'Gilmore Girls' Season 6, Episode 21: Driving Miss Gilmore

'Gilmore Girls' Season 6, Episode 21: Driving Miss Gilmore

Hi there — Saul Sugarman here again to bring you a recap on perhaps my all-time favorite "Gilmore Girls" episode, featuring Emily in her tour de force beratement of Lorelai as she totes her mom around to various errands in a bullet-proof SUV. Rory also gives us her utmost snobby humblebrag to my alma mater WSJ, and I have some thoughts.

I don’t have any "GG" news to share, but I thought it a notable mention that Alexis Bledel won’t be returning to "The Handmaid’s Tale" for season 5. For me, this is her most significant role outside "Gilmore Girls" and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Who knows what her reason is, but with all the shit going down at the U.S. Supreme Court with respect to women’s reproductive rights, I don’t know that I’d want to be reminded of it at my day job either.

If Rory actually became a foreign correspondent, I could totally see this being her vibe.

Directing and writing credits:
“Driving Miss Gilmore” is directed by Jamie Babbit and written by Daniel Palladino. We remember Babbit for directing some eighteen episodes of "Gilmore Girls," including some highlights:

Blame Booze and Melville” - Lorelai decides eating an apple means she’s having a baby.
The Perfect Dress” - Not the perfect dress.
That’ll Do, Pig” - Korn stayed awhile in Connecticut and planted some tulips for Richard’s mom.
So... Good Talk” - Lorelai gets out of a parking ticket by saying Luke’s boat is supposed to be auctioned off for charity, for the “National Boating for Peace and Low Blood Sugar Organization for Tiny Children.”
The Big One” - A little ashamed to admit here that I admire Paris’s intimidation tactics for the school speech contest and have at the very least employed them during board game nights.

I have seen so much of Babbit’s 2000s directorial work without knowing it at the time, including episodes of “Alias,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Ugly Betty.” Do you think the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” (2007) aged poorly as a film title? Another of Babbit’s works that she also wrote. I haven’t seen it, but now I want to.

It sounds like this movie contains some outdated gender politics, but I'm still intrigued.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
A competitive selection of typical mid-2000s "Gilmore Girls" weird looks made it difficult to choose a winner. Rory has on some sort of belted top while picking Logan up from the hospital. Lorelai is rocking the shrug while driving Emily around. Jackson’s overalls feel oddly form fitting to me.

Still, I have to give the award to Paris for her bad-fitting polka dot cardigan with some sort of frilly edge. The runner up is Liz, who seems to have borrowed from Logan’s trashy suit blazer collection.

Everyone owned some version of this polka dot cardigan in 2006, likely from Forever 21.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory calls up a Wall Street Journal reporter to announce everything Mitchum said about her is accurate, but unfair. What sort of bizarre humblebrag spoiled brat world is Rory living in that she doesn’t actually see this as the PR win that it is? Instead of directing her ire toward the person who deserved it — Mitchum is a Dumpster fire who deserves a lot of hate at this point — Rory calls a journalist to harass her, then caps off the conversation by saying no one will remember the story anyway. FWIW this sort of thing happens all the time in journalism. But as a journalist, Rory really should have known better than to be rude to someone else.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Paris came through alongside Doyle to care for Logan while he recovers from his BASE jumping incident. I am the sort of friend who often hates doing favors for other friends, but it looks like these two are really into their caregiving duties while Rory is at the paper.

Lorelai shows up unannounced at Sookie and Jackson’s at what looks to me like midnight. Do you know how often I let in anyone unannounced, even if it’s in the middle of the afternoon? Never. In fact maybe five or seven years ago, I showed up unannounced at my BFF’s place in Oakland after hosting an event there, and it was probably also around 11:30 p.m. I told her my phone was dead, and I needed to charge it, and there was this insanely hot man who had messaged me on Grindr. She never let me in, but instead let me use an outlet outside and brought a charger out. Recounting this to you now, it’s one of those times I think of myself in the present day and go, “I’ve always been a well-adjusted adult,” and then remember shit like this. WTH was I doing?

Jackson and Sookie are saints for not pretending to be asleep.

Best literary or pop culture references:
The episode title refers to the late 1980s Pulitzer Prize-winning play and Academy Award-winning film “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989).

My personal favorite references happen when Lorelai comes to get Emily for the day’s errands.

Lorelai: I’m sorry Mrs. Onassis, I was looking for my mother.

