Directing and writing credits:
“It's Just Like Riding a Bike” is directed by Lee Shallat Chemel and written by Jennie Snyder Urman. This is Chemel's ninth episode of the season, having previously directed "Gilmore Girls Only," the one with Jenna Rink's mom from "13 Going on 30" recast as Mia. Urman last wrote "Farewell My Pet," which deserves a hat tip for the unhinged Celine Dion dog funeral.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
Michel's shirt and tie combo is giving strong "Oh no baby, what is u doin'?" vibes. And what is up with the shoulder fit on his suit jacket?
Every outfit in this episode is early aughts atrocious. Lorelai and Rory both rock short, puffed sleeves; Olivia layers multiple frumpy sacks over steampunk shorts; Jackson wears an outfit fit for Portia on "The White Lotus." I don't love Lorelai's Leona Edmiston tie-neck dress from the opening scene, but at least it feels like an intentional look as opposed to a haphazard explosion of gross trends.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I experienced major depression for the first time when I was a senior in college. I originally planned to attend law school until I freaked out over spending $200k+ to pursue a career I wasn't sure I would enjoy. The future I had been carefully planning for suddenly felt wildly uncertain and I wasn't sure how to proceed. Rory's anxiety over the fellowship reminds me of that time in my life when stress dreams reigned supreme. As a result, I have nothing but empathy for her situation and don't find her annoying.
Lorelai, on the other hand, is easy to loathe because she makes dumb financial decisions based on "feelings" and rides a bike for the first time in twelve years sans helmet. This bitch is cruising for Christopher-level brain damage.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Rory is a solid friend to Paris, delighting in her success, giving sound relationship advice, and even letting her 'You got into Harvard because of luck' comment slide. In an alternate version "AYitL," Paris reads Adrienne Rich's “Compulsory Heterosexuality” post-divorce and realizes it was Rory all along. I would write fan fiction if I had more time.
Lorelai offers, unprompted, to host Jackson when the kids come down with chicken pox (he's never had it). She's likewise chill when he breaks her dollhouse, "The only thing from Lorelai's childhood that she actually liked!" During their initial phone conversation, Lorelai even lets Sookie complain about Jackson and the pox situation for over a minute before jumping in with her Luke drama. For a flaming narcissist, this is progress.
Best literary or pop culture references:
I love falling down dark Hollywood history rabbit holes and learning about fucked up people who were previously not on my radar. On the aforementioned phone call with Sookie, Lorelai worries that there's too much history between her and Luke for them to be friends.
Sookie: Oh, history, schmistory. Couples have been breaking up and becoming friends. I mean look at Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett, huh?
Lorelai: Really, Ryan and Farrah that's the most well-adjusted relationship you can come up with?
Sookie: I mean, I'm sorry. He's been in the news lately – that whole shooting-a-gun-at-his-son thing.
If you're wondering why O'Neal shot at his son, the answer is obviously drugs (combined with toxic masculinity and general assholerly, natch). I don't think I would be friends with an ex who did shit like this and then blamed our breakup on "menopause" but Fawcett was also an addict so 🤷🏼♀️ Stars! They're just fancier versions of the neighbors who burn trash in their yard and routinely call the police on each other.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
Everyone is curious about Lorelai's return to the diner after almost an entire year's hiatus. Kirk noted the exact date of her last appearance — May 22, 2006 — in his calendar, giving Rory's creepily detailed journals a run for their money. I wish we could hear Babette and Patty's unfiltered gossip sesh about Lorelai's tit-forward entrance and subsequent hasty exit.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I appreciate Paris owning the fact that her med school choice is based solely on ego, not altruism.
Paris: The truth is, I want to be a physician — always have, always will.
Rory: Well, I think it's a very noble profession.
Paris: Oh, yeah, definitely. It's as close to being God as you can get.
May we all have the self-confidence to own our shittiness like this instead of cloaking it in moralistic posturing.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
This episode is completely devoid of books and literary references. Who can focus on novels when "Blades of Glory" (2007) is playing in theaters?
Best song of the episode:
M. Ward's "To Go Home" is the only option. It plays as Paris, Rory, Lucy, and Olivia down pints of beer at Rich Man's Shoe. I worked at a boutique throughout grad school and cycled through "Post-War" (the album this song is on) so many times that I will still remember the lyrics on my deathbed. If I wasn't playing that CD, it was an 8tracks playlist I painstakingly crafted. Memories!
Lorelai is one of those people who proudly proclaims, "It's a Jeep thing" and for that, I respect her twenty percent less. Is this entire fucking episode one long Jeep commercial? Lorelai loves her Jeep so much that when it shits the bed, she ends up buying another Jeep and installing its engine in her original Jeep. What ad agency cooked up this madness?
After riding her janky old bike to the inn and miraculously arriving unscathed, Lorelai realizes death is a numbers game and she can't afford to increase her odds. Sookie encourages her to call Luke and ask if he'll go car shopping with her, which he immediately agrees to because he is an idiot. Before they both apologized to each other in "Hay Bale Maze," their conversations had been stilted and awkward. Topics never went beyond small talk and there was always an easy out if tensions ran high. Sitting in strained silence on their way to the dealership, Luke's staticky radio is the only escape.
Once there, Lorelai hates every car she looks at but instead of complaining about them in her usual verbal diarrhea way, she says nothing more contentious than "hmm." Luke pretends he isn't annoyed until her lackluster reaction to a newer model Jeep Wrangler sends him into a classic 'This bitch is ridiculous' rant. As they leave the dealership, Lorelai bullies him into playing Air Supply and stopping for milkshakes just like the good old days.
