Directing and writing credits:
"The UnGraduate" is directed by Michael Zinberg, written by David S. Rosenthal. Zinberg already has several "GG" directing credits to his name:
- "Afterboom" - Hep Alien performs a respectable cover of "Time Bomb."
- "But Not As Cute As Pushkin" - Paris and Doyle (my favorite couple on the show) fuck for the first time.
- "Pulp Friction" - Michel goes HAM on cosmetic procedures while vacationing in LA.
- "But I'm a Gilmore" - Pregnant Sookie wears a hideous unicorn tapestry poncho.
This is Rosenthal's first "GG" writing credit, but he has executive producer credits starting in S3. He's the guy who took over for Amy and Dan when they exited the show after S6. I think he gets a lot of hate because of S7, although I personally feel like he did what he could with the mess they left him.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
I will never understand Lorelai's obsession with ugly sweater vests. This one is by Tory Burch and features a bunch of multicolored playing card clovers. It would look much better with a dark oxford that isn't unbuttoned so deeply, creating a sloppy collar situation.
I'm not a huge fan of this floral tank top, either, but I do love it when characters on TV shows actually rewear clothes.
Rory also rewears her weird, glittery ballet shrug from "A House is Not a Home." It looks much better with a tighter wrap. At some point during her stay with the elder Gilmores, I assume that Emily revamped her wardrobe. Rory consistently wears higher-end labels going forward (mostly a fuck ton of Marc Jacobs).
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I'm not sure how much time has passed, but Rory is now a community service superstar, saying dumb shit to co-workers like, "Is that bag half full or half empty, Jules? Oh, you're making me an optimist, my friend." She's also chummy with Liza, the woman she fought with in the last episode, and working directly with the supervisor to optimize trash pickup strategy. I guess this trajectory is supposed to show us that Rory is capable of conquering any scenario, but I don't find this tacky teacher's pet behavior endearing.
I'm likewise unamused when Lorelai decides to go on a long-winded dilithium crystals rant instead of just asking Luke to watch Paul Anka while she works late. I do love how Luke's "Star Trek" obsession has become a running joke, though.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Lane is still away on her Jesus tour, so she and Rory don't interact. Paris freaks out when she realizes that Rory was serious when she said she was taking time off from school. This exchange has not aged well:
Paris: You know, you've put me in a very difficult position. Now, what if I end up renting the room to a rapist or serial killer?
Rory: I told you over two months ago that I was not coming back. And besides, I think Yale is pretty good about screening for rapists and serial killers.
Really, Rory? Are they?
I don't like the way Sookie pressures Lorelai with frantic "set the date" energy. She says that "agreeing to marry somebody is just as big a commitment as actually marrying them," which is bullshit. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind or delaying a decision for any reason. I think Sookie just wants Lorelai to be happy instead of self-sabotaging, but she could have conveyed that concern in a less incendiary way.
Best literary or pop culture references:
When Lane asks the members of Hep Alien what they're going to do when they finally get home from tour, Gil says,
"Wash my hair. Hug the kids, set them up in front of a "Harry Potter" movie, and then do my wife for, like, an hour."
Nothing but respect for Gil's unabashed horniness. Tangentially related, I went on a spree of Amoeba's "What in my Bag?" videos and stumbled upon Sebastian Bach's. It's as drunk/charming as you would expect.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
The townies are MIA. Babette does save the day twice (offscreen) by letting Lorelai shower at her house after five construction workers see her naked (fucking TJ), and by giving Luke the vet's home address after Paul Anka eats chocolate.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Michel and Sookie are delightfully bitchy about their hatred for Paris.
Lorelai: She has a tough exterior, but on the inside Paris is ...
Michel: Tokyo Rose!
Lorelai: She's lonely. She does not have a lot of friends.
Sookie: No! Shocker!
Sookie's line reading kills me every time. I love it when Michel hums the Wicked Witch of the West's theme song upon Paris' approach, too.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory is too busy licking assholes at community service to read any books. Lorelai calls Sookie "Captain Ahab" (from "Moby-Dick"), presumably because of her single-minded fixation on Lorelai's wedding.
