Directing and writing credits:
"But Not as Cute as Pushkin" is directed by Michael Zinberg, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. This is Zinberg's second episode of "Gilmore Girls," the first being "Afterboom," the one where Luke feeds Lorelai a Danish while she talks simultaneously on 2 cell phones. Zinberg is a TV pro, working on "Monk," "The Good Wife," and "The Bob Newhart Show."
I have no ASP news for you, but it feels like a second season of "A Year in the Life" is unfortunately inevitable.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
Rory and Lorelai each have one unforgivably bad outfit. Rory's worst offense is a camouflage cargo skirt, denim blazer, mid-calf suede boots, nude fishnet stockings, a striped skinny scarf, and a blue polo shirt with some of the buttons undone. She has the scarf wrapped weirdly around the collar, presumably cutting off her circulation and providing a handy explanation for her irritating behavior. A huge, stiff-looking leather messenger bag weighs down one shoulder and makes her posture look even worse than usual.
Rory's hideousness is one-upped by Lorelai, who wears a pair of low-rise "business" pants paired with a tight, short argyle sweater. This tragedy is topped with a brown blazer and sparkly teal tit scarf. I'm not 100% on the shoes, but they look like pointy black stilettos. Seriously, did we think this was cool in the early 2000s or was it always just bad? I feel like Marissa Cooper would have worn this exact outfit but with denim culottes.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Lorelai is fine, but Rory's behavior is insufferable from start to finish. She agrees to host Anna (Sarah Tareen), a prospective Yale student from Chilton, for a few days at the request of Headmaster Charleston. Instead of asking Anna what she wants to see, Rory parades her around on a note-taking death march, giving lectures on boring benches, force-feeding her froyo for every meal, and treating her like a precocious 10-year-old instead of a high school student. Every interaction with Marty and/or Logan ups the cringe factor ten-fold.
This is officially the point where I start to find Rory insufferable and have a difficult time remembering why I ever enjoyed her as a character.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Rory rudely interrupts Paris' therapy session with Terrence to ask about her notebook. When she notices a handwritten message by the phone, she admonishes Paris for not halting therapy to inform her that Headmaster Charleston called. Does Rory not understand that therapy, even when administered by Terrence, should be respected? Also, she doesn't even ask Paris if she's okay with a 16-year-old high school student crashing in their dorm room common space. Later, she seems more than a little judgmental about Paris' hookup with Doyle. As Rory ushers Anna out of the room, Paris screams, "You have no right to be repulsed by my sex life!" As always, I stand with Paris.
Sookie pops up briefly to help Lorelai move Mrs. Thompson's (Bunny Levine) Thigh Masters into the garage. Have you ever noticed how it's typically Sookie helping with the grunt work like this? How many times has Lorelai volunteered to do some menial task for Sookie? I guess she did go on the horrible date with Jackson's cousin Rune, but it took lots of arm twisting.
Best literary or pop culture references:
It's a deep tie between Miss Patty's (hypothetical) stories about "Milton Berle's penis" and this exchange between Rory and Paris:
Rory: It's 11 o'clock at night. Who are you hoping to hook up with now? Spike and Drusilla?
Paris: Just tell me if my lipstick looks too whore-ish.
Rory: Nope, just whore-ish enough.
It's surprising that there aren't more "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" references considering the crossover between writers on both shows. As for Milton Berle, the dude was legendary for swinging around his giant dong, so I'm sure Miss Patty's got stories for days.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
Kirk is now shilling bath and shower adhesive decals via catalog, which seems like a good follow-up to his short-lived political mailbox career. During Miss Patty's 40th anniversary with showbiz party, he reads "Yoga for Dummies" and plays the cowbell during a lively rendition of "The Coffee Song." Kirk is the only consistently good presence in the "GG" universe for me at this point.
I love that Patty describes showbiz as "a lover that's been much more loyal and seductive than a husband." I do have two big questions about her party, though: 1) Where the fuck is Babette, her bff? 2) Is the woman playing the piano the same woman who was driving a golf cart in this episode? She isn't credited in either episode, so I don't know the actor's name.
