Directing and writing credits:
This reference-heavy episode is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino. There are so many deep cuts and tiny details that I notice something new with each watch. This time, it was Lorelai's mention of "sparkly Venom lip gloss," which I had never fully considered before. I always thought she was saying "denim," which makes zero sense, but I'm not exactly a hardcore cosmetics connoisseur.
I somehow missed the whole Lip Venom lip plumper craze in the early 2000s. It was created by a cosmetics company called DuWop, founded by Cristina Bartolucci and Laura LaRocca. Bartloccui was part of the "Felicity" makeup department and said she was inspired to create the product when she noticed that "after love scenes, my actors would come to me for touch-ups and have these beautiful flushed plump lips." I can't tell you how happy this discovery makes me.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
If, in an extremely uncharacteristic moment, I decided to attend a last-minute bachelorette party, I would probably wear something equally schlubby, but what in the actual fuck is this bedazzled chicken ascot?
I have to assume it was a gift from Jackson that Sookie learned to appreciate over time, similar to her stupid frog collection. I'm not a huge fan of Lorelai's vow renewal ensemble either, but it doesn't hold a candle to Sookie's yarn store disaster. In her defense, there's a good chance she was sleep-walking until she arrived at the Gilmore house (with potstickers) and was forced to open her eyes.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I hate the way Lorelai treats Luke at (and leading up to) the vow renewal. She doesn't seem to empathize with his plight or even recognize it as stressful, despite his pleas to skip the event. Remember how worried Lorelai was when he first met Emily and Richard? Where's that energy now? Lorelai doesn't even arm Luke with information (you can get dressed there!) that would help him feel more at ease. I'm sure she has her own familial anxieties, but I would be furious if my partner roped me into a similar social situation and didn't do everything in their power to put me at ease.
Rory is mildly annoying as always, but at least she tells Logan what she wants in a straightforward way and is bold enough to make a first move. Are we supposed to read this as her channeling the power of the suit? The Palladinos love heteronormativity, so I wouldn't put it past them.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Lorelai drags Sookie out of bed for Emily's weird bachelorette party. It's unclear if she requested the potstickers or if Sookie brought them out of the kindness of her heart, but either way, Lorelai does throw her an appreciative "I love you," so I can't criticize her too deeply.
Lane is also present at Emily's party, but her interactions with Rory are minimal. Paris is entirely absent.
Best literary or pop culture references:
There are two references that I find especially clever since they reemerge later this season. Before their "Cop Rock" marathon, we see Rory burning CDs for Lorelai in the kitchen, including "Remastered Brian Eno." When Rory is working at the Stanford Eagle Gazette, Logan notes that she has a photo of Brian Eno (who he guesses is an "eccentric uncle") in her cubicle.
When they first arrive at the vow renewal reception, Luke is horrified to realize that there's dancing. Lorelai quips, "We’re doing the one from "Pulp Fiction." Do you want to be Uma, or should I?" A few episodes later, Rory attends Finn's Quentin Tarantino-themed party where he does that dance with his date. Those "GG" writers were really planning ahead here.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
The ladies of Stars Hollow rapidly assemble for Emily's makeshift bachelorette party, which I find endearing. Even Gypsy shows up and listens to Emily's inane drunken rich person stories. In "The Gilmore Girls Companion," Rose Abdoo says, "I think that Gypsy had a little crush on Lorelai, she just wanted to be around her. So when I got to stand on Lorelai's porch, I was like, 'Wow, I'm really at her house.'" You mean to tell me that Gypsy, the mechanic, is maybe coded as gay? Shocking! Wouldn't it have been nice if the Palladinos had actually created nuanced gay characters and just (gasp) let them be openly gay?
Other party attendees include Babette, who falls asleep on a living room chair clutching her leopard print handbag, and Miss Patty, who crashes on Rory's bed. Lane and Kyeon are also there, eating toothpick-skewered tater tots and debating the utility of a vow renewal ceremony ("but why?").
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
As a grade-A wasp, you know Emily Gilmore has tried a range of prescription pills in her day. I love this pre-ceremony exchange between her and Lorelai:
Emily: Maybe I should take a Seconal.
Lorelai: Excellent idea, Judy.
Maybe Emily and Paris are more alike than I thought. Both are united by their grab bags of rando prescription pills, meant to guide them through this bleak and confusing miasma we call life!
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory is more interested in boning than reading in this episode (zero judgment).
Best song of the episode:
I have to go with "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, aka Richard and Emily's first dance song. I didn't realize that there were so many shows with identically titled episodes: "Dallas," "JAG," "Beverly Hills, 90210,"Family Matters," "Cheers," and a whole host of others. I have to imagine that the title comes from this song, which premiered in 1969. The lead singer, Marilyn McCoo, has such a beautiful voice and deserves more widespread modern day recognition.
Aside from character motivations that don't make sense and unchecked classist fuckery, this episode is a delight. ASP has a knack for making me care about characters that I partially loathe, like Richard and Emily Gilmore. Why am I so invested in the happiness of two people who treat anyone outside of their economic class like a servant? The fact that they are somewhat likable is a testament to the talent of Kelly Bishop and Edward Hermann. I can think of few actors with the ability to make textbook evil characters so nuanced, even when they're oozing cruelty. They would suck in real life, but are enjoyable to observe them from afar. It's no mystery that Luke dreads spending time with them.
After loading up on boating supplies (and fisherman's boots, size 9) in the opening scene, he once again begs Lorelai to let him skip the vow renewal. She goads him into acquiescing, and he's almost immediately hit with a foreboding Emily encounter outside of Lorelai's house. When he congratulates her on the vow renewal, Emily immediately retorts, "You congratulate the groom. You offer the bride best wishes." Fuck off, Emily. Your last name is Gilmore, not Post. Just once, it would be nice to see her bite her tongue instead of seizing every available opportunity to make Luke feel small and insignificant.
Emily is at the Gilmore house under the pretense that her wedding dress contains loose beads that she needs Lorelai to fix. In reality, she's there with some unvocalized bachelorette party expectations. When Lorelai asks why she doesn't have the woman who made the dress fix it, Emily responds, "When a woman gives birth to a crack baby you do not buy her a puppy." YIKES. Even if she offered me a massive hourly rate, I would never work for Emily. I would have to be stoned out of my mind to put up with her onslaught of abuse.
All goes relatively well at Lorelai's haphazard bachelorette party. Although it isn't at all fancy, Emily seems to have a good time with the help of many rum and cokes. I only regret that we don't get to see her use the spray cheese. After the party ends and Emily is asleep with Lorelai's Hello Kitty pillow, Lorelai pulls the vow renewal seating chart (with Logan's name visible) out of her bag and starts making drunken adjustments. While I can't deny that this looks fun, it is a dick move that ends up getting Emily's party planner promptly fired.
It also kickstarts a stupid fight with Rory, who is concerned about the elder Gilmores' cutthroat decision to screw another couple (the Sheldrakes) out of their originally booked venue. When Lorelai compares the "vapid" and "selfish" world her parents inhibit to Rory's article on the Life and Death Brigade, the conversation becomes tense. Rory says, "Just because you have money, that doesn't automatically make you a jerk."
Similar circumstances arise in S7 when Rory attends Logan's launch party, tears it to shreds in a piece for an online publication, and then vehemently denies that it's as mean as everyone claims. Rory desperately wants to criticize the wealthy, a group that she belongs to and benefits from, without ever actually checking her own privilege or candidly admitting to her agenda. I think this is the crux of why I dislike her so much.
At the vow renewal, everything is as awful and tense as you would imagine. Countless jokes are made at Luke's expense and Lorelai rarely jumps in to defend him. He handles it far better than I would, aided by several well-deserved beers and a mask of carefully crafted stoicism. When Christopher pops up, Lorelai is forced to tell him about their tequila night, noting that "I’m only telling you now because he’s here and it might come up, and I don’t want you to feel shanghaied." First, the term "shanghaied" is offensive* and reminds me of Trump calling COVID-19 the "Kung Flu." Second, why does Lorelai think this is helping her cause? She's basically telling Luke that her Christopher hang would have remained a secret if not for his presence at the party. How does she expect Luke to take this news?
