'Gilmore Girls' Season 4, Episode 5: The Fundamental Things Apply

'Gilmore Girls' Season 4, Episode 5: The Fundamental Things Apply

Directing and writing credits:
"The Fundamental Things Apply" is directed by Neema Barnette, written by John Stephens. I was surprised to see Barnette's name in these credits because she's kind of a big fucking deal and I had no idea she directed an episode of "GG." At only twenty-five years old, she was the first Black woman to direct a sitcom ("Something's Happening") and she has two Emmy Awards.

I know her primarily from "The Cosby Show," "Queen Sugar" and "Being Mary Jane" (which is available for streaming on Netflix right now). She and her husband, Reed R. McCants, also have a great digital series called "Black History Mini Docs." Each episode is only 90 minutes and gives a CliffsNotes-style overview of figures like MLK Jr., Pam Grier, and Ida B. Wells. I've had Barnette bookmarked as a director to write about for a while, but I haven't actually seen any of her feature films yet. If you're familiar with her and have a recommendation for where I should start, let me know.

This is the 8th and final episode written by Stephens. Here's a full overview:

"Forgiveness and Stuff" - Jane Lynch plays a cranky nurse and I am delighted to see her.
"Emily in Wonderland" - Emily and Mrs. Kim meet and I spend ten minutes fantasizing about spin-off potential.
"Run Away, Little Boy" - Rory and Paris have the lamest stage kiss in the history of stage kisses. Show some fucking passion, ladies.
"I Can't Get Started" - Sookie marries Jackson, the worst male character in the entire series.
"I Solemnly Swear" - I really want Sookie to have an affair with "Joe ... Joe Mastoni from the Deerhill Lodge," but she remains faithful to Jackson, her pumpkin-headed husband. It is disappointing.
"Face-Off" - Gran makes out with a guy in a purple track suit.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
I guess we should dive right in and discuss Rory's date outfit. I think Tana babbles incoherently about pheromones and musk because she has no idea how to tell Rory that what she's wearing is atrocious.

Those buttons! Girl, no...

This skirt might look okay on someone with a very narrow lower body, but it does zero favors for women with hips. Those buttons draw attention to the widest part of Rory's frame and by tucking in that gross little pink camisole and pairing it with a shrunken cardigan, she's made her upper body appear even smaller. Worst of all, she pairs the entire look with a boxy pink purse that is barely large enough to hold a tampon. The whole look is like a weird cross between "Anything Goes" and "The Nutcracker." I'd rather go blind than look at it for another second.

I usually don't feature two outfits in this section, but this episode has me bamboozled. Check out this head-scratcher that Lorelai wears during her jaunt around town with Sookie:

Sookie's cardigan has a dragon applique on the right side, which is similarly perplexing.

This outfit is the antithesis of chic. I guess Lorelai is trying to channel a sexy librarian, but she looks more like a teenage girl engaging in half-assed, generic cosplay. If she had paired the bell sleeved blouse and argyle sweater vest with plain black pants or jeans, I might have let this outfit slide, but the seamed skirt and mid-calf boots sent my rage through the roof.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
The opening scene of this episode is fucking bizarre, even by this show's standards. Rory comes home from Yale to find Lorelai out in the front yard, "planting" bulbs that were gifted to her by Babette. Lorelai has a little trowel and uses it to haphazardly hack holes into the lawn. Rory throws a bulb at Lorelai, Lorelai throws a bulb at Rory, then the gals spend the next thirty seconds rolling around on the ground and screaming. Rory treats the bag of old bulbs like a satchel of dog turds. I understand that they're supposed to be moldy, but gf needs to get out more if she thinks this is the pinnacle of nastiness.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Neither are particularly bad friends. Lorelai almost fires Natalie (Traci Lords), the inn's new designer, because she knows Emily Gilmore. Thankfully, Sookie puts her foot down and forces her friend to act like a mature adult instead of a teen girl.

I could listen to Natalie say "Anaglypta wallpaper" on loop.

