Directing and writing credits:
"A House is Not a Home" is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Lauren Graham mentions in her memoir that she struggled with the mother-daughter rift that starts in this episode and carries into S6.
"I have to admit I struggled with the Lorelai/Rory separation. It went on for a while, and Lorelai was so crabby with her for several episodes, not to mention that I missed my favorite scene partner [Alexis Bledel] … I remember talking about it with Amy, who felt it was important developmentally that this always-close relationship hit a significant growing pain. Still, I felt bad in scenes where I kept holding a grudge."
I'll discuss this further as we move into S6, but I'm really not a fan of Lorelai's decision to freeze Rory out in her time of need just because of the elder Gilmores' involvement. It feels petty and immature, even for Lorelai.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
Lorelai's vest in the previous photo is certainly a choice, but I hate her outfit in the final scene even more. If she wants to wear boob tape for Friday night dinner, that's her prerogative, but it seems like an awful lot of work for a meal with her parents.
Both Lorelai and Rory wear an eclectic assortment of hideous shrugs/wraps in this episode. I don't understand their purpose. In theory, I guess they add warmth (?) and texture without overshadowing the rest of the outfit. In practice, they look like cardigans that shrunk in the dryer or discount ballet apparel.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
The whole episode is full of problematic moments, so we'll stick with the small ones here. I hate how Lorelai brags to the (Black!) cop about Rory as she's sitting in jail after committing a rich kid idiot crime.
"I mean, my daughter never gets into trouble. Except, you know, now. But on the whole, the kid is an angel. She goes to Yale."
I obviously don't support police violence (or police in general), but I would not have blamed this officer for "accidentally" tasing Lorelai.
Rory's most uncharacteristic line of dialogue is, "He said I can’t do it, so I can’t do it," when discussing Mitchum's criticism with Lorelai. Since when has she ever succumbed to this mentality. As Melody pointed out in the comments, Rory clawed her way to valedictorian after a string of early bad grades at Chilton, fought back against Paris' dumb assignments at The Franklin, and eventually adjusted to college life after being forced to drop a class. Would she really accept this broad declaration with zero pushback or alternate opinions?
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
The Gilmore girls are too busy dealing with their own respective crises to interact with Sookie, Lane, and/or Paris. I do find it strange that Rory and Lane never rely on each other when they're dealing with personal shit. If I was arrested for stealing a boat, I would immediately call my three best friends for advice. The same goes for Lane, who has a temporary meltdown when it seems like Hep Alien is breaking up. Thankfully, Mrs. Kim steps in and uses her "all-girl Christian tambourine band" experience to put together a tour.
Best literary or pop culture references:
I love this exchange between Lorelai and Taylor when she refuses to move her Jeep to accommodate the bike race:
Taylor: As of ten o'clock tonight. At 10:01, we will be towing.
Kirk: I'm coming for you!
Lorelai: Okay, Taylor, it's 9:55. I still have six minutes.
Taylor: Yes, but it would be easier if you would just move the car now.
Lorelai: If it's easy then anyone could do it, and I'm a maverick.
Taylor: Look what Jane Fonda hath wrought.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
Taylor freaks out over preparations for the fifth annual Connecticut Bike Race. He "bagged [SH] the coveted first stop, last stop slot" by employing manipulation tactics involving ouzo and karaoke. Kirk is now a tow truck operator (sans any knowledge about how to operate a tow truck). Luke nearly kills several bikers and has a rage stroke after listening to repeated shouts of "Big hole!" in the town square. He also backs out of his deal with Taylor on the Twickham house after Lorelai takes a casual meeting with Mike Armstrong. I think it's time for Luke to go back to the bookstore to see if his audiobook therapist has a tape on relationship communication.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
If Hep Alien wants Mrs. Kim to serve as pseudo tour manager, they must abide by her "no profanity" rule.
Mrs. Kim: I need to see your songs.
Mrs. Kim: To see if you need to make any adjustments. Lyrics must be clean.
Zack: Okay, that’s where we draw the line. We will not change our lyrics.
Mrs. Kim: Oh, please. Prince made $57 million take home last year. He didn’t swear, and he mentioned God.
I guess Mrs. Kim missed those early Prince lyrics that (rightfully) valorize masturbation and make sexual puns using the Bible ("U don't need no money, U don't need no clothes/The second coming, anything goes"). I mean, sure, he came out and said that swearing was disrespectful and blah, blah, but he was already a superstar at that point!
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Gone are the days when our gal used to bring a book everywhere with her, just in case she had time to read. I wonder what book 10th grade Rory would have chosen to accompany her on a short jail stint. "Moby Dick" would have been appropriate. Lorelai does reveal that Rory once grounded herself for forgetting to return a copy of "The Iliad" to the library.
