Directing and writing credits:
"Friday Night's Alright for Fighting" is directed by Kenny Ortega, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Ortega seems to be the director the Palladinos bring in when they want to do something different, like choreograph a dance or stunt scene. This episode is definitely memorable for the break in previously established shooting style. The handheld camera, shifting POV shots, quick editing, and use of close ups make this feel like an entirely different show for the duration of Friday night dinner. It's equal parts "Real Housewives" and Jason Bourne fight scene.
Ortega also directed these episodes:
- "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" - It would be a tremendous honor to be included in Paris' revenge notebook.
- "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" - JUSTICE FOR CAT KIRK.
- "Face-Off" - Stars Hollow High School's "mascot" is a minuteman AKA a soldier holding a gun. Cool vibe!
- "A Family Matter" - Asher Fleming's floppy ballsack is a hot topic of conversation.
- "Written in the Stars" - Lorelai reveals that she is indeed part of the Lambily.
- "You Jump, I Jump, Jack" - This is the beginning of the end for Lane Kim.
- "Emily Says Hello" - Why isn't Miss Celine helping Emily prepare for her first date in decades?
- "Come Home" - We find out that Mrs. Kim was once a member of "an all-girl Christian tambourine band."
- "Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out" - Megan and Tillie start plotting ways to ruin Luke's life after he spouts some gender normative bullshit.
- "He's Slippin' 'Em Bread... Dig?" - Zack, AKA tepid glass of bong water, screws over Hep Alien at their big showcase. He deserves to be [insert one of Rory's torture methods here]
Here's a new-ish interview with ASP where she talks about the key differences between each of her female protagonists.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
No one in the history of the universe has ever looked good in a fedora. Not Sarah Jessica Parker. Not Don Draper. Not even Cary fucking Grant. They make everyone look like a try-hard imbecile, even Beyonce. I just can't get behind them, especially when they are paired with loud ass patterns and other various tragic decisions. You know it's bad when Lorelai's "let's dress crazy" outfit barely even registers in light of this tragedy.
Like April, Bill seems to understand the fundamentals of power clashing. Neither of these vest/shirt combos should work but they somehow do.
I would also be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to Emily's chic painting cape. Like all of her painting tweeds, it is single use.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory channels Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" as she simultaneously writes and walks, paying zero attention to her surroundings and almost running over the first Black person we've seen at Yale in a minute. Had Logan not been mercilessly stalking her, she would have gotten a well-deserved vag bruise after walking straight into the garbage can.
I understand why Lorelai does it, but I wish she had made Rory break the Yale tuition news to the grandparents on her own. Instead of letting Rory call (or email) to inform them that Christopher is taking over the payments, Lorelai does all of the dirty work for her. Rory needs to learn how to handle confrontation on her own instead of depending on her mom's involvement forever. And if Rory wants to burn some bridges, Lorelai should sit back quietly and watch her light the match. At twenty-one years old, Rory is more than capable of making her own decisions and dealing with the consequences.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Rory tries her best to warn Paris that shit is severely off the rails at the paper, but Pantsuit Pinochet is in the middle of a full-blown psychotic break. Lane is completely MIA. If there were any justice in this world, she'd be off with an unrelated "Asian George Clooney," but it's only a matter of time before she's reunited with the clump of hair that lives in the shower drain.
Upon closer examination, Sookie is a worse friend than I initially thought. Yes, she does a lot of free, unappreciated labor for Lorelai, but she's also consistently quick to kick a woman when she's down. After Lorelai tells her the wedding has been postponed, Sookie immediately assumes that it's Lorelai's fault. She's all "Why do you do this? Why do you want to make yourself miserable?" as if she's not married to a sentient pile of horse shit. Yes, Lorelai has bailed on relationships in the past, but it's not cool to jump down her throat with negativity when she's trying to share something upsetting ... especially when wearing a fedora.
Best literary or pop culture references:
Logan's memory of "Sleepless in Seattle" is good enough that he remembers Suzy's (Rita Wilson) love for "An Affair to Remember." I'm no Logan fan, but I would probably give him a second chance after this casual display of rom com knowledge.
Logan: Excuse me but this is not slick. This is a Nora Ephron movie. Louis Armstrong should be warbling as we talk. So come on please, put me out of my misery. You promised you'd let me take you to dinner.
Rory: How 'bout Thursday night?
Rory: Yeah, I'll have turned in my article for the daily news and my Friday morning history class was canceled this week.
Logan: Okay, great. Thursday it is 7:30. And do not think of backing out, because I will cry and eat a pint of rocky road while watching "An Affair to Remember." With Rita Wilson
Stars Hollow weirdness:
The soda shoppe is hopping with the energy that only free samples can generate. As Kirk passes out little cups of European hot chocolate, Babette and Patty gossip about Tillie's face-lift while hurling insults at a townie named Ruthie (Dale Dickey!!!). My favorite moment is when Ruthie passive aggressively asks for a table and Babette tells her to "go lick the empties."