Lane shows her face for like 5 seconds to load up on pizza before her Mrs. Kim sanctioned okra binge. Every rewatch of this show makes me even sadder for Lane.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Can you imagine Emily watching "Sex and the City?" If she could tone down the judgment train for a second, I bet she'd identify deeply with Samantha. After she finds out about Rory's date (and expresses her disappointment over the ask-out logistics), the ladies have this exchange:

Lorelai: What are you gonna wear?
Rory: I don't know.
Lorelai: Do you want to borrow something of mine?
Emily: No, she does not.
Lorelai: What does that mean?
Emily: It's bad enough that you haven't taught your daughter how to interact with the opposite sex. You will not dress her up in one of your "Sex and the City" ensembles and send her out to tell the entire campus, "Don't worry. I'll ask you."
Lorelai: How do you know about "Sex and the City"?

In another life, I could totally see Emily rocking this suit.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Babette's bulb gift is the only townie weirdness. She tells Lorelai,

"Oh, and just you wait 'til spring. You're gonna wake up one morning, walk out, and pow - color coming out of your yin-yang!"

I would totally listen to Babette on all things garden/plant related because her yard looks cute as hell.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I love all of Lorelai and Luke's interactions during movie night. She manages to playfully rib him without devolving into "complete dick" territory, which is rare. After he offers up some suggestions to ameliorate Rory's date night weirdness, he and Lorelai discuss the situation:

Luke: I wouldn't trade places with her for the world.
Lorelai: Really? You wouldn't want to go out with a boy named Trevor? You might want to wait and see his picture.
Luke: I mean dating. It's a horror.

I like that Luke, a character with mild homophobic tendencies, just brushes past this comment with a simple clarification.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory's lit class reads "The Sun Also Rises," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," and "Tender is the Night." Like all of my college English classes, this one appears to be very male-centric.

Best song of the episode:
As Rory talks to laundry room cutie (Peter Klausner), we hear "Rusholme Ruffians" by the Smiths. I love this song, but always associate it with rejection thanks to this scene.

If there were ever doubts about Rory's social awkwardness, this episode proves that they are unfounded. After a cutie named Trevor (David Rogers) defends her comments about "The Sun Also Rises," Rory turns down his date invitation because a) he carries a water bottle and b) there's no relationship potential since he's studying abroad in Barcelona next year. I appreciate her pragmatism if a relationship is solely what she's after, but I agree with Lorelai: casual dating is nice! It's important to see how many assholes and boring people are out there so that when you finally do stumble upon someone interesting and worth your time, you recognize and appreciate them.

If I hadn't spent five months dating some jackass with a cat allergy and a penchant for cocaine, I might have said, "Eh, a long-distance relationship isn't worth it" after meeting my now-husband. Since I had this loser, and many others, in my dating history, I knew that he was worth pursuing, despite the 3+ hour train ride inconvenience.

After Lorelai's pep talk, Rory decides to give this dude a chance and has an awkward, circular conversation with him where she makes her availability known but refuses to be the initiator.

Rory: I can't believe we sit around and talk about books and get graded on it. I mean, there's almost nothing I like more than talking about a good book or a bad book or a really thick magazine.
Trevor: Mmhmm.
Rory: Hey, Trevor. You know what else I like to do besides talk about a really good book? Eat. Isn't that weird? And, actually, for me, they're linked. It's true. When I talk about a book, I get really hungry - starving. You ever experience that?
Trevor: Not really.
Rory: Oh. Well, it happens to me all the time. Like right now, for example, starving, really. And I enjoyed "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" so much that I will probably be hungry for quite some time. All weekend, probably. Especially Saturday night.

Bitch, just say what you need to say and let this guy get on with his day. Nobody has time for your "tee-hee, I'm the girl, so I can't ask him out" bullshit.

A person who isn't White? Shocking!

The actual date is uncomfortable as hell. Trevor, the human equivalent of cold oatmeal, takes Rory to some Italian chain restaurant called Pancia di Lucca. It might be a knock off of Buca di Beppo, although I've never been to one of those, so I don't actually know. The restaurant is decorated with a bunch of large bread loaves that look like penises and boxed Panettone (for authenticity). Oatmeal tries to get the conversation going by asking Rory about travel and family, but she doesn't give him the most robust responses. It would be easier to have a fulfilling conversation with Alexa than this robot masquerading as a human. Here's a snippet:

Trevor: Ever been to Italy?
Rory: No. Yes. What am I saying? Yes. I was just there. Duh.
Trevor: Hard thing to forget.
Rory: Yeah. I'm just so used to not having been anywhere, but yeah, I have.
Trevor: And what's it like?
Rory: Terrific.

