RORY: My favorite episode –
LORELAI: Mm, mm … tell me, tell me.
RORY: – is when their son, Jeff, comes home from school and nothing happens.
LORELAI: Oh that’s a good one. One of my favorites is when Mary, the daughter, gets a part-time job and nothing happens.
Television episodes where “nothing happens” is also criticism that could be levelled at Gilmore Girls, and has been (for example, at A.V. Club). Maybe your favourite episode is the one where Lorelai’s house gets termites, and nothing happens, or the one where Lane dyes her hair purple, and nothing happens – or even when Rory dresses up as Donna Reed, and nothing happens.
Like The Donna Reed Show, the world of Gilmore Girls is one where interpersonal relationships are more important than dramatic outer events. Even when something quite exciting does happen, the characters have often been returned to the status quo by the end by the episode, or only subtle changes have occurred.
DEAN: So it’s a show?
RORY: It’s a lifestyle.
LORELAI: It’s a religion.
Dialogue which fans have taken and applied to Gilmore Girls itself.
Todd tells Lane that his favourite movie is Beethoven, and Lane incredulously asks, “The one with the dog?”.
Beethoven is a 1992 family comedy film directed by Brian Levant and written by John Hughes (as Edmond Dantès). It is about the antics of a big friendly St Bernard dog named after the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and the way he protects the family who have adopted him. The movie received tepid reviews but was enough of a commercial success to spawn numerous sequels and a television series.
Todd describes his favourite scene as the one where a little dog is running around with a cabbage in its mouth. During the movie, Beethoven’s family help him escape from an experimental lab run by an evil vet, and they release all the other dogs who have been held there. As the evil vet’s henchmen chase the dogs through a marketplace, a Golden Retriever puts an entire cabbage in his mouth, and spends the rest of the scene hanging onto it.
It’s one of those blink-and-you’d-miss-it funny background scenes, so this actually provides a glimmer of hope in regard to Todd’s intelligence. He clearly has a keen eye for detail (although Golden Retrievers are not really “little dogs”; maybe he means it in an affectionate way.) In the Gilmore Girls universe, perhaps even the dimmest people have a knowledge of obscure movie trivia!
SOOKIE: I asked him [Jackson] if he’d like to have dinner sometime.
LORELAI: I know – weeks ago.
For the first eleven episodes, dates in Gilmore Girls can be plotted on the calendar fairly easily. From now on, time becomes more amorphous and elastic, and sometimes even self-contradicts. At this point, a lot of estimating and even guessing will be needed to form any kind of workable timeline.
When Lorelai says the events of the previous episode happened weeks ago, we have no idea if she means two weeks, three weeks, or six weeks in the past. Most likely it is two or three weeks and we are now in early to mid-February – four or more weeks and she would probably say it was a month, or more than a month.
(It’s not possible for me to align the dates on the blog exactly with the vague calendar in Gilmore Girls at this point, or I will run out of time for events to occur in).
From the conversation between Lorelai and Sookie, we learn that Sookie has been single for years (Lorelai is quite hurtful to her about it, but apologises for it). We also discover that this hasn’t been entirely by choice, but because Sookie is very busy working at the inn, and has so many accidents that she has frequent hospital visits as well. This is another example of shortness of time being a factor in the show.
(Max rings the doorbell, arriving for his date with Lorelai)
LORELAI: It’s 8 o’clock. Who shows up at 8 o’clock for an 8 o’clock date?
RORY: I don’t know, maybe a Chilton teacher?
LORELAI: Everybody knows that 8 o’clock means 8:20, 8:15 tops!
Another mention of time and the problems it causes. Lorelai and Rory keep turning up late and getting into trouble for it; here someone else arrives on time and throws their schedule out.
LORELAI: (turns around to look at Max’s books) Wow these are beautiful! Hmm, I never read Proust, I always wanted to.
Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was a French author, best known for his monumental seven-volume part-autobiographical novel, À la recherche du temps perdu (“In Search of Lost Time”, earlier translated as “Remembrance of Things Past”), published between 1913 and 1927. He is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.
In a television series where the flow of time is a major theme, it’s not surprising that Proust makes a significant appearance, as his novel is a philosophical meditation on the nature of time, and how “clock” time can be very different to our personal experience of time.