Lorelai: [Mumbling] Ridiculous Sandra Bernhard overdramatic-
Emily: My hearing’s just fine, Lorelai.

I grew up with Sandra Bernhard on "Roseanne," and didn’t connect the dots she was a theater queen and gay icon; I just learned today she is coming to San Francisco for a few Pride month shows. Also, and this note is especially for Lindsay: did you know Sandra was originally offered Miranda Hobbes on "Sex and the City"? She told Howard Stern the script was bad and the pay sucked.

It sounds like Sandra Bernhard agrees with Minnie Driver on SJP.

Finally, am I the only one who finds it informative when Richard talks about Mt. Rushmore being in South Dakota? I swear I always forget where that thing is until this episode reminds me.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
My favorite side plot is when Michel learns he’s been drinking two percent milk in his morning coffee, thanks to an error the manufacturer had with the top of the milk bottles. He continues to work while jogging in place and giving us Jane Fonda squats and poses.

Sookie and Jackson run around town trying to ditch sixty-eight pounds of marijuana because apparently, before firing the Templeton brothers (?), Jackson told them to “weed” the back half acre. Sookie running around in a blind panic is some of my favorite Melissa McCarthy, although this subplot as whole felt like the writers were grasping at straws a bit.

We learn the town troubadour was hired to open for Neil Young, setting up a great moment next episode for finally some music outside of “la las.”

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Something about Lorelai publicly degrading her injured mom in blackout sunglasses always makes me giggle. I give the “one-liner” award to Lorelai after she calls her mother a martyr. But I love this whole exchange:

Loreen: [To Emily] I hope you’re feeling alright.
Lorelai: Oh, she’s fine. Dragging that cross around with her made her a little tired.
Emily: Loreen, this is my daughter, Lorelai. She has headaches, and that tends to make her babble.
Loreen: Oh, I’m sorry. Can I get you some aspirin?
Lorelai: No thanks, I’m okay. I’ve had the headache for thirty-eight years.

If Loreen AKA Susanne Spoke looks familiar to you, it's probably because she had countless bit roles in the '90s on shows like "Step by Step" and "Clueless"

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
I don’t think Rory knows what books are anymore, but we do learn she knows quite a bit about torture thanks to a paper she wrote on the Attorney General:

Rory: The man should be drawn and quartered.
Quartering’s too good for him. He should be eighth-ed, sixteenth-ed.
He should be stretched on a rack, iron maiden-ed, strappado-ed!

Best song of the episode:
Saul forgot to include this one, so I'm popping in to say that it's obviously the town troubadour's rendition of "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." Maybe this is what piqued Neil Young's manager's interest.

This filler episode quietly became among the best of "Gilmore Girls," and I return to it at least once a year. Lorelai has finally entered a stride with Emily such that she acts irritated to care for her mother all day, but to my eyes, there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

These glasses are a great look for Emily, ever when she hasn't been temporarily blinded.

We begin by learning Emily is going to get LASIK because she hates wearing glasses, although I can’t remember seeing her wear glasses on any episode of "Gilmore Girls." This comes up at family dinner, where the elder Gilmores slip in that they’re taking all that extra tuition they’re no longer spending on Rory — Christopher is paying for Yale now — and donating it to Yale in order to get a building in her name.

I’ve had so much pent-up snarkiness on this subplot over the years: Rory is about a year away from graduating Yale, so I’m going to say her remaining tuition is beneath six figures. But Richard plans to “add some funds from our foundation” (giving me Clinton vibes, even though we all know the senior Gilmores are Republican), apparently adding up to an auditorium, cultural center, observatory, center for international affairs, library, art gallery, ancient history museum, medical research laboratory, political science or anthropology building. This reminds me of that moment at the charity event when Shira Huntzberger declares, “Well Emily, there’s your money and then there’s our money.” Exactly what kind of tens of millions of dollars do the Gilmores plan to pour into this building? And we all can’t wait for "AYitL" Rory to visit her alma mater and think to herself, “Yes, here is the Rory Gilmore Astronomy Building in 30,000-point font to highlight my place in history as a washed up freelance journalist who moved home with mom.”

In ten years, your claim to fame will be one piece in "The Talk of the Town." Depressing.

Rory cares for Logan in a way I personally find sweet, and it also shows us the pair have reconciled after that whole moment Logan screwed a gaggle of bridesmaids. There is nothing like Logan almost dying from his own stupidity to bring these two lovebirds back together after a winter season of recreational sexual activity, or as I like to reflect on it, that time Rory and Logan considered an open relationship.