Best song of the episode:
Once again, Hep Alien performs a solid cover, this time of Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone." I would 100% hire them to play at my imaginary house party circa 2002.
Without Rory in her life, Lorelai is lonely and looking for external validation that will make her feel good about herself again. In this episode, she provides an extensive breakfast spread for the construction workers — brown sugar cinnamon and frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts, doughnuts, bagels, Shredded Wheat, coffee, and muffins — and rewards TJ for his idiocy by hiring him as a pretend contractor. Maybe she's doing this out of the goodness of her heart, but I think it has more to do with the hole of need created by Rory's absence. A lot of Lorelai's identity is wrapped up in being a mom/BFF to an Ivy League angel, so she's struggling without that relationship and the social gravitas it gives her. I see no other reason to put TJ in a position of fake power and risk yet another sledgehammer disaster.
The same goes for Lorelai's biweekly lunches at the Dragonfly Inn with Paris. Girlfriend is desperate if she's willing to frequently dine with someone so exhausting. As much as I love Paris as a character, there's no way I would want to spend more than fifteen minutes interacting with someone like her. She actively antagonizes the waitstaff, criticizes Sookie's food, and casually remarks to Lorelai, "The service here sucks." In other words, she's a colossal cunt. Lorelai is prepared to suffer through these lunches ad infinitum until Sookie and Michel beg her to cancel them. Just as she's about to initiate the breakup, Lorelai freaks out when Paris mentions Rory and is forced to double down on the commitment.
Paris: I'm so stupid. I mean why else would you want to have biweekly lunches with me?
Lorelai: There are many, many reasons. And they will come to me just in a second.
Paris: I'm blind. I walk blindly through life.
Lorelai: No. Now, you're not blind.
Paris: I'll leave. I'll go right now.
Lorelai: Oh, Paris, please. (stops her from leaving) I'm sorry. You mentioned Rory, and a thing went off in my brain. It's just a mother thing. But I love our lunches. I really do. Please stay.
Lorelai is trying to fill a Rory-sized hole, but none of her replacements/distractions are working. Paul Anka is probably her most successful substitute so far. He can't object, so Lorelai is free to project as many insane quirks onto him as she wants ("only pet the dog with your non-watch hand"). It doesn't help that Michel and Sookie keep pushing her to set a wedding date, even though her life is so in flux that she doesn't seem prepared to think about it yet. It's wild to me that Sookie, her closest friend, doesn't sense the root cause of her hesitation. Lorelai isn't exactly straight with her when she says,
"Sookie, come on! I got men running around my house, a completely destroyed bedroom. Things are crazy right now. When they calm down, and Luke and I get a chance to breathe, we will talk and set the date. Until then, can we drop it, please?"
It isn't until the end of the episode when she is finally explicit with someone (Luke) about her need to put things on pause until the Rory situation is rectified, but Sookie should have been able to interpret the subtext. Thankfully, Luke is sensitive to Lorelai's feelings and doesn't try to push her into anything before she's ready. When TJ starts blathering about turning Rory's bedroom into a "pork smoker room" during the remodel, Luke shuts that shit down quickly, too. He's a legitimately good partner to Lorelai throughout this rift, which is all the more upsetting considering what's to come.
Like Lorelai, Rory keeps busy in an attempt to distract herself from the fact that her life is falling apart. Along with firmly establishing herself as the queen bee of community service, she fully ingratiates herself with Emily by performing reconnaissance on Constance Betterton, her sworn DAR enemy. My favorite scene takes place in the DAR office, where Rory presumably leaves Sandra Tarkington on hold forever to gossip with Emily about Constance's Altoids box full of pills.
To become a member of the DAR, you apparently need to prove relation to a verifiable Patriot through documented, notarized genealogy. Have you ever heard of anything whiter? Only ~12.5% of the American soldiers in the Revolutionary War were Black and most of them were slaves, so the barrier to entry is high. There apparently are Black members, but it's hard to gauge how many because the organization doesn't collect data on race. Since the first Black woman, Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly, was just elected to the national board in 2019, I have to assume that the membership is still overwhelmingly homogenous.
