“Mr. Cosell”

EMILY: She [Rory] got home from school, but she just went right upstairs. Now she didn’t want a snack, but I had Rosa make her one anyway. I haven’t checked to see if she’s eaten it. She had a decent breakfast this morning, but she did seem a little tired, and when I went into her bathroom the aspirin bottle was out, so I assume she had a headache. Now, I don’t know if it was last night or …
LORELAI: Excuse me, Mr. Cosell. I appreciate the play-by-play but I just want to talk to my daughter now.

Howard Cosell, born Howard Cohen (1918-1995) was an American sports journalist who entered sports broadcasting in the 1950s, and in the 1970s became the commentator for Monday Night Football on ABC. He completely changed the style of sportscasting towards one of context and analysis, similar to hard news journalism, and is regarded as the greatest American sports commentator of all time. Lorelai compares Emily’s blow-by-blow account of Rory’s activities to Cosell’s in depth analysis of a football game.

Emily’s speech shows her hyper-controlling style of micromanagement. Rory has only been home from school for around an hour, but has had her every move and mood scrutinised, been given a snack after saying she didn’t want one, and had her bathroom searched after leaving it. It’s a telling insight into what Lorelai’s childhood must have been like, and into what Rory’s would have been like if Lorelai had remained living with her parents after becoming a mother.

Emily allows no autonomy, choice, or privacy, and keeps people under surveillance as if they are in prison (remember Lorelai, an adult, could not even say she was going to the toilet without being followed?). It’s really hard to blame Lorelai for fleeing her childhood home because of these circumstances, fearing that Rory would have to endure the same childhood she did.

“Running around trying to protect me”

RORY: I’ll get over it.
LANE: Well, you’re not over it yet.
RORY: Maybe I’d get over it a little quicker if everyone weren’t so busy running around trying to protect me from all the bad scary things in the world.

During her fight with Lane, Rory puts her finger on the great tragedy of her life. Everyone does everything they can to protect her, to mollycoddle her, and to reassure her she’s wonderful, without ever thinking that this could stunt her emotional growth.

Throughout the series, Rory will demonstrate again and again that she could have done with a little toughening up, as she tends to fall apart the second she’s faced with reality.

Out of Africa

LORELAI: Okay, last week we were talking about Meryl Streep and the whole accent thing, and Rachel said that she loved Out of Africa, but she’d never read the book, remember?
LUKE: Nope.
LORELAI: Okay, so I was like, “Are you crazy? Isak Dinesen is amazing, I love her.” Which is kind of crap because I’d never read the book either, but Rory told me it was amazing, so I felt pretty confident in my recommendation of Out of Africa.

Out of Africa is a 1937 memoir by Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Danish author Karen Blixen. It describes the seventeen years that Blixen spent in Kenya, then called British East Africa. It is a meditation on her life on her coffee plantation, and some of the people she encountered there.

The book is non-chronological in structure, and is notable for its melancholic, poetic style that is above all a tribute to the Africa she knew, and a world that had changed irretrievably. That she helped change it did not seem to make a strong impression on her, although her notes on the African people are understanding and accepting, and they admired her as wise and trustworthy.

It seems appropriate that Rory would enjoy Out of Africa. We know that she admires women writers, books on travel, memoir and autobiography, and works with a certain lyrical sadness to them – she likes things that make her feel “gloomy”.

Out of Africa was adapted into film in 1985, directed by Sydney Pollack, and starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the lead roles. The film has several differences from the book, and focuses on Karen Blixen’s love affair with a hunter named Denys Finch Hatton (an Englishman, although Robert Redford plays him with an American accent). Meryl Streep spent a lot of time listening to tapes of Karen Blixen speaking, and chose an old-fashioned, aristocratic accent for her character, which Sydney Pollack thought excessive; Streep is well known for her mastery of different accents.

Out of Africa was the #5 film of 1985 and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director. Despite this, it received mixed reviews from critics.

The fact that Luke can’t remember a word of a conversation with Rachel doesn’t seem very promising for their relationship. As Out of Africa is in part about a doomed love affair, it is possible that Rachel may read something into the gift that Luke has “chosen” for her.

Lane and Dean

When she was with Rory, Lane told her that she had to meet her science partner to work on an assignment; now we learn that Dean is her science partner. They are studying spores, moulds, and fungi, which suggests a Biology class.

It is notable that Lane is able to work with Dean, and is reasonably polite and even friendly with him. She doesn’t treat Dean badly because he broke up with Rory, as others have done, or seem to have any problem with him.

From her observations of both, she may have decided it is quite likely that Rory and Dean will eventually get back together and she prudently doesn’t want to be the person who made an enemy of her best friend’s boyfriend. (She even raises the possibility with Dean, suggesting it is something she has thought about).

Another possibility is that Rory has told her, or at least hinted to her, that it isn’t entirely Dean’s fault that they broke up, and that he didn’t dump her on a whim, or do anything horribly cruel to her. Lane does seem to understand that Dean is not a monster, and perhaps knows that Rory has trouble with commitment.

Rory walks in on Lane and Dean studying together, and having a conversation about her behind her back. She didn’t know that it was Dean who was Lane’s science partner, and doesn’t cope well when she finds out this way.

“I have asthma”

KIRK: Okay, did somebody put the “Kick me” sign on my back again?
(Lorelai and Rory are laughing.)
KIRK: It wasn’t funny last week, and it’s not funny now! I have asthma.

Asthma is a common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, and episodes may occur several times a day, or a few times a week. There is no cure, but symptoms can be reduced by avoiding allergens and irritants (such as tobacco smoke), and using an inhaler with corticosteroids in it.

This is the first time in the show that we learn something about Kirk’s private life. It also shows us that Kirk is the town joke, and something of a whipping boy, so that Lorelai and Rory have no problems making fun of him in public.

“You look tired”

LORELAI: You look tired.
RORY: I just haven’t been sleeping very well lately.
LORELAI: How come?
RORY: Just have a lot on my mind.

It’s a few weeks since Rory and Dean ended their relationship, and she seemed to be coping pretty well. But perhaps that was just because she had a few distractions, such as a surprise visit from her great-grandmother, a group project to work on, spending an afternoon with her grandmother, and getting her own bedroom at her grandparents’ house.

Now that it’s back to normal life with nothing much happening, Rory is having trouble sleeping. When she sees Dean walk past the diner as she and Lorelai play a “who would you marry?” game with passers-by, Rory looks miserable.

Rory’s Bedroom

Emily shows Rory the guest room she has had redecorated to be Rory’s bedroom any time she stays with her grandparents. Even though Rory said her favourite colour was probably blue, Emily has chosen pink for the accessories (with one blue blanket on a chair), and despite saying that she preferred NSYNC, there is a 98° boy band poster on the wall – there might be another poster on the wall we can’t see, though. From this you can see the very limited choices that Emily allows others to make, and that she is all too ready to override them.

Emily did take notice of the sunflowers, however, which Rory said were her favourite flower. Sunflowers are symbolic of platonic love between family members, and strong bonds between two people, reminiscent of Rory’s relationship with Lorelai. They are happy, positive flowers, and symbols of good luck, which make sense because Rory leads such a charmed life.

The room is obviously Emily’s way of showing how much better cared for Rory would have been had she and Lorelai remained living with Emily and Richard. She is still angry and distressed that Lorelai took Rory to live in a shed rather than with her parents, and believes that Lorelai must have hated them to have chosen a shed over her own home.