'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 12: To Whom It May Concern

'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 12: To Whom It May Concern

Directing and writing credits:
“To Whom It May Concern” is directed by Jamie Babbit and written by David Babcock. Babbit has been involved with "GG" since S2 and was last seen on "Driving Miss Gilmore," the episode where Michel mistakenly drinks 2% milk and has an orthorexic breakdown. Most recently, she's worked on S2 of "Only Murders in the Building" and "A League of Their Own." Has anyone watched the latter? I recorded a podcast episode on the film earlier this year but have been too nervous to watch the series after reading a few middling reviews.

I will definitely watch it eventually, if only for the impeccable styling.

Babcock was last seen on "French Twist," the episode that got David S. Rosenthal banned from France for overusing shitty Eiffel Tower rear projection.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
You know what they say: the couple who wears horrible sweaters together stays together, even through crimes of reproductive coercion.

The snowflakes remind me of an extended happy trail 🤢

Later, Sookie wears a nauseating fair isle print while ranting about Jackson to an idiotically-scarved Lorelai. DrDavon pointed out in the comments section that it probably wasn't easy for the costume department to find cool clothes in Sookie's size at the time, which is something worth acknowledging. Even now, many popular retailers still have limited size ranges. With that being said, whoever designed this jacket deserves to be arrested.

This pattern gives me morning sickness and I am not pregnant.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
S7 Rory doesn't read and is terribly dull, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like she's an evolved version of herself. She actually expresses her feelings, apologizes when warranted, and is generally less tolerant of Lorelai's nonsense. I don't find her particularly annoying, even when she goes on an insecure Bobbi rant or kowtows to Marty's sociopathy. At least there's growth because she admits to her fuck ups and tries to improve, which is all anyone can really ask for from a fellow human being.

Lorelai, on the other hand, has completely regressed and turned into an even shittier version of herself this season. In terms of minor offenses, I hate the way she negs Christopher for caring about his appearance. Let this man wear his peach shirt and condition his hair in peace.

Is this the sweatshirt he got "as a treat" for his no-strings-attached tuition payments?

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Rory and Paris have one of the nicest friend moments since S3's C-SPAN meltdown. Instead of leaving Rory to anxiety spiral in the wake of her apology letter, Paris approaches Lucy in the dining hall and demands a status update. She says, "In case you didn't know it, Rory is a great person, and she does not deserve to be treated this way. Anyone should feel lucky to call her a friend. I know I do, and you're throwing away one of the best." Later, Rory thanks her for the compliment in a truly appreciative, vulnerable way. She also comes around to the madness of Operation Finish Line, realizing that even if it's unimportant to her, it means a lot to Paris.

That's an ACLU poster between them in the background.

Wearing all of those cross necklaces must have imbued Lorelai with right-wing religious tendencies because her reaction to Jackson's abuse admission is shockingly blasé. She believes his actions were wrong, but that Sookie is now in the position where she has no choice but to make the best of an unfortunate situation. "Everwood," which was also on the WB, featured an abortion storyline in 2003, so I'm not convinced this backward-thinking mentality is c/o the network but I would love to know more about how it all went down in the writers' room at the time. It's jarring to see Planned Parenthood and ACLU posters juxtaposed with this world where abortion seemingly does not even exist as an option.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Is anyone surprised by Paris' "Heathers" (1989) mention? I bet it was the inspiration for her revenge notebook.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
The townies are absent, but check out the new hot chocolate stand near the gazebo. Like Emily, I, too, would kill myself if I lived in a place where my next-door neighbor walked into my house with a pie, wanting to chat, but I wouldn't mind a town with adorable shit like this:

I wonder how much d this person had to s in exchange for a ho cho permit.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Paris swiftly eviscerates poets everywhere when she says Rory might as well apply for the Iowa poetry prize because a poem "takes twenty minutes to write, two if it's haiku." Sylvia Plath and Sonia Sanchez will exact their vengeance in the afterlife.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Sookie brings a stack of Sue Grafton books on her failed ski trip, including "R is for Ricochet" and "S is for Silence." I haven't read either, so I can't comment on whether or not the latter "sucks." A few other books are visible in Sookie's house when Lorelai is there to babysit: "McCall's Cook Book" (1973), "The Encyclopedia Of Popular Antiques" (1980), and "Elaine Slater's Book of Needlepoint Projects" (1978). John Waters says, "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!" Somehow, the assortment at Sookie and Jackson's is worse than nothing at all.

Joe McGinniss' "Blind Faith" (1989) is still in Paris and Rory's apartment. It first showed up in S6's "Just Like Gwen and Gavin." When Paris approaches Lucy in the dining hall, she's reading Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth" (1942), presumably for one of her drama classes.

She even has a pencil tucked into the pages for note-taking.

I haven't seen this play, but based on Mary Martin's entire look/vibe in this picture, I think I need to track it down. The first iteration starred Tallulah Bankhead, which further piques my interest.

Mary Martin (right) looks like she's in a different play from everyone else.

Best song of the episode:
No music, only la-las. I mean, I assume la-las are present ... they're basically white noise to me at this point, so I rarely clock them. Speaking of, what does everyone think about Cake Kemps' rankings?

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A post shared by Cake Kemps (@cakekempsmusic)

Thoughts:
After embarrassing himself for half a season, Christopher finally realizes that Lorelai is not over Luke. Any emotionally intelligent person would have noted this immediately, but we're dealing with someone dumb enough to get multiple women pregnant accidentally (and that was pre-TBI), so it took him a few months. Here's a pro-tip: If your relationship is so tenuous that you must make a legal commitment to keep it going, you better prepare for it to all come crashing down eventually.

It's hard for me to empathize with Lorelai or Chris because both believe that denying reality will make it cease to exist. Lorelai thinks that if she compartmentalizes her feelings well enough, Chris won't realize she's still in love with Luke; Chris thinks that if he keeps playing the role of loving husband, Lorelai will forget not only about her previous engagement, but about the years spent solo parenting when he was in California doing lines of coke out of strippers' buttholes (I assume). This is not the behavior of healthy adults, but two damaged people who never dealt with their childhood trauma and as a result, have fallen into a dysfunctional relationship built on lies of omission and unspoken resentments.

At least Lorelai gets a sweet new flatscreen TV out of this disaster.

This season is far more serious than those in the past and as a result, it doesn't feel like the same show. It's harder to build in fun/light moments when dealing with serious themes like emotional dishonesty, unwanted pregnancy, life-threatening health conditions, and uncertainty about the future. In this episode and throughout most of the season, Paris is one of the only characters who brings real levity, not just jokes in the form of pop culture pitter-patter. The Palladinos' writing style has always been something that people either love or hate. Even in the early seasons, my husband struggled with what he calls the "idiot parlance" of the show. While I don't exactly agree, I understand what he means, especially in S7 when outside writers try applying this specific style to more traditional modes of storytelling. I could write an entire essay about why this season feels so wrong (and maybe I will), but for now I suppose I'll address the specific episode at hand.

When Lorelai neglected to mention Luke's custody letter in "Santa's Secret Stuff," it was only a matter of time before Christopher found it and suffered the ego blow needed to end the marriage. He can't even enjoy coffee from Luke's Diner without feeling insecure; of course he'll meltdown over Lorelai praising Luke's father figure-esque presence in Rory's life. Don't get me wrong, Chris has every right to feel hurt by this letter. If not by the contents, then by the fact that Lorelai hid it from him. She knew not only would Chris take it personally, he would correctly identify it as a declaration of love for Luke.

Why would Lorelai, person who never cooks, have this large string of wall garlic?

Lauren Graham's performance in this scene reminds me of the S6 finale when she begs Luke to marry her, reminding him of her purple wallpaper compromises and all the other sacrifices she's made. Lorelai is desperate for someone to want her ... to always prioritize her and make sacrifices for her well-being. By the end of their relationship, Luke was unwilling to even meet her halfway. She thought Christopher could act as a worthy substitute, that she could redirect her feelings for Luke and her desires within that relationship onto him, but subconsciously knew it wouldn't work. When there's no man available to act as a distraction, Lorelai is forced to confront her own shortcomings and do some of the self-work she's been avoiding, even though it's necessary. This trajectory makes sense for her and I don't hate the idea of spending the second half of the season working through it, but again, it feels antithetical to a cozy comfort show like "Gilmore Girls."

Likewise out of place is the rape storyline. As discussed in "Blame Booze and Melville," Sookie's "You're getting a vasectomy" mandate is totally fucked up; however, Jackson, an adult man, should have used his words and told her why he wasn't OK with it. One awkward conversation could have prevented Sookie's dreaded twenty-six diaper per day future. Since everyone in Stars Hollow is apparently against abortion, it baffles me that they continuously screw without condoms and make major reproductive decisions without cluing in their partners. Also, why the fuck is everyone so confident assuming Sookie is pregnant before she even takes a test? I act batshit crazy multiple times per week and so far, none of them have been fetus-related. Sookie and Jackson are trash. This storyline is trash. How did no one in the writers' room red flag it as deeply problematic?

