Chuppah

LORELAI: What is that?
LUKE: Oh, it’s a chuppah.
LORELAI: A what?
LUKE: A chuppah. You stand under it, you and Max. It’s for your wedding.

A chuppah is a canopy which a Jewish couple stand under when they are married. It’s usually a cloth or sheet (sometimes a prayer cloth) held up by four wooden poles. In Orthodox Judaism, there is meant to be open sky above the chuppah, just as is planned for Max and Lorelai’s garden wedding. The chuppah represents the home the couple are making together, which will always be open to guests.

Lorelai wonders whether it would be inappropriate for she and Max to have a chuppah, and gains reassurance from Luke on that point. Luke is actually correct: there is nothing specifically Jewish about getting married under a canopy (other religions do it too), and it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious in nature. These days there’s a bit of a trend for non-Jewish canopy weddings, and as long as it isn’t actually called a chuppah it doesn’t usually cause offence.

The chuppah is a gift from Luke to apologise for his behaviour towards Max. He knows he has been bit of a jerk about Lorelai’s wedding, and wants her to know he is still there for her as a friend. At the end of the scene, Luke and Lorelai are shown standing together under the chuppah as a sign that they will be married one day (when it happens in A Year in the Life, it will take place under a “canopy” beneath the sky, but not the chuppah).

It isn’t all that believable that the Luke we have got to know so far would actually make a chuppah for a non-Jewish wedding after getting the idea from a book (how did he know how to pronounce the word from reading it in a book?), and it seems awfully contrived.

Emily at the Queen Victoria

When Lorelai looks around the club for a table, she is appalled to see her mother has already saved them one. Lorelai didn’t invite Michel to her bachelorette party – Sookie invited him – and now Michel has invited Lorelai’s mother, who he adores, because he “thought it would be a kick”.

Emily, apart from giving Lorelai a brief lecture about being late to her own bachelorette party, seems to be very happy to be allowed to join in the fun for a change. Although she looks slightly uncomfortable at first, she is unfazed by the drag club, and able to adjust to almost any social environment through sheer force of will.

Emily does question Rory’s appearance at a bar that is 18 and over, but isn’t angry or upset about it. This seems really unbelievable, except that we know Emily firmly believes that you don’t get into arguments or explanations at social events. Her own rules of etiquette seem to insist that she go along with it, however implausibly.

“Make way for Rory”

BOUNCER: It’s twelve bucks. And it’s eighteen and over.
SOOKIE: Oh, she’s eighteen.
RORY: That’s right. Last week. So it’s a new eighteen, but it’s eighteen, yup.
BOUNCER: You got some ID?
LORELAI: Hey, uh, sir, make way for Rory. That’s her name. And her only name. Rory. Single name, she’s that important. Internationally known international supermodel and sometimes spokesperson for international products.

An in-joke – Alexis Bledel, who plays Rory, was a model before she began acting on Gilmore Girls. She first modelled for Seventeen magazine, and did have to travel as a model.

In real life, it is extremely unlikely that a bouncer would allow a 16-year-old girl without any identification into a nightclub that is 18+, even when accompanied by her parent; the penalties for doing so in the US can be quite strict. Lorelai’s way of getting people to make new rules for Gilmores is really getting quite unbelievable.

Alexis Bledel was almost 20 in this scene, so in real life actually would have been old enough to get into an eighteen and over nightclub.

“Robot kid in A.I.”

MAX: Say you’re not here, I come home, there’s Rory and Dean in the dark all alone after eleven. I mean, how do I handle stuff like that?
LORELAI: Oh, Max, Rory is very low maintenance. Kind of like that robot kid in A.I., only way less mother-obsessed. Oh my God, that kid was so annoying. I would’ve pushed him out of the car while it was still moving.

Lorelai is referring to the 2001 science-fiction film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, directed by Steven Spielberg and partly based on the 1969 short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long by British sci-fi author Brian Aldiss. Development on the film was first started by Stanley Kubrick in the 1970s, but the film was not completed until after his death; the film is dedicated to Kubrick.

Set in the late 22nd century, the film is about an artificial boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), who is programmed to have an enduring love for his human mother, Monica Swinton (Frances O’Connor). The film is primarily about David’s search for reassurance that Monica returned his love.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence was a commercial success, and the 4th highest-selling film world-wide, although it did less well in the US. It received mixed reviews, with most critics seeing it as brilliant, if flawed.