Paris is the only person actively pulling Rory back to reality, albeit in a semi-delusional way. After Rory turns down her apartment offer once again, Paris bluntly digs into the rationale for her Yale hiatus:
Paris: Is this about the boat?
Rory: How do you know about the boat?
Paris: Oh, come on. It's out there.
Rory: Out there? Why is it out there? How is it out there?
Paris: I read about it on Rebecca Thurston's blog.
Rory: You're kidding.
Paris: Dead serious.
Rory: I thought Rebecca Thurston's blog was just about all the guys she has sex with and how much she hates her mother.
Paris: That's true. But the boat you guys stole belongs to Dr. Daniel Zimmerman, whose son is Jason Zimmerman, who Rebecca Thurston had sex with on her father's boat last semester.
Rory: I can't believe I'm in the blogosphere.
Paris: Hey, see for yourself. Just Google "Rory Gilmore sex boat."
I would have loved Rebecca Thurston's blog, probably a LiveJournal, in 2005. There are few things better than reading about the sex life of someone you tangentially know. I would link you to my college blog, but I locked that shit down a long time ago, along with my high school Xanga focused solely on running and Jesus. (An aside: does anyone remember Juicy Campus?)
Without Yale to obsess over, Rory throws all of her energy into completing her community service hours and hanging out with Logan, who has just returned from a European vacation. After they fuck on the brand new pool house couch, Logan becomes visibly nervous when the topic of school arises. He says he doesn't want to bum Rory out by mentioning it, but she delusionally insists that she's fine. She says, "I mean... look. Yale was a wonderful chapter in my life, but I've moved on. I have my work. I have my new pad. I'm just really happy with where I am right now." SURE, JAN. Nothing says "I have my shit together" quite like stealing a boat, getting arrested, and putting an Ivy League education on pause to complete court-mandated community service. I can't decide if Rory is truly deluding herself or trying to preserve a veneer of dignity for Logan, but it's cringe-worthy either way.
As Rory prattles on about her soup kitchen drama during their breakfast the next day, the emptiness of her life seems to solidify. Logan leaves to go meet with his faculty advisor and Rory is left with half-full mimosas and 127 hours of community service to complete. As she leaves the restaurant and stumbles upon freshman orientation at Yale, the look on her face says it all. This image dissolves into a superimposed image of Rory at the DAR induction ceremony. It's an unusual technique for this show, but a good visual representation of the way that Rory's life has changed from her own first day to now.
- Paris has so many good lines in this episode, but one that I always think of during low self-esteem moments is, "I mean, right now, my ass is probably as good as it's ever going to get. I should exploit that, right?"
- Five construction workers saw Lorelai naked after TJ "accidentally" sent them upstairs too early. When Luke shows up after the incident, one of the men looks Lorelai up and down creepily and then pats him on the shoulder. Luke should have fired him immediately.
- What pills do you think are in Constance's Altoids box? My husband says "mood stabilizers," which ... duhhhh.
- I love everything about Hep Alien in this episode: Lane's hardcore money-saving tactics, Zack's long hair and beard, Gil's generous comparison of the church AV room to the Whisky a Go Go, and Brian's toothpaste admission. I would watch a spinoff about these lovable weirdos and their quest to become the next Nirvana.
- Althea (of Branford cereal girls fame) is the woman leading freshman orientation at the end of the episode.
- Tom's description of TJ would make a great self-deprecating Twitter bio: "Terrible instincts, zero follow-through."
- Okay, I lied ... one more Paris line: "Sorry I'm late, I was interviewing roommates. And all I can say is build an ark, 'cause it is seriously time for a flood." This probably should have been the sharpest insult but I'm too lazy to change it now. It reminds me of her finest work from S4.
- I hope you understand that I had to skip over most of the TJ bullshit for self-preservation. I do love it when he compares himself to Jesus and Luke's immediate reaction is "Yeah, you're exactly like Jesus. That was my point."
- Yanic Truesdale is from Montreal, so it's a nice little in-joke for Paris to mock his accent by calling him Canadian.