Riveting! As much as I hate small talk, it's important to at least teach yourself the very basics for the sake of social comfort. Here are some tips:

  1. When someone asks you a question, challenge yourself to respond with at least 10-20 words.
  2. Avoid urine-related topics unless recounting a funny story.
  3. If you don't hear something your date says, ask them to repeat it. Do not respond with something generic like "definitely" with the hopes that it somehow makes sense.

After crashing and burning for far too long (and weirdly sitting on the same side of the table), Rory calls Lorelai for help as soon as Oatmeal hits the toilets. Lorelai initially tells her to suck it up and get off the phone, but then calls Rory back with some legitimately decent tips, c/o Luke. While Rory trudges through her shitty dinner with Trevor, Lorelai and Luke have a legitimately wonderful movie date (although neither of them acknowledges the romantic potential).

They watch "Casablanca" and "Hard Bodies," two movies that Lorelai is adorably excited to show Luke for the first time, and eat burgers, fries, Chinese food, and pumpkin pie. After Rory's panicked telephone call, Luke tells Lorelai that dates are stupid and unnecessary, that he can tell if he's comfortable with someone "within seconds of meeting them." He says he felt this way with Rachel and Nicole, but "Lorelai" is the obvious unspoken name at the top of the list.

You can't see it in this picture, but Luke is drinking an MGD. A definite "GG" sponsor!

Lorelai's subplot in this episode revolves around her decision to hire a new designer for the inn. After searching for a long time and dodging a bunch of loons ("purple, purple, purple"), she finally decides on a woman named Natalie Zimmermann. She knows all about Anaglypta wallpaper and seems to understand the inn's desired aesthetic but loses major points with Lorelai after revealing that she's previously worked with Emily. In instances like this, I lose all patience for Lorelai and her insane pettiness. It's not like Natalie and Emily are bffs! There's no reason why she would have to sever a working relationship with someone just because they might one day talk to her mother and reveal super-secret personal details 🙄

Rory's date night disaster is coupled with roommate drama and weird male judgment. Paris and Janet are feuding, and Rory gets caught in the cross hairs. Afer Paris turns her alarm clock off, she accidentally sleeps in, and nearly misses waffle bar day. As she frantically moves through the breakfast line in her pajamas, desperately grasping for leftover food crumbs, Marty approaches her and introduces her to a bunch of lame looking dudes who call themselves "the Breakfast Crew." Points for originality! A few of them (including Glenn) make fun of her pajamas, which is baffling. People wore pajamas to breakfast somewhat regularly when I was in college and no one gave a single fuck.

There are points later in the series where I almost feel bad for Marty, but then I remember that he's the kind of guy who couldn't approach Rory until he saw her in pajamas and determined that this "even[ed] the playing field." Showing up to breakfast in pajamas is not even remotely as embarrassing as getting so drunk that you pass out naked in a hallway. I'm glad Rory dismisses this floppy-headed loser with a scoff and an eye-roll.

Nice polo shirt, dipshit. Did your mom pick it out for you?

Rory's story ends on a sad note when she asks someone out in the laundry room and is denied without explanation. Part of me is sympathetic to her plight, but I'm primarily happy about this setback. It's nice to watch someone who is typically handed everything that she wants on a goddamn silver platter deal with rejection.

Random observations:

  • Why is everyone on this show so averse to exercise? Paris needs to buy a pair of earplugs and shut her fucking mouth.
  • Emily's fashion game is 🔥🔥🔥 and makes everyone else look tacky/stupid. Here are two highlights:
The ponytail slays me every single time.
  • Traci Lords is a former porn star-turned-actress who has sort of an epic story. This interview with her is worth checking out if you're curious.
  • Are Pepper and Gunsmoke the former names of Cletus and Desdemona?
  • I find it hard to believe that Luke hasn't seen any movies. In the following episode, he's completely familiar with "Pretty and Pink" when Kirk does his Duckie impression in the next episode.
  • Lorelai's "Shadow Dancing" car disco is horrifying.
  • I would kill Lorelai if she made me adhere to her movie night rules: no talking, shifting, making phone calls, or using the bathroom.
  • My husband on Trevor: "Wilmer Valderrama is his twin, but he ate all of the charisma in the womb."
  • The best part of this episode is Dean's absence.
  • I like that Rory and Lorelai casually eat a container of meringues during the date debrief. I wonder if they shop at Costco.
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