This is the second time Lorelai has called Rory “low maintenance”. The first time was in regard to school, where her “low maintenance” included enormously high school fees that required wealthy family members to chip in. Now she is calling Rory emotionally low maintenance, even though Rory in fact needs her mother to face most challenges. “Low maintenance” can join “sweetest kid in the world” as one of Lorelai’s least convincing descriptions of Rory.

“Tomorrow’s our anniversary”

RORY: Max is staying over.
DEAN: Really?
RORY: First time. And to kind of celebrate, he and my mom wanted to go on a double date.
DEAN: But tomorrow’s our anniversary.
RORY: No it’s not, it’s on the twenty-fourth.
DEAN: No, that was our old anniversary. We broke up, and got back together on the sixth. So using the twenty-fourth wouldn’t be an accurate account of how long we’ve been together.

This is the point where we learn Rory’s birth date, as Rory and Dean date their relationship from the day after her birthday, when Dean gave her a bracelet in Rory’s Birthday Parties. According to this scene, that happened on October 24, so Rory’s birthday is October 23.

(That means their anniversary dinner should have been on the 24th day of a month too, January 24, but although it actually happened in March, it doesn’t fit the timeline of events to be March 24.)

In real life, October 23 2000 was a Monday, not a Friday as in Gilmore Girls (so October 24 2000 was a Tuesday, not a Saturday).

We also learn that Rory and Dean were reunited on Friday May 6 2001 – we know it was a Friday, because Rory was at school, and the next day was a weekend. In real life, May 6 2001 was a Sunday. May 6 doesn’t fit the timeline we are given in the show, where Rory and Dean are shown getting back together around mid-May.

As Dean is preparing to celebrate their monthly anniversary on August 6, the next day, it must be August 5 in this scene. It is the same day as the previous scene Rory had with Lorelai (she is wearing the same clothes) which seemed to be a Friday. As Max is coming for the weekend, Friday seems to be correct. In real life, August 5 2001 was a Sunday.

Rory and Dean’s conversation tells us that Max and Lorelai’s wedding is planned for Saturday 20 August 2001 – two weeks and one day away.

(Rory and Dean decide they will celebrate their “anniversary” twice a month, on both the 6th and the 24th.)

Quotes for the Wedding Invitations

Rory selects three quotes for Lorelai to choose from, one of which will be printed on the wedding invitations.

The first one is: “What is love? It is the morning and the evening star.” – Sinclair Lewis

This is a quote from Sinclair Lewis’ 1927 novel Elmer Gantry, a scathing satire on fundamentalist religion. The title character is a religious hypocrite and a fraud. Lorelai obviously knows very little about Sinclair Lewis, who she describes as “sappy”. In fact the Nobel Prize Winner was known for his biting wit and critical eye on American culture and materialism. The quote itself is from the title character, who is being entirely insincere. Rory may have read Elmer Gantry partly on Richard’s recommendation – Sinclair Lewis was a favourite author of H.L. Mencken, and he attended Yale, Richard’s own alma mater.

The second one is: And all went merry as a marriage bell. But hush! Hark! A deep sound strikes like a rising knell!” – Lord Byron

This is from Lord Byron’s 1818 long narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Semi-autobiographical, it describes a world-weary young man, looking for distraction by travelling through foreign lands. It made its author immediately famous. This section of the poem is about a grand party in Brussels, which is brought to a disastrous and sinister end by the Battle of Waterloo.

Lorelai’s comment is, “Byron and Lewis, together again”. She may be referring to Matthew Gregory (“M.G.”) Lewis, the author of the 1796 Gothic romance The Monk. He and Lord Byron were friends, and travelled together. Rory may have read Byron’s poem because it is mentioned in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It seems like Rory to want to follow up on a literary work that is referenced in another.

The last quote is: “We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty.” – Benito Mussolini

The whole quote is, “The Truth Apparent, apparent to everyone’s eyes who are not blinded by dogmatism, is that men are perhaps weary of liberty. They have a surfeit of it. Liberty is no longer the virgin, chaste and severe, to be fought for … we have buried the putrid corpse of liberty … the Italian people are a race of sheep.” It comes from Writings and Discourses of Mussolini, a twelve-volume work published between 1934 and 1940.