By the end of the episode, Luke shows up at Lorelai's house with the crazy engine swap solution and preemptive price negotiations. He even offers to put air in her bike tires and buy her a safety light and
bell horn (her skull is of no concern). We've returned back to the standard formula of lovingly annoyed Luke and incorrigible Lorelai who enjoys being taken care of by someone she trusts. It's only a matter of time before emotional declarations are made and the whole cycle repeats itself again. Sookie says, "fighting got you over the hump" but will it lead to Lorelai and Luke humping? Find out next week on the CW.
While Lorelai problem solves her dead Wrangler, everyone's least favorite couple bickers over how to break the smashed dollhouse news to her. Rightfully so, Sookie has been annoyed with Jackson since he massively betrayed her by refusing to snip his junk and then lying about it for years. She assumes he'll be a horrible house guest at Lorelai's and gives multiple condescending lectures about how to be less annoying when she drops him off. To her surprise, Lorelai isn't bothered by his presence. Jackson finds chicken nuggets exciting and happily listens to her babble — what's not to like? Everything is going fine until he accidentally crushes her dollhouse with his lugubrious body, thus prompting an airing of grievances with Sookie.
These two idiots think they can gloss over intimate partner violence by having one conversation about it and deciding to let it go. I'm sure their third child won't be able to pick up on mom's resentment at all.
Jackson: I understand. I do. Heck, I'm still mad at myself. It's just that at some point, you are gonna forgive me eventually, right?
Sookie: It's just sometimes it feels really overwhelming.
Jackson: I know, but you got to let me back in.
No, you don't! Poison him with organophosphates and blame it on farming. Cut the brake lines to his truck. You have a lot of options. It's a shame "Bad Sisters" wasn't out at this time because Sookie could have taken great inspiration from that show.
Paris and Rory have the best storylines of the episode, revolving around their career aspirations and the ways in which Doyle and Logan fit into the equation. When Paris receives eight law and medical school acceptances, she has a meltdown reminiscent of her epic Harvard rejection unraveling on C-SPAN. The takeaway here is that whether the outcome is positive or negative, the pressure Paris puts on herself makes it all unbearable. When I need a little serotonin hit, I watch the scene of Rory slicing open each letter and conveying the good news while Paris and Doyle dance around like maniacs. "Bite me, Harvard, bite me! [...] I'm tempted to reject them the same way they rejected me that dark day four years ago. Who's laughing now?!" INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS.
It's a direct reversal of their high school position where Rory has her choice of universities and Paris is rejected from the only school she cares about. I wonder how Rory would have reacted to Paris's cavalcade of good news had she already received the Reston Fellowship decision. Even the most secure person would struggle to not feel shitty about themselves in comparison. Thankfully, Paris has already been accepted by the time Rory's letter arrives and the sad la-las swell. Rory has lived a privileged, sparkling existence where the biggest hardship she's faced is being asked to drop a class during freshman year. It's good for her to experience outright rejection and figure out how to proceed, but it still sucks to watch it happen. S7 faults aside, I appreciate that the writers tried to give her a legitimate character arc. By the end of the season, she feels like a more mature version of herself and less like the entitled brat of S4-6. Despite her flaws, I want this Rory to succeed.
The most interesting conversation of the episode takes place between Rory and Paris at Rich Man's Shoe. Paris has just broken up with Doyle because the idea of planning her future around him makes her nervous. When Rory reminds her that certain concessions are worth making, Paris asks how she'll deal with it if she gets the fellowship and Logan accepts a job in San Francisco (he's currently there for an interview). Through their discussion, Rory realizes that despite the agreement to factor each other in, she's not willing to put her own success on the backburner in exchange for her relationship. Even now, it's rare to see women on screen prioritize their own aspirations over romance; in 2007, it felt downright radical.
I also love that in Paris's case, Doyle is the one who makes a sacrifice and decides she's more important to him than ladder-climbing at the most prestigious newspaper. All relationships involve compromise and there's nothing shameful about making career decisions with another person in mind, it's just usually not a position taken by men. "GG" makes several choices that feel regressive (everything involving Lane, refusing to acknowledge abortion, the near total absence of Black people), but subtle gender dynamic shifts like this one are what give the show longevity.
- Why does every TV show use a brake pedal sound to indicate a broken car? It's like some foley artists decided this was industry standard and ran with it for decades. The bug zapper sound as Lorelai's tail lights flicker is similarly WTF.
- Sookie casually sniffs leftover milk from a sippy cup before dumping it into her coffee. This is some real life shit!
- S/O to Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Oreo, two casual product placements. Imagine if the "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign had been out at this time. Lorelai pulling a Snickers bar out of her bag for Luke would have been a slam-dunk ad integration.
- Speaking of cool "GG" projects, check out this incredible gingerbread house:
- Paris, a woman who knows the odds of someone from her geographic and socioeconomic background staying with a college boyfriend, wouldn't even remember Tristan's name at age thirty-two. Yet another "AYitL" inaccuracy.
- I'm mad we never find out why Lucy and Olivia name their apartment "Glenda." Maybe they're actually saying "Glinda," like Glinda the Good Witch from "The Wizard of Oz" and/or "Wicked"? That's my best guess.
- Either Olivia has a trust fund or she and Lucy are sharing their two-bedroom apartment in Astoria with four other people because $21k is barely enough to cover rent and subway fare let alone health insurance or anything fun.
- Emily just described The San Francisco Chronicle as "dreadful" whereas Paris calls it "perfectly adequate." I'm shocked my favorite harsh queens aren't on the same page.
- There's no way Lorelai's old-ass bike still has enough air in the tires to make it to the inn and I don't believe for a single second that she would know how to inflate them herself. Gf can barely handle stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce let alone performing manual labor.
- Justice for "the woman at Davey's school with the big, fake boobs who all the dads think are real." Let her enjoy her cantaloupe titties in peace.