake-flirting with the linen guy and was unprofessional, who knows best how to deal with her own job? Lorelai! And another thing that is unprofessional – and diminishing of her position as boss – is Richard scolding Lorelai in front of coworkers, and possibly within earshot of employees, guests, etc. She is not twelve, and clearly she can handle herself, otherwise she would not be the manager.
I’ve got to say, though: butting in about the Harvard vs Yale thing was called for. I understand Lor being sensitive about her parents giving their opinions about everything but, like, that’s what concerned parents and grandparents do. And it’s common sense not to set your mind to one school just because you’ve heard it’s the best because “best” is relative to what you want it to be best at, because she might not get in, because picking a school without weighing it against others is stupid, etc. It’s not even about Yale. And Lorelai so obviously and stubbornly steering Rory in the direction of her (Lor’s) dream university is the kind of manipulation she so often criticizes Richard and Emily for. Not wanting Rory to consider other schools because she might choose other schools is incredibly controlling: if Harvard really was Rory’s dream uni, Rory would arrive to that conclusion herself, no? And look, I’m not spoiling anything! 😉
What Richard wanted to do, though, was get Rory into Yale by pulling strings. I would be against that, too. They are both wrong, basically. Everyone is wrong.
About that car, though
I don’t even want to get into Richard interfering with Rory’s relationship AGAIN. The reasons Dean sucks are not the reasons Richard grills him for. I have always thought the car was too much. And I wouldn’t trust a car built by a silly 17yo either. It wasn’t Richard’s business, or Richard’s call if Rory should keep it or not, but I understand his concern. Rory and Lorelai look at Dean building that car with dreamy eyes but have they checked if it is safe? Have they asked anything beyond just “how perfect Dean is” for building a car? Good intentions do not equal good outcome. I do appreciate Dean digging his heels in and telling Richard to go check it at the shop, and confronting him about Richard’s deplorable behavior at that dinner in Sadie, Sadie… (See? I can say nice things about Dean too.)
Paris in SH
Paris: No no no no –
Paris: I’m not done.
I love this woman with every fiber of my being. Only Paris would take it upon herself to uncover the seedy underbelly of Stars Hollow.
But like, what could Paris mean by seedy underbelly? She would probably mean drug users, gangs, or homeless youth, or sex workers, or dive bars: invariably something at least vaguely classist, or racist, or both. If there truly is no “seedy underbelly”, Stars Hollow is basically a middle/middle-upper class town. It’s not run-down, it’s not seedy, it’s just Stars Hollow, Rory says. The town is so unrealistic, though. The jobs most people have in that town don’t pay enough to have no “sketchy” parts of town, or to afford beautiful, big houses that most people have. Rory mocking Paris and telling her that the bad part of town is where people are upset over the color of that fence makes me think that that kind of thing is its residents’ biggest trouble. Now that’s a privileged lil’ town. Anyway, I move along because this is probably one of those “THIS IS FICTION, LUI, GIVE IT A REST” moments.
Paris: What about that guy over there, what’s his story?
Luke: Reverend Nichols?
Paris: Reverend Nichols. What’s that, like Dr Feelgood?
This is one of my favorite Jess scenes of all time (and there are many!): him playing along to Paris’ theory that Luke had sex workers upstairs. [The way they talk about sex work in this show often conflates sex work with trafficking which I guess is business as usual for a mainstream TV show but I guess I would expect more from Gilmore girls. They perpetuate the myth of the older creepy pimp but they use the word prostitution. It’s not chill.] Interactions between Paris and Jess are few and far apart but they are always wonderful. I wish there had been more. They’re both super smart and sarcastic and funny.
The Queen of Censorship
Taylor is so over-the-top frustrating and annoying that it is actually quite enjoyable to watch his scenes. And Paris should really visit Stars Hollow a lot more.
This episode should actually be called Paris in Stars Hollow because her visit is far more fun than Richard’s. Taylor and Kirk build a curtain behind which they put every single movie known to man except like, Dumbo and Bambi. I find the choice of curtains instead of just a door or a separate room with a sign to be particularly dramatic, stigmatizing and hilarious (because it’s fiction, otherwise it’d be terrifying, to be honest.) Of course Paris would want to write about that. And of course Tayor would have a ridiculously goody-goody looking picture of Rory as the poster for censorship.
I kind of wanted to see what Jess put inside Bambi and Dumbo’s movie cases, though. In my mind, it’s tentacle porn. It has to be.
This episode sounds so much like home to me. Richard has great intentions and wants to be needed but he ends up interfering where he has no business making decisions or undermining Lorelai’s. But he is lonely and being rejected by his family. I can’t imagine what that’s like: to have a purpose your whole life and then to stop having that purpose.
Next up, a picnic!