When everyone realizes that Luke is next door with April, they crowd around the ridiculous adjoining window to gawk. Seriously, how has Luke not put up a curtain to prevent this? He later bitches to Lorelai about how no one respects his privacy but ... he's in public, with a window directly facing into a business owned by a man who should have been stoned to death years ago. What did he expect?
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
One of the most memorable lines of the series comes from Lorelai at Friday night dinner. After Emily regales everyone with the story of her Shira DAR takedown, she muses, "I only wished I'd remembered to call her a cocktail waitress." Without missing a beat, Lorelai shoots back, "Oooh. That's my mother's version of the "c" word." Everyone's laughter feels entirely genuine, even Alexis Bledel's.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
I hate that we rarely see Rory reading in this season. As a journalism major at Yale, I would expect her to put down at least 25-30 books per year for school. We occasionally see her reading a newspaper, but the scenes of her with a book have greatly diminished from high school to college.
I would guess that most of the S6 books come from Lorelai. She isn't usually seen reading them, but at least they're visible on various shelves at her house and the inn. In this episode, Paul Anka knocks over a big pile that includes the following titles:
- "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band" by Neil Strauss (previously seen here)
- "The Big Love" by Sarah Dunn
- "The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family" by Mary S. Lovell
- "Girls Only" by Alex Witchel
Best song of the episode:
This show just doesn't feel the same without music.
There is nothing better than an episode of "GG" that features the holy trinity of unhinged Emily, Richard, and Paris. I always think about how Liza Weil originally auditioned for Rory and didn't get the part. If she had, we would be robbed of Paris "tie your tubes, idiot" Geller, but can you imagine the scenes with Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann? I don't dislike Alexis Bledel, but she is the weak link in the Gilmore family casting, and it especially shows in episodes like this where the acting is otherwise very strong. It doesn't help that Rory has been made into a mostly unlikable character that I have a hard time rooting for, even when she's trying to do something noble like save the Yale Daily News from embarrassment.
"Friday Night's Alright for Fighting" opens with Lorelai trying to sneak out of the house in the wee morning hours to meet Sookie at the flower mart. Amidst all the "Luke has a child" hubbub, Lorelai forgot to cancel their plans to scope out flowers for the now postponed wedding. Instead of being upfront about this with Luke, she evades his questions until it becomes awkward enough that she finally has to be straight with him. He offers to help her with all of the cancellations, but she turns him down, joking that it's no big deal. I wish that Lorelai would tell Luke how she honestly feels about the April situation, but maybe she's still processing or doesn't feel capable of dissecting her emotions just yet.
At the flower mart, Sookie pulls a Lorelai and makes the April news entirely about herself. She's all "I wonder if Jackson has a love child" and starts talking about how much "seed" he spread around before they got together. Not only is this a horrible reaction to Lorelai's news, but it's totally implausible. There is no way another woman has ever let Jackson touch her vagina.
Later, when Sookie comes over to collect Paul Anka for a doggie test drive, Luke leaves a message on Lorelai's machine that makes it very clear he has no intentions of introducing her to April anytime soon. Understandably, this depresses Lorelai. If my fiancé lied to me about a secret child for three months and then shadily prevented me from meeting her, we would be done ... or at the very least, in couples therapy. It all would be so much better if Luke had cleared the air with something like, "I would love for you to get to know April after she and I have gotten more used to each other. Is it okay if we have some time alone before I introduce you?" But without some sort of preamble, it reads as more unnecessary secrecy and an unwillingness to include Lorelai in this new part of his life.
Even if Lorelai felt unsure about how to voice it, she should have tried to explain her hurt feelings to Luke after his soda shoppe privacy rant. On a very basic level, she could have just told him that she actually saw him with April and felt shitty about being excluded. Lorelai is so terrified of fucking up her relationship that she hasn't stopped to consider how worthwhile it even is if it can't endure an honest exchange of emotions. (This is basically what Carolyn, the therapist in "Partings" tells her later in the season.)
While Lorelai tries to hide her Luke sadness, Rory mends fences with Logan. After some flirty coffee cart banter, they finally agree to have dinner on Thursday night. Everything seems like it's going relatively well for Rory until she opens a copy of the Yale Daily News and sees a missing photo in the sports section.
When confronted, Paris immediately goes on the defensive and blames other people for the incompetence. It's the kind of attitude that would be insufferable if you had to deal with it in person but I find it delightful from afar. In real life, I would have gagged at this unabashed hubris:
Rory: Paris, we cannot be publishing papers that have blank spots in them, and we cannot have all our photographers quit because there's not an endless supply of them.
Paris: Oh please, how hard is it to look through a hole and push a button? I can do it myself.
The next day, Rory returns to the newsroom before her date with Logan and quickly realizes that the paper isn't going to come out on time. No one called her to confirm receipt of her story because pretty much everyone quit, even "the little fellow who brought around sandwiches in the basket." When Rory crawls into Paris' bunker to confront her, she denies that there is an issue, outlining an absolutely insane work schedule that no human could possibly tackle. In true leading lady fashion, Rory takes charge of the situation, barking orders at the remaining staffers. I love that Rory criticized Paris for making everyone wear hats with numbers, yet refers to two guys as "t-shirt" and "saggy pants." You only get to talk shit on the number system when you actually know people's names.
