Directing and writing credits:
"The Perfect Dress" is directed by Jamie Babbit, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. You may have seen Babbit's work earlier this year on "Only Murders in the Building," which I thoroughly enjoyed. It starts kind of slow and I wasn't sure about the Selena Gomez casting in the first few episodes, but I was fully onboard by E3.
Here are Babbit's previous "GG" episodes:
"The Road Trip to Harvard" - Lorelai would rather eat fuzzy Certs than have an uncomfortable interaction with people she's never going to see again.
"Dead Uncles and Vegetables" - I'll take one hot blonde, hold the sand.
"Lorelai's Graduation Day" - No adult should ever refer to their actual father as "daddy."
"Take the Deviled Eggs..." - Lorelai can't wrap her mind around the fact that Sherry chose green balloons for her daughter's baby shower. It's time to move past the gender binary, ma'am.
"That'll Do, Pig" - I am sexually attracted to Emily Gilmore when she wears a chic af low ponytail.
“Lorelai Out of Water” - How can anyone approve of Lane and Zack after he creepily hits on Lorelai in this episode?
"The Big One" - Luke removes the Monte Cristo sandwich from the diner menu.
"Say Goodnight, Gracie" - Jess and his deadbeat dad bond over David Bowie.
"Those Are Strings, Pinocchio" - Paris eerily predicts Rory's adult downfall in her "most valedictorians become fuck-ups" speech.
"Ted Koppel's Big Night Out" - The fun flask is the "GG" take on Mary Poppins' magic bag.
“Girls in Bikinis, Boys Doin’ the Twist” - I appreciate how seriously Paris takes her sunscreen application.
"So... Good Talk" - Coffee makes Kirk's lungs hurt.
"How Many Kropogs to Cape Cod?" - Rory takes a sad selfie in front of a water cooler on day one of her Stamford Eagle Gazette internship.
"Blame Booze and Melville" - Kirk nearly has a stroke after Luke enacts a 10% price hike on toast.
I have no Palladino news for you, but I will start recapping S4 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" when it premieres on February 18!
Most batshit crazy outfit:
As far as I can tell, the "perfect dress" is a bunch of fake funeral flowers sewn on top of a semi-sheer, ill-fitted bodice that awkwardly connects to haphazardly layered tulle that cascades into seamed thigh poofs.
This mix of blush and cream washes Lorelai out and makes her look like a piece of paper that's been left in the sun for decades. The sash doesn't lay flat, so it draws attention to her midsection in an unflattering way. It almost looks like a cheap cummerbund that someone with zero taste might wear to prom. It actively repulses me. I actually felt a sigh of relief when the wedding was indefinitely postponed and we were never forced to look at it again.
When she and Sookie find the dress at a shop called "Something Old, Something New," they look like discount Carrie Bradshaws. Sookie is wearing a long, silk, rose-printed coat with a chunky color-blocked patterned scarf and a deep v-neck purple top over a lacy, deeper purple camisole, which is layered over a crinkly, neon green tunic. Yes, you read that right: Sookie is rocking five fucking torso layers not including her bra. And none of them match! Jack Donaghy's alter ego would call this "power clashing" but I call it a cry for help. The only thing I will say about Lorelai is that she has on a knotted cardigan sweater with a tie that reaches nearly to her knees.
I won't call them out every time, but Paris' pantsuits are uniformly awful. Every blazer she owns steamrolls her tits in the most unflattering way.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
After Lorelai sees Paris and Doyle's rundown apartment (props for continuity regarding Paris' money troubles), she gives Rory a lecture about how she shouldn't live there. This is Rory's response:
Look, this is the way it's supposed to be. I am in college. Don't you see? I'm supposed to live in a crappy apartment. I'm supposed to eat ramen noodles and mac and cheese for months. I've been living in a pool house with maids and fresh-cut flowers and mints on my pillow every night.
Let me translate that for you:
Look, I'm a poverty tourist! Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm a normal college student scraping together all of the loose change in the sofa so that I can enjoy quarter draft night at the local dive bar. It's a form of role playing that Logan and I introduced into our sex life a few months ago. We're no longer together, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it on my own.
Lorelai is most obnoxious when she's talking about Rory's school-mandated therapy with the disapproval of a scientologist. At one point, she says, "Well don't let them put you on any of those pills. Tom Cruise will be very upset." Tom Cruise, Lorelai, or you? My theory is that she doesn't want Rory in therapy because she knows it will expose all of the most problematic aspects of her parenting.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Zero. Lane and Rory are both wallowing in post-breakup sadness/irritation, but from different locations. Rory, who likely sees nothing wrong with it, listens patiently to Paris' speech about "ghetto ear" during the apartment tour and tactfully tries to advise her to cool it on her Stalin-esque ruling style at the paper.
Sookie, AKA BFOTB (best friend of the bride) is deep into planning Lorelai's wedding in a way that I find unsettling. At one point, Luke has a mild outburst over Lorelai's uncertainty surrounding a white wedding dress.
Luke: Of course you're gonna wear white. Brides wear white. That's the rule.
Lorelai: Says who?