Best song of the episode:
As a troubadour fan, I have to go with his rendition of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." I hate the song that plays at the end of the episode and always cringe when it comes on. The artist, who I finally looked up today, is Claudine Longent, someone you might remember from this episode.
After Lorelai asks the desk cop five too many dumb fucking questions ("Are you, like, solving something?") and Colin and Finn joke about ordering jail appetizers, Rory is released from her cell and Lorelai drives them over to Luke's. Much to Taylor's chagrin, the two have a brief conversation in the Jeep before Lorelai heads in to pick up some doughnuts and lament about her lack of hand soap (for the fingerprint ink). She assumes that Logan is responsible for the boat debacle but Rory assures her that it was her idea. Luke tries to talk Lorelai down when she explains the situation to him in the diner, but her word salad spiral is unstoppable.
"Rory’s young. Young people do stupid things. I got pregnant. This is better, it’s not so permanent. Unless it’s on her permanent record, and then, oh, God, does that mean she can’t vote?"
I must interject to remind everyone that pregnancy is not permanent unless you want it to be 😉 (Or unless you live in Texas and now have to worry about your neighbors suing you for having an abortion. But I digress.)
When Lorelai returns to the Jeep with her doughnuts, she prompts Rory to explain the string of shitty decisions that led her to the clink. Aside from threatening to kick Mitchum's ass, Lorelai's reaction is reasonable, albeit devoid of well-deserved criticism specifically for the white ass crime of yacht thievery. She reminds Rory that Mitchum is not a journalism prophet, just a man with an opinion. As Rory apologizes, the horror of her actions finally seems to crystallize. Lorelai, still in good mom mode at this point, assures her they will figure it out. I'm not sure what I would do if my kid fucked up in this fashion. It would definitely force me to examine the amount of privilege I afforded them and how (if at all) I could do some damage control.
What I certainly wouldn't do is make light of my kid's massive fuck up by printing out mugshots for the refrigerator and reenacting a prison visit complete with two telephones. Joking about a felony before the court date is the definition of rich person nonsense. As Rory heads back to school for her last final of the semester, Lorelai reassures her that she'll find a lawyer without the help of Richard and Emily, a definite foreshadowing of the "betrayal" to come.
I partially understand Lorelai's refusal to use the Huntzberger family lawyers, although her motivation is more fueled by spite than desire for Rory to see that her idiotic actions have consequences. When Logan calls the house looking for Rory, Lorelai hits him with disdain that isn't exactly deserved despite his smarminess.
Logan: I know you must be really upset by this whole thing, but I want you to know my father’s lawyers are all over the situation, and –
Lorelai: Hey, you know what? I think your father has done just about enough here, okay?
Logan: Done enough?
Lorelai: Yes. So, thank your father for this. And I do mean all of this. But I think I can handle it from here.
Logan: But –
Lorelai: His help isn’t needed, Logan. I’ve got it.
This is immature, petty behavior c/o a sense of misplaced pride. If Lorelai really believes that Mitchum is to blame for Rory's misdeeds, why not let him pay to erase the damage?
After Logan realizes that his dad was the catalyst for Rory's uncharacteristic impulsivity, he confronts her about it at Yale. In response to her explanation, he says, "My father is a jackass! He’s a bully! He has zero interest in people’s feelings. It’s always just say what you feel, right or wrong, who the hell cares who you hurt." He also tells Rory that she needs to be honest with him if their relationship is going to work. For someone who is stupid enough to steal a boat with his girlfriend before sussing out rationale, this is a relatively sensible response.
As Lorelai deals with her "what about the kids?!" Luke drama, Rory spends her last final staring out the window in a listless haze. Later at Weston's, she tells Lorelai that she wants to take some time off from Yale. For someone teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown, this honestly doesn't seem like the worst idea. Rory should get a therapist and work through her issues with perfectionism and approval during her time off. Maybe Terrence, Paris' life coach, is available to assist? Instead of being supportive and trying to keep an open mind, Lorelai tells her that leaving school is not an option. Nothing she says is untrue, but the response as a whole is a little stage mom. Part of being a good parent is letting your kid make mistakes but helping them learn how to avoid repeat infractions. Trying to control another human never works out favorably.
In a panicked attempt to keep Rory in school, Lorelai visits her parents the following morning, explains the situation to them, and asks for help. They agree to wait until Friday night dinner to speak with Rory as a group. It's sad to me that Lorelai doesn't realize how manipulative she's being. Her entire life, she's railed against her parents for trying to control her using "we know what's best for you" logic. How is this any different than Emily and Richard trying to convince her to marry Christopher after finding out about her pregnancy? One could argue that Lorelai's motivations are pure — a desire to prevent Rory from doing something she'll later regret — and that the elder Gilmores were driven more by image concerns, but that feels myopic.