The choice of Mussolini seems to be a callback to Lorelai calling Headmaster Charleston “Il Duce“, the title of Fascist dictator Mussolini. She said this to Max during an argument they were having about Rory’s education in The Deer Hunters. Amazingly, this is the quote which Lorelai chooses, an apparent acknowledgement that her freedom is now at an end.

As you can see, all the quotes are completely inappropriate for wedding invitations. The first one is an insincere summing-up of love by a hypocrite and fraud, the second one is about a celebration which ends in disaster, and the third one equates marriage with the death of Lorelai’s liberty, said by a fascist dictator, and referencing a fight between Lorelai and Max.

What message is Rory trying to send with her choice of these quotes? They suggest a deep cynicism in her about marriage in general, and Lorelai and Max’s wedding in particular.

“Sample invitations”

RORY: Oh, I printed up some sample invitations for you. I made them on my computer.

It’s two weeks until the wedding, and Rory is only just now printing up sample invitations. That doesn’t seem a lot of time for the invitations to be printed, mailed out, and replied to.

It probably doesn’t matter for the Stars Hollow crowd, who know everything without being told, and have no doubt had the date circled on their calendars for weeks – in their case, an invitation is little more than a formality. But it does seem very inconvenient and rather selfish towards Max’s family, some of whom will be travelling a long distance for the wedding.

The sample invitations Rory shows Lorelai are white A4 pages, which look too large and undecorative to be wedding invitations. Perhaps the samples are printed within the A4 pages, and the real invitations will be printed up on coloured and decorated paper.

Final Party Scene

As we leave Lorelai and Max’s engagement party, the camera pans around so we can see what everyone is doing.

Miss Patty is dancing with Kirk; it is unclear at this point if they have only known each other for a few months, or if the show has already retconned Kirk as Miss Patty’s former student. A strange little moment takes place when Miss Patty looks up at Kirk as if she is going to say something, then seemingly thinks better of it and looks away again with a mysterious expression. You would almost think that she was about to suggest that the two of them become closer – you might remember that when Miss Patty met Kirk in Cinnamon’s Wake, she said she would date him if he had a better haircut. (And in The Break Up Part 2, Kirk had apparently been told gossip by Miss Patty between 10 pm and 6 am, which is interesting).

Rory and Dean, sitting on a bench together having resolved their argument. Rory has her head sleepily on Dean’s shoulder, and Dean kisses the top of her head.

Lane leaving for the airport with her parents, and surely extremely late by now, with a comically huge suitcase she wouldn’t actually be allowed to take on the plane in real life.

Lorelai and Max dancing together. Max smiles lovingly down at his prospective bride, but Lorelai is looking over his shoulder at Luke, who is walking towards the party.

Luke and Lorelai wave and smile at each other; Max doesn’t see this as they are doing it behind his back. Luke sits down on a bench, next to three of the little girls dressed as brides who did the tap dance in the gazebo. Coincidentally or not, Luke will have important relationships with three women in the show before Lorelai (Anna, Rachel, and Nicole).

“Now I’m an expert at it”

RORY: And I could help you organize all of your extracurricular activities because I’m now an expert at it.
DEAN: I don’t …
RORY: How are your wilderness skills?

How did Rory become “an expert” at extracurricular activities in what is posited as a 24-hour period? All she can have done is read a few brochures and made a couple of phone calls, or sent a few emails – on a weekend.

Furthermore, what does being “an expert” mean? Has she got herself some volunteer work for the summer? Because she never mentions it again, and that part of the year isn’t depicted on the show.

“You could go to a fancy school if you wanted to”

DEAN: I mean, I’m not going to a fancy school. I don’t have that kind of pressure. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like.
RORY: You could go to a fancy school if you wanted to.
DEAN: I don’t think so.
RORY: Why not? You’re smart.

Rory continues trying to make Dean into something he’s not – he’s an average student who likes playing sport and home mechanics, but she persists in making him read classic literature, and telling him he could get into a private school if he wanted to. On some level, she cannot be satisfied with Dean as a boyfriend if she won’t accept him not being a bookworm and not going to private school.

Dean is too polite to make the obvious comeback: that he doesn’t have rich grandparents who can bankroll his academic dreams. Even Rory, a very good student, couldn’t get into Chilton on a scholarship, so what hope does Dean have of attending a similar school with average grades and no money for school fees?