Over at the Dragonfly, Michel, Sookie and Jackson are caught up in their sub-dramas, and Lorelai is still avoiding Luke and not saying how she feels about their postponed nuptials, which makes a little sense given all the hubbub with April and her birthday party last episode. Personally, I’m really not a subtle person when it comes to communication, so I can track logically why Lorelai would act this way, but if I were Lorelai in this relationship, the conversation would be more like:

Luke: Staff meeting, I didn’t know you had a staff meeting. Did it just come up?
Lorelai: No, you canceled our wedding, and that’s made me not want to see you, talk to you or have sex with you.
Luke: What? I’m sorry, it’s just all that’s happened with April–
Lorelai: Yeah, you had a kid, not a lobotomy. What the fuck is your problem?

But instead, Lorelai uses Michel's milk mishap as an excuse for her absence. Pathetic.

C'est la vie. Away on business, Richard soon summons Lorelai to aid Emily, whose LASIK went badly and now can’t see anything, even though she looks amazing in her Jackie O. sunglasses. To no one’s surprise, Emily has fired all her support staff, including the housekeepers who “ate everything that wasn’t nailed down” and the errand boys whose pants hung down below their underwear. “No one was worse than the driver he got me,” Emily concludes. “Ever met the cab drivers in Prague? Well they would hide their wallets from this man. Plus I think he had a gun in his pocket.”

She tells Lorelai they must drive around in some scary SUV so that she’s not “exposed to the elements.” I have seen this series so many times and still always cackle at this:

Emily: They say it's the car Jay-Z uses when he's in town. I assume that's an entertainer of some sort. The windows are bulletproof. They kept saying that as if it's a selling point. I told them I was not paying extra for bulletproof windows. I haven't been strafed in years!

Are these like ... Jay Z's bottles of Hennessey?

This part of the episode would be easier just to quote the one-liners between Lorelai and Emily because they’re so funny. Two of them live in my head without even watching the episode, both from Emily:

  • “If I’m willing to pay full price, then I deserve to have my drug bottle say Valium on it.”
  • “Don’t forget to lock the door, I’m leaving my bananas here.”

At their final stop, Emily reveals to Lorelai plans to buy her and Luke a house as a wedding gift. To my eyes, this is another solid moment in the episode that shows how close Emily and Lorelai have grown. It feels like a heartfelt gift with no strings attached, showing Emily accepts Luke and wants the two of them to be happy. Lorelai tears up and finally tells Emily the wedding is “not gonna happen.” Much as Emily is often portrayed as a villain, I think it must be hard to see Lorelai have these almost-marriages. First with not wedding Christopher, then Max, now Luke. Emily handles the situation compassionately, quietly trying to comfort Lorelai.

This is one of the nicest Emily/Lorelai interactions in the series.

Random observations:

  • Lorelai, when she didn’t know what errands they would be running: “Mom, is it dealing in human trafficking? 'Cause I'm an excellent people person.” 🤣
  • Sookie’s last-minute babysitter is Becky’s crazy goth sister who wears the snake around her neck and eats all of Sookie’s Eggos. We’ve all known one of those, Sookie.
  • There’s a whole subplot with Liz having a baby and her dumping TJ because she’s afraid of repeating what happened when she turned Jess into a Holden Caulfield-acting monster. I removed it from the main recap because that’s just how much this subplot ever interested me. It includes a moment highlighting Luke’s hetero-masculine bravado when he threatens to punch TJ in a bar. I will say, I did like the actress from Liz’s support group of single moms who said, “And I'm like, ‘I don't care if you've been on your feet all day at that crappy job that doesn't pay enough that we can't even go to Dollywood once in a while.’” I have never been to Dollywood, but this moment always makes me want to go and makes me wonder how expensive it is.
LP note: Saul is talking about my beloved Dale Dickey, last seen here.
  • At the top of the episode, Rory and Lorelai are arguing about some famous person who dyed her hair brown. I’m guessing this is Gwyneth Paltrow in “Sliding Doors” (1998) because, if I recall, she’ll come up shortly again in season 7. I’m wondering if Lindsay agrees, though. [Note from Lindsay: I always figured they were talking about Ashlee Simpson because of the sister comparison comment.]
  • Emily’s ear, nose, and throat doctor is “Dr. Sugarman,” my last name. Living in California, I always tell people Sugarman is a common Jewish surname, even though most people think I made it up in order to boost my public persona.
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