Luke: Well, uh, you have to wear white. My mother wore white. Her mother wore white.
It's not Luke's place to dictate what Lorelai does or doesn't wear, but it's equally out of line for Sookie to discourage his involvement in the planning process. It's his special day, too, dammit, and maybe he wants to pick out the invitations and attend cake tastings.
Best literary or pop culture references:
During a rousing Krav Maga practice session, we learn that Doyle's safe word is Saroyan. Initially, he tries to fake out Paris by screaming "Steinbeck! Steinbeck!" but this ain't her first time at the rodeo. Maybe "Steinbeck" is Doyle's safe word for sex but "Saroyan" is his Krav Maga safe word? 🤔
Also, if you're wondering whether Paris' beloved Noam Chomsky poster is hanging in the new apartment, the answer is yes.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
Kirk saw Lorelai go behind the counter at Luke's, so now he thinks it's chill for him to do it, too. Unfortunately, he learns that behind the counter privileges are reserved solely for whoever Luke is fucking and Kirk isn't sure he's ready to take that step. The most important part of this exchange is the reveal of Luke's Scorpio status. I don't know shit about astrology, but here's what the Internet says:
The townies are mostly absent, but we do learn some minor tidbits when Sookie and Lorelai try to nail down a wedding date:
- Miss Patty is going to be in Baja the first two weeks in April.
- Babette's cat is expecting kittens during the last two weeks in April.
- Lulu (who Luke somehow doesn't remember from "Fiddler on the Roof") is going to Florida sometime between May 15th and June 1st
Oh, and Taylor put a block on the Doose's Market Wi-Fi (because of course).
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Paris' newsroom speech is harsh enough to give even the calmest person anxiety. After she announces the beats, she tells everyone,
The work will be hard. It has to be hard. Nothing less than perfect will be tolerated. Please remember that I am your editor. I am not your mother or your hugger. If you need some love, get a hooker. If you're having a bad day, find a ledge or a way to deal. My door is not open to you ever. You have five minutes to enjoy your cookies. Welcome to the Yale Daily News.
When Rory tries to make her see reason, she retorts,
Journalism is an art form, and the best art is created under repression, like Stalin's gulag. You think Solzhenitsyn could have written "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich" on a yoga retreat?
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Per usual, Rory isn't reading shit. Aside from the aforementioned Solzhenitsyn, Lorelai brings up "Angela's Ashes" when she sees Rory's new apartment. A few books are visible on Paris and Doyle's bookshelves, including David Morrell's "Assumed Identity" and Olivia Goldsmith's "Flavor of the Month." I can't picture either of them reading these books for pleasure or school, which makes their inclusion feel like a production design failure.
Anna mentions that April's back brace was not for medical reasons, but because she had just read Judy Blume's "Deenie," a YA book about a young girl who is diagnosed with scoliosis. I was always more of a Beverly Cleary fan, so I haven't read this one.
Best song of the episode:
This is one of those weird, music-less episodes. Lorelai does mention a bunch of musical acts that she and Rory could have seen in Atlantic City, including "Journey without their original lead singer, INXS without their original lead singer, Queen without their original lead singer, the Supremes without Diana, and, weirdly, the James Brown band without James Brown." After sadly missing Paul Anka by one week, they ended up seeing Tony Danza, who sings and tap-dances like a motherfucker.
Rory and Lorelai have returned from the belated birthday trip to Atlantic City (of all fucking places). Even in the cloistered town of Stars Hollow, it's impossible to escape mention of our disgraced former president and his dumbass criminal business ventures. Lorelai mentions that her lucky video poker machine is in the T***p Taj Mahal, which filed for bankruptcy multiple times and was finally demolished in 2014.
Although the trip didn't happen on Rory's actual birthday, the girls did their best to recreate the original plan:
Lorelai: We did the whole thing up right, you know. We did the martinis at the blackjack table.
Rory: And we pretended I was turning 21 while we were playing 21.
Lorelai: And we actually won and bought our twenty-one items.
Rory: Shot glasses, glow-in-the-dark coasters, salt and pepper shakers, pasties.
After suffering through Lorelai's bizarrely outdated take on therapy, Rory returns to Yale for winter semester. For lack of better options, she has decided to live with Paris again ... again. I hate that we never get closure on Paris' money troubles. Her apartment with Doyle is in a rough part of town about ten minutes from campus, so we can assume that she's still skint; however, it's unclear what she's doing for money. Did she get that job in the Walmart garden department? Is Doyle bankrolling her? There's some casual racism/classism (the doo-wop group, "ghetto ear," Rush Limbaugh as a crime prevention system) in Paris' explanation of the apartment, which is not shocking for someone who has been socializing solely with rich white people for her entire life.
As Rory runs around campus trying to add classes to her schedule to make up for her unplanned break, Logan smugly waits for her by the coffee cart. When she sees him, she doesn't even say anything, just turns and walks away. He later shows up at the Yale Daily News (in yet another attempt to see Rory) but ends up getting torn a new asshole by Paris, who tells him, "Your daddy doesn't scare me. Your mommy doesn't scare me. If you have a brother, a sister, or a really angry cat, they don't scare me, either." Rory, who is not amused with his half-assed attempts to engage with her, disappears as soon as she can.