In the frenzy of figuring out how to fix Paris' mess, Rory forgets to cancel her date with Logan. He shows up at the paper, shocked that she didn't call to ask for his help. Apparently, Logan knows technical economic jargon, types 90 words per minute, and despite being totally uninterested in the paper up to this point, has several stories banked that he can give to Rory. When it looks like the YND is going to lose their printing spot, Logan gets on the phone, works some of his blue blood charm, and saves the day. He and Rory kiss and they are once again officially back together. He somehow even managed to snag them sandwiches, wine, and a red Italian bistro candle so that they could still have their date night at the newsroom. He can do it all! Later in life, he overturns vehicular homicide charges with the same aplomb.
This act of kindness from Logan feels infinitely better than his dumb flowers/candy/coffee cart/letter from Lorelai apology attempts. He knows how important the paper is to Rory and does everything he can to help her succeed. Is he a smarmy motherfucker who will benefit from nepotism for the rest of his life? Yes. But I can see why infantile Rory finds his efforts attractive.
The other major plot point of this episode is, of course, Friday night dinner with the elder Gilmores. Now that Christopher is paying for Yale, there is no longer any obligation for Lorelai and Rory to see them on a weekly basis. As far as we know, Rory and Emily haven't spoken to each other since their blowout fight during the DAR Russian tea. The girls are expecting a tense night, but nothing could have prepared them for Emily's moonscape cold shoulder and Richard's obsession with the taste of ice. It's all very repressed in the typical WASP-y way. Here's an example:
Lorelai: Is mom still mad?
Richard: Mad at whom?
Rory: Mad at me?
Richard: Anger is a useless emotion Rory, It's a waste of time. Now, passive aggression? That's a lifetime's pursuit.
The powder keg finally explodes when Lorelai pushes everyone to acknowledge the tension. She tries hard to keep things light but once everyone stops pretending, shit really hits the fan. Emily and Richard are upset with Rory's lack of gratitude after they took her in for months and did the best they could. Emily tells her, "I never realized how spoiled you were, Rory, but I guess that's to be expected. Only children are always spoiled." This is a great double burn because it applies to Lorelai as well. Rory, in appropriately spoiled only child fashion, refuses to apologize for her legitimate mistakes. Lorelai is pissed because Emily and Richard refuse to acknowledge that she did warn them about how bad the Rory situation was. She reenacts the scene from this episode when she first asks them for help and they agree to her plan.
The only things that bring these people back together are Theresa's passion fruit sorbet and laughing about Shira Huntzberger's weight struggles. I love when they're all exhausted from fighting with each other for hours and Richard turns to Lorelai, who is sitting next to him on the couch. In a moment of levity, he asks how Luke is doing and Lorelai deadpan responds, "He has a kid." The night ends with a reminder of how disappointing Emily found Lorelai's teen pregnancy.
Aside from this being the first episode of "GG" to require a scopolamine patch, "Friday Night's Alright for Fighting" stands out because of the open family bickering. Weirdly enough, there's never the feeling that this fight will cause irreparable damage. Everyone says what is necessary for them to move on without residual bitterness. This feels like the Gilmores at their healthiest. Instead of snide remarks and unspoken frustrations, wouldn't it be nice if they actually said how they felt more often? Maybe then, they could move past the screaming matches and on to a calmer, more honest/stable place.
They don't quite get there after this fight, but it does mark a turning point, especially in Lorelai's relationship with her parents. She seems to realize that she values their involvement in her life (or maybe more accurately, Rory's life). More than ever before, she is willing to drop old grudges and move forward with less bitterness. It's weird to see her react so maturely here, yet so stunted with Luke. As one relationship tiptoes out of emotionally stunted repression, the other one barrels headfirst into it.
- The "Arnaz kid" mentioned at the beginning of the episode is a cute nod to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Surprisingly, I didn't hate "Being the Ricardos" as much as I thought I would. I wonder how ASP felt.
- Lorelai's story about the cow herderess with a yearning for 100-year-old scotch is a good example of how she can be simultaneously insufferable and charming.
- I'm not a huge Broadway person, so I knew nothing about the drama surrounding "Taboo" until it was mentioned in this episode. Here is Ben Brantley's bitchy review in the NYT.
- Lorelai is going to eventually need skin grafts if she keeps holding her coffee cups like this:
- Seeing Rory and Lorelai with their shoes off and feet up on the furniture at the elder Gilmore house reminds me of this episode earlier in the season. Emily ghosts them for Friday night dinner and they decide to order a pizza.
- I need to know what the birth control situation is in Stars Hollow. How the fuck are there so many accidental pregnancies?
- Other Paris highlights: her climate change rant, the moment when she rips up someone's story in front of them and throws the remains into the air like confetti, and her red "concentration" earmuffs.
- This might be Lorelai's dumbest (AKA best) dog shirt yet.