Another townie tidbit is that there is a shoe repair man named Pasquale (not seen on camera) who feels unappreciated, despite the recently held "Stars Hollow Loves Pasquale Day." To stave off his grouchiness, Lorelai greets him with this compliment: "Oh Pasquale, the maestro! My god, you look virile today. Are you sure your wife won't share you?" 🤨
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Everything that Paris says during speed dating is amazing. I particularly enjoy this exchange, where she eviscerates Jack (Joe Egender) for asking a boring question:
Jack: Uh, what's your major?
Paris: Seriously, you've got one minute to make an impression and that's all you can come up with? You want to know my sign too, Jack? Or how about my favorite color? Or if I'm a Britney or a Christina? Here, I'll ask you a question. Was the last time you had an interesting thought, when you considered flinging yourself off a building? [bell rings] Bye, Jack. I'll write Mother immediately.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory is apparently studying Dylan Thomas in one of her classes. Other than that brief mention, there is little evidence of her reading obsession. I tried to catch the title of the book she sniffs in the library, but no dice. After Anna mentions how cute Logan is, Rory utters the episode title. It's all very disgusting. I wonder if Rory is aware that she can't fuck Pushkin; he's been dead since 1837.
Best song of the episode:
Nothing else compares to Miss Patty's extravaganza performance. I love the festive decor in her studio, too. I know I'm starved for human interaction because I'm jealous of everything at this party.
For me, this episode has always marked the beginning of the end for Rory Gilmore. The qualities I loved about her in the early seasons have started to fade away and now she's teetering on the edge of obnoxious privilege and full-blown narcissism. Can you imagine what she would be like as a parent? I feel like we get a little glimpse of it here and it ain't good.
As a "welcome to Yale" gift, Rory buys Anna a bunch of crap from the student store: Yale t-shirt, bulldog sweatshirt, Yale baseball cap, visor, coffee mug, and soda cozy. The estimated total cost of those items? At least $100 in 2004. As Paris points out, "You don't even have your loser card-swiping job anymore and you're buying all this crap for some kid you don't even know?" It's ludicrous, and Rory should learn how to win people over without using money.
From the moment Anna (aka Eve Harrington) arrives, Rory makes zero effort to get to know her. She doesn't ask her why she's interested in Yale or what she would like to see/do/experience. Anna is treated as if she's a young Rory, determined to learn every tedious fact about Yale without experiencing any of the exciting freedom that comes with college.
Does Rory have some kind of social anxiety? This level of preparation with zero room for casual conversation is what I might expect from someone who is nervous to be alone with a relative stranger. I've never thought about her in this context before, but an anxiety issue would maybe explain some of Rory's behavior in a way that isn't just like "she's so self-absorbed that she doesn't realize people different from her exist."
After a delightful visit to the newsroom (Doyle and Paris' pen argument 😂) and one of Rory's forced book sniffing sessions, Logan pops up in the library and is all "Hi, Ace," followed by some smarmy wink-adjacent facial expressions. Anna swoons and for a brief moment, Rory chills out and decides to follow Logan's recommendation of visiting the pub. While ordering a round of cappuccinos, Anna attracts a 2 men that Rory shoos away with a level of intensity that would make Mrs. Kim proud. This terrible exchange (with Marty present!) ensues after Anna calls Rory out on her egregious cock block:
Anna: Well, this is so not fair. You get to talk to boys.
Anna: Well, you were over there talking to Marty.
Rory: That's different. Marty is just a friend. Which is another great thing about college. You learn to have guy friends. Nothing romantic, just a good pal. Those boys are not interested in your friendship, unless the word friendship is tattooed on your butt. Now, drink your coffee. It's good, huh?
As previously discussed many times, I think it's unfair to expect Rory to read Marty's mind. He's never expressed his feelings for her and it is not her job to parse out his emotions and make assumptions about what he wants; however, her level of absolute cluelessness here is astonishing. Even someone who is firmly in the friend zone wouldn't love the subtext of what Rory is saying, which is basically that Marty is sexually unappealing, and a romantic tryst with him would be laughable. It's likewise obnoxious that Rory treats Anna like a child with zero sexual agency or experience. Maybe Anna is fucking Chilton dudes in droves back home and wants to try some Yale D? Let her live!
In Professor Bell's (George Anthony Bell) class the next day, Logan and his pals barge in and make a huge spectacle that I guess is supposed to be like immersive theater or something? If someone did this to me, I would never talk to them again. Unexpectedly becoming the center of attention and interrupting a class are pure nightmare fuel. Rory is not happy until, I would argue, Marty explains, "Attention like that from people like Logan is like being tapped. You've been anointed. You're in." Really? So we're back to the old "boys are only mean or rude because they have a crush on you" explanation? Fuck that shit. Rory should have cut ties with Logan after her "buttface miscreant" speech.
While Rory deals with all of this manufactured Logan drama, Anna decides to forgo the fro-yo social (?) for a house party where she is eventually nabbed by the campus police. Headmaster Charleston calls Rory and expresses his disappointment. Marty, who was out helping Rory look for Anna, is salty enough that he refuses to share a cab back to campus with her. At the end of the episode, Rory decides to give Logan a taste of his own medicine with the help of Richard Gilmore. They "prank" him by having Richard insinuate that an arranged marriage between Rory and Logan is in the works. The fact that this is believable enough to worry Logan tells you everything you need to know.
In the midst of Rory's nonsense, Paris is busy "putting herself out there" and trying to meet men per Terrence's request. When she finally makes it to Doyle's table at speed dating, she tells him "I don't see one person in this room that shouldn't be sterilized immediately." Is it wrong that this is typically my first thought every time I walk into a new social situation? Of course, Paris and Doyle end up boning and one of my most beloved "GG" couples is born. The scene where they get on a call with Terrence post-sex and immediately discuss feelings and intentions is pure gold. The fact that Doyle rolls with it proves he is worthy of Paris.
Lorelai's situation this episode isn't uninteresting but pales in comparison to Rory. I was just talking to WiR reader Kat Friedman about whether or not we thought it was in character for Luke to [spoiler alert] have a kid with someone unexpectedly, and I have to say that this episode made me think about that a bit deeper. Up to this point, things have been going well between Luke and Lorelai (which they explicitly discuss as she eats pie in his bed); however, it's clear that he's not being truthful with her when she invites him to Miss Patty's party and he claims he can't attend because of "banking business in Woodbury."
Later, Lorelai sees Luke screaming at Mrs. Thompson over a boat storage issue and after tons of coaxing (and consultation with various town gossips), she finds out that November 30 is Luke's "dark day," aka the anniversary of his dad's death. Instead of confiding in her, Luke grumbles around and invents fake appointments to avoid emotional vulnerability. It's not very healthy! Then, even after Lorelai knows why he's upset and tries to do something nice for him to prevent future sadness, he flips out and accuses her of not listening to him. I totally agree that Lorelai can be self-absorbed and inconsiderate but in this instance, I think it's pretty clear that she just wants to help and isn't trying to be an asshole. Someone find this man a therapist stat!
If Luke can't even admit that he's having a sad day (and lashes out with anger when he finally does), I guess it is plausible that he would also struggle to reveal something huge like a secret kid (and that the mom of that secret kid might be afraid to tell him about it). As I rewatch the rest of the series, I'm going to pay close attention to more instances of Luke's unwillingness to open up and the resulting anger that follows. I never thought the show laid good groundwork for his reaction to April and the long period of lying to Lorelai, but maybe there's evidence that I hadn't considered.
- Lorelai mentions "Jessica Simpson's bath products" and I just want to remind everyone that a) these were edible and b) they gave a bunch of people yeast infections. The line was discontinued due to mounting lawsuits. Yummy!
- When Richard asks if Rory is making friends at school, she replies, "Yeah, I have some good friends." Who? Paris, someone she already knew from high school, and Marty. Far be it for me to criticize someone else's introversion, but ... I think Rory might need a few sessions with Terrence so she, too, can learn about "putting herself out there."
- I love that Rory's "boy break" lasts all of a few months. Everyone knew that person in college who couldn't be without a significant other because of their desperate need for attention.
- Confirmed: the Maya Lin story that Rory tells Anna is true.
- I noticed that Lorelai's car registration (June 2004) is expired, which officially means that I've watched this show 500x too many.
- Rory and Paris have a poster from "Derrida" (2002), Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick's documentary about the titular French philosopher. The cinematographer on that film is none other than Kirsten Johnson (who you might know from her 2016 documentary, "Cameraperson").
- How much money did Red Bull pony up for stealth product placement?