Lorelai is like, "Oh, you lied to my friend and got her pregnant? That sucks, but c'est la vie."

While we're on the topic of kids, I guess I should address Luke's custody hearing, although I don't have much to say about it. The scene where the judge (a Black woman with a speaking role, hooray) reads Lorelai's letter aloud is a nice one, and the editors were smart to cut between the courtroom and Christopher. When Luke calls Lorelai to ecstatically thank her for helping him win partial custody of April, it's a bittersweet moment. In one sense, good for him ... he enjoys being a dad even though April's intensely meh. But doesn't he realize the subtext of his news is "You know that thing that broke up our marriage? It’s official now!” All trust evaporated when he refused to let Lorelai be a part of April's life. Despite their history, Lorelai does whatever she can to help him keep that impediment around. I hate to romanticize their dysfunction, but that feels like true love.

The judge is played by Denise Dowse, AKA Molly's therapist from "Insecure."

Everything involving Paris is lovely and I wish the writers would have found some way to include her more in this season. If they wanted to burn Amy and Dan's empire to the ground and create something radically different, they should have told S7 from Paris' point of view. She's clearly the only character anyone enjoys writing for, and I think it's because she gets good lines that aren't just staccato cocaine humor. The scene where she marches up to Lucy in the dining hall and demands a response on Rory's behalf is Paris at her most endearing. Even better, we later learn that she only facilitated the rekindling because part of Operation Finish Line requires drama department connections.

Lucy's reaction to the confrontation solidly cements her as a good person/friend. She seems to legitimately enjoy being yelled at by Paris (who wouldn't?) and maturely handles Rory's apology, placing most of the blame on Marty. She probably lets Rory off the hook a little too easily, but maybe the letter — which we don't get to hear — paints a compelling picture. Rory's college years would have felt much more realistic had Lucy and Olivia been introduced earlier. As annoying as they are initially, the friend group they eventually form with Paris is one of my favorite aspects of S7. I wish we got see them all go tray sledding together, but this show doesn't have that kind of soap budget.

Rory previously wore this sweater in "But Not as Cute as Pushkin."

It's truly a testament to Edward Herrmann's acting skills that I feel saddened by Richard's heart attack at the end of the episode. My love for Emily Gilmore runs deep, even though she's a demanding bitch with many personality flaws, but Richard is trickier. Even in his best moments, he's too much of a paternalistic boomer who doesn't have much ability to think outside his own purview. I don't feel like he offers the world anything special, but Rory loves him and it's heartbreaking to watch her witness his decline in health.

Random observations:

  • When I'm feeling sad, I imagine Richard Gilmore telling me, "You're a person of great heart and great character. And that combination will always win the day." That's an A+ grandpa pep talk.
  • Would Emily and Richard really go to Mexico? They're the type of old white people who read an article in the Wall Street Journal about drug cartels and deem the entire country too dangerous for a visit. This is how I picture them planning vacations:
  • Tangentially related, the quail Mazatlán napkin ruse was reminiscent of the marzipan scene in "The Nanny and the Professor."
  • On volunteer work, Paris says, "I'm not crazy about wheeling around elderlies in their revealing bathrobes, so I'm leaning towards tree planting." She probably saw so much wrinkly peen during her overachieving Chilton days.
  • Is muffin bottom pie just a bunch of muffin bottoms in a pastry crust? Wouldn't that be disgustingly dry? Along with making Sookie insane, maybe the pregnancy hormones are affecting her taste buds again.
The pregnancy storyline was written for Melissa McCarthy, who was pregnant IRL with her daughter, Vivian (who is now fifteen 😳).
  • Stoner observation: "GG" is regressive in its refusal to acknowledge abortion but progressive in its depiction of women who don't want kids. Lane, Sookie, and Sherry all have "screw this" attitudes toward kids and/or pregnancy at different times in the series.
  • This is somehow Lauren Graham's first producer credit on the show. IIRC, she's the only actor/producer throughout the entire run, but she does not retain this credit in "AYitL."
  • Alright, Saul ... why does Rory hate Dan Abrams? I'm out of the loop.
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