I don't want to get too in the weeds on this, but it's clear that Lorelai gets a great sense of pride from Rory's accomplishments. She might have gotten pregnant at 16 and never gone to college, but the daughter she chose to have was the valedictorian of her fancy private school. She excelled at the highest levels and fulfilled her Ivy League dreams. If she gives that all away because of one minor setback, how does that make Lorelai look? Lorelai thinks she's looking out for her kid's best interest, but she's like Emily and Richard in many ways; she's only better at deluding herself into thinking that she's somehow above it all. I do believe that she's legitimately concerned about Rory, but her methods of expressing it are just as problematic as her parents'.
When Rory arrives in tears at the elder Gilmore residence, it's no surprise that they react to her plight more sensitively than Lorelai; grandparents are often able to empathize with their grandchildren in ways they never could with their own kids. For once, they get to be seen as kind, loving saviors instead of life ruiners, so of course they seize the opportunity. As always, they handle the communication poorly, but the way they respond to Rory is undeserving of demonization.
When they break the news to Lorelai at Friday night dinner — that Rory will take some time off to live with them — she's furious. This exchange is telling:
Lorelai: So you went to her. Behind my back.
Richard: She came to me, Lorelai. She told me what she wanted in her own words!
Lorelai: Wow, so that does work occasionally with you, huh?
I'm sure it pisses Lorelai off to be double-crossed like this, but the armchair psychologist in me feels like her anger has more to do with the way that her parents give Rory the support she was missing during her own upbringing. She's so used to being Rory's friend and confidant that it kills her when she has to revert to the tactics used by her parents during her childhood in order to reach her ideal outcome. In analyzing this rift, I'm surprised to find that it is smarter than I initially thought. There actually is historical character motivation for these behaviors, as annoying as they all are.
I actually find it kind of disgusting when Lorelai proposes to Luke at the end of the episode. When she tells him about Rory's decision to drop out of Yale, he responds by detailing all of the methods they could use to control her and get her back on track. It comes from a place of love, but it's problematic as hell and I don't find it endearing in the slightest.
"First off, we call Yale and we tell them something like, uh, Rory had a chemical imbalance and she was mentally out of her mind when she told them she was dropping out. And then we get her out of your parents house whatever way we can. We lock her up in her room with you, because you can talk anybody into anything. And if worse comes to worst, we will drive her to school every day and we will follow her to class and camp out there to make sure she goes."
A good partner would help Lorelai think about the situation differently instead of enabling her to make more irrational decisions. To be fair, Luke does this in the next season when Lorelai and Rory's rift shows no signs of ending. In this moment, though, his reaction does nothing but affirm Lorelai, making her proposal feel especially egocentric.
- Taylor correctly identifies Lorelai's obsession with Marc Jacobs. Maybe this is why the town is so hellbent on him being a closeted gay in "AYitL." (Look at me, making problematic jokes just like Amy Sherman-Palladino.)
- Is Amy and Dan's wedding anniversary on June 3 or something? It's Rory's court date and the original date for Luke and Lorelai's wedding.
- I had no idea about the Whizzinator or Tom Sizemore's role in popularizing it. The Wikipedia page is a wild ride.
- I just noticed that Rory has a poster of Gloria Steinem posing as an undercover Playboy Bunny in her Yale bedroom. The story behind this is awesome.
- Another reason to hate Zack: he doesn't like French fries when you can "taste the potato." He is the type of dude who wishes that all food could be covered in Cool Ranch Dorito dust.
- As far as I can tell, La Mer never actually made something called "youth serum," so I don't think Lorelai's gift from Mike Armstrong is product placement. They do make other serums that range in price from $200-690 😳
- Emily mentions two friends: Sonny Kingsman and Mellie Rutgers. Fictional backstories: Sonny is a fine arts and antiquities dealer who sells forgeries to Connecticut's wealthiest morons; Mellie is a recent divorcee obsessed with starting her own line of purses a la Jennifer Coolidge's character in "SATC."
- Richard's lawyer friend changes from Charlie Newman in this episode to Charlie Davenport in the next.
- Davida is the maid du jour. She's too scared to answer Richard's dumb question about shoe colors. The actor who plays her, Laurel Moglen, shows up again in "AYitL" as one of the hikers in the "Fall" episode.
- Rory's journal entry after spending a few hours in jail: “I’ve never gotten negative feedback before and now my sense of self is shattered … like a skeleton in an atomic blast. Pulverized. I figured there would be no consequences. I’m a white girl; I should be able to steal whatever I want because I’m upset. Ugh, world!”