What's worse is that Christopher continually makes his presence known throughout the night, deliberately provoking Luke with more ferocity after each drink. Luke generally takes this in stride and refuses to engage until the dynamic reaches a fever pitch after Rory and Logan are caught making out in an empty room by all three parental figures. What makes me angriest is watching two men try to police a young woman's sexuality. After Luke and Christopher threaten to kick Logan's ass, they get into a fight over who has the right to get involved in Rory's business. Luke calls Christopher out on all of the standard father/daughter moments he missed. Christopher tells Luke that his relationship with Lorelai is temporary and that Emily agrees. Lorelai stands there, dumbfounded, and makes half-assed attempts to de-escalate.
After Luke storms out and Lorelai is forced to take a wedding party group picture, she leans over to Emily and whisper/seethes, "You and me, we're done." While Emily certainly is at fault for meddling in Lorelai's love life, it's hard to ignore that she could have avoided at least some of the conflict by telling Luke the truth from the beginning. Pulling drunk Christopher aside at the wedding and telling him to piss off is another good option. I don't like how Luke reacts to this fight in subsequent episodes, but can't knock him for leaving the event after several insults too many.
As Lorelai deals with a horrible mess of her own making, Rory lurks around and tries to work up the courage to ask Logan if he's interested in her. I'm not a Rory fan, but I must give her props for directness. After observing him with his date, she catches him alone, invites him to dance, and asks point-blank if he likes her. To his credit, Logan expresses his interest but is upfront about the fact that he is not in the market for a relationship. Rory agrees to something casual, they kiss a little, and then a horde of angry adults collectively cock-block them.
Logan's behavior is better than expected, but I still hate the way that he grabs the champagne bottle from Rory, sighs deeply, and takes a swig. To me, this comes off like he doesn't really want to go through with the plan but agrees after Rory's arm-twisting. It could also be read as hesitation because Logan knows deep-down that there's no way Rory is going to be satisfied with a casual fling. Either way, I'm not crazy about this behavior. As discussed in the "Come Home" comments section, I likewise hate the gender normative commentary on Rory's suit. Logan tells her, "I feel like I’m kissing a guy," which is annoying because — news flash — clothing items aren't relegated to gender.
As discussed in previous recaps, my underlying issue with "Wedding Bell Blues" is that the conflict feels manufactured. There should have been more lead-up to Christopher's renewed interest in Lorelai. Maybe they could have shared a drunken kiss during the tequila night? Or maybe Christopher could have tried to win Lorelai back earlier in the season to no avail. His romantic interest in Lorelai should have been peppered throughout the season, not suddenly renewed after one visit from Emily. I know she helped him with Gigi earlier in the season and they were starting to get chummy before Rory intervened, but I never got the sense that Christopher was actively angling for something deeper than friendship. I wanted more than historical precedent to convince me of his interest.
- Here is an overview of the snack spread for Rory and Lorelai's "Cop Rock" marathon: pancakes with syrup, tater tots, mini powdered donuts, Pop-Tarts, and pastel mini marshmallows as a garnish. Lorelai also considers making mashed potatoes but nixes them when "stir to combine" throws her for a loop. A "pizza tower" is mentioned but not pictured. They level up the bachelorette food spread with the addition of Sookie's potstickers, bowls of dry Froot Loops and Ritz Crackers, and tons of spray cheese.
- Rory burns Lorelai CDs from the following bands: Super Furry Animals, Arcade Fire, and Brian Eno.
- The vow renewal was filmed at the Wilshire Ebell Woman's Club, which was also the setting for Rory's dance in S1 and cotillion in S2.
- Did you notice the painting class taking place in the salon as Christopher and Rory discussed his first kiss with Lorelai? I'm surprised Emily and Richard didn't find some way to pay them off.
- Bad shit apparently happens when Emily mixes vodka and gin. I'm pissed that we don't get to see this come to fruition.
- Rory and Logan's dance to "Swan River" feels like a definite "Breakfast at Tiffany's" reference. ASP is definitely responsible for my high school Audrey Hepburn obsession.
- I probably need a "hell is for children" t-shirt. It would go perfectly with the "love is a battlefield" t-shirt that I bought at Hot Topic circa 9th grade.
*Check out the comments for more information on the term "Shanghaied." After digging into the etymology, I think it's probably not offensive. Apologies, Lorelai.