Before her therapy session with Dr. Shapiro, Logan once again ambushes Rory, this time outside of her apartment. As she struggles to unlock the litany of deadbolts, Logan tells her that he loves her. But of course, he says a bunch of dumb shit first, including, "I don't fight, I don't want to be screaming at you at a bar. I can't take that. It's too much drama." Oh yes, because the person who starts a drunken dick measuring contest at Rich Man's Shoe and orchestrates regular Cirque du Soleil-esque events for the Life and Death Brigade is totally not into drama. Right.
To her credit, Rory ignores Logan's declaration and heads to therapy ... where she promptly loses her shit. My favorite moments are when she compares herself to Martin Luther King (and Dr. Shapiro calls her out on it) and when she refers to Dean as "my married ex-boyfriend who I lost my virginity to." This complete meltdown nets her two months of required weekly therapy, which we sadly never see or hear about. This could have been a nice self-improvement arc for Rory but instead, ASP uses it as a vehicle for dumb jokes about the mental health field. Anyone who thinks that modern adult therapy involves "hand puppets, inkblots, and inflatable anger bats" needs to wake the fuck up.
While Rory processes her feelings, Lorelai plans her wedding. At the beginning of the episode, Lorelai has no idea what kind of wedding she wants to have until she stumbles upon the "perfect" dress. She and Sookie are in another town, looking for a wedding invitation store, when they go into the dress shop for funsies and find Lorelai's tulle dream (in her size and on sale). As she later explains to Luke, "The minute I bought the dress, everything else fell into place." By the end of this outing with Sookie, she's nailed down the date (June 3), the flowers (daisies), the invitations, the location (a rose-covered church with an outdoor carousel), the catering company, and Luke's tuxedo. When she's talking about these plans — and her belief that the dress "was a sign" — it starts snowing, which we all know by now is another sign. Instead of sharing in her excitement, Luke looks like he's trying not to have a stroke.
When Lorelai shows up for lunch at Yale with Rory, she starts freaking out over how it's all feeling too easy with Luke. She says, "What if this dress is really a bad sign, not a good sign? What if the dress is telling me that it's so right, it's wrong?" As much as I hate this storyline, the impending doom of Luke and Lorelai's wedding is laid out nicely. I like the idea of Lorelai picking up on something that isn't quite right, even if it's dress superstition instead of Luke's hesitancy regarding June 3.
I don't understand how Luke is able to keep a secret this monumental from Lorelai. While she's running around and planning their wedding, he's meeting up with Anna and trying to figure out what level of involvement he wants to have with April. During their first meeting, he tells Anna that only wants to provide financial compensation and doesn't need a relationship. After looking at April's website (with the help of Kirk), Luke changes his mind and tells Anna, "I want to know my own daughter, and I want her to know me." How exactly does he think this will happen without Lorelai's knowledge? And what is it about this pathetic Angelfire site that has convinced him?
When Luke shows up at Lorelai's house at the end of the episode, presumably to tell her the news about April, she comes down the stairs in her wedding dress and renders him speechless. Wrecking Lorelai's happiness isn't going to be fun, but Luke needs to suck it up and rip off the band-aid.
Finally, in the saddest news, our underappreciated queen Lane Kim is back to living with her mom and angrily selling chairs at the antique shop. At one point, Zack shows up while Lane is working and tries to convince her that she has one of his CDs with "a crazy-looking chick on it" so that they can talk in her bedroom in private. Thankfully, Lane doesn't take the bait and ushers him out of the shop. As she slams the door, she screams "Hey, you break it, you buy it!" at a random customer. After this outburst, Mrs. Kim shuts the shop early, pulls down all of the blinds, and whips out a hidden bottle of soju (or sake). She and Lane take two quick shots and toast to moving on. I wish that Mrs. Kim could be this supportive all the time instead of only when Lane is clearly hurting.
- How dare they not show us the photo of Luke's doppelgänger, Derek McKinney, dressed as Dolly Parton.
- Doyle has dreams about walls collapsing in on him and Paris hasn't slept through the night since seeing "The Wizard of Oz" as a child (hence her late night craft corner, which has carried over to the new apartment). A match made in heaven!
- Lorelai wears a True Religion corduroy jacket at the beginning of the episode, which gave me a huge wave of nostalgia. I remember saving up and buying a pair of bootcut denim (with the stupid horseshoe design on the back pockets) from eBay circa sophomore year of college. I wore them until they got massive holes in the crotch and ratty hems.
- The two famous Barbaras that Sookie immediately thinks of are Streisand and Mandrell. When I was a little kid, I saw a made for TV movie about Barbara Mandrell called "Get to the Heart." It featured a deeply unsettling car wreck scene that triggered my first wave of memorable anxiety.
- Lorelai loves to make jokes about something being too gay for [insert ostentatious gay icon here]. In this episode, it's Divine. In The Road Trip to Harvard, it's Liberace.
- Doyle's Krav Maga sneak attack gives me these vibes: