shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

2.22.2005

question with no real answer, but lots of interesting ones

So, Gilmore Girls is taking the well-worn path of having a couple that all fans know are destined to be together get together then break up for reasons of miscommunication, then not talk to each other and stay broken up due to sheer stubbornness. Even though this is believable for both characters, and I'm not giving the Sherman-Palladinos credit for how well they're doing this, the fact one of my favorite shows is following a proto-storyline of many modern(?) love stories still fascinates me.

Christopher slept through tonight's episode (late-ish nights take their toll on us weeknights) and he probably won't think it's as good as I did because his reaction to the pattern above is more annoyed than mine. I will keep watching to see how it resolves, to see just how terrible and complicated it'll get, secretly wanting them to actually calm the waves and let the relationship play -- damn it -- and meaning it. For some reason, there seems to be plenty of conflict inherent even if the Luke and Lorelei characters are together because they're both such rich characters. And the actors are doing a damn fine job of showing that they can do broken-hearted without going over the top. But, gah, for this show, if it's going somewhere else. I fear this show doing something so expected, at least in terms of plot; I'm afraid they'll do something silly to try and twist the usual conclusion.

Anyway.

I know you've seen this in other shows, even if you don't watch this one. I'd be interested in your reactions when it plays out and whether it makes you scream or tune in or both. Specific examples are welcome.

(Also: That Fiddler on the Roof moment would have been a perfect reconciliation point, even if it would have been too quick to justify last week's episode.)

Perhaps this seems low-brow. I wallow in the low-brow at this moment.

8 Comments:

  • At 10:26 PM , Blogger Chris McLaren said...

    I think I'm with Christopher on this, in that I find it EXTREMELY annoying.

    The writing on this show is usually so good that I feel incredibly let down that they are going the route of having a breakup that only makes sense if both characters are incredibly stupid. (Stubborn I could have believed, but this is into the realm of the stupid.)

    It shatters my suspension of disbelief that they would not have talked at the end of last week's episode when Luke came running to the house.

    It continues to shatter my suspension of disbelief that they aren't _talking_ to each other.

    Just for once I'd love it if the main character of any show could have a stable, happy, relationship. I am at the point where I might actually watch MacMillan and wife reruns.

    On the other hand, though, it might be worth these two episodes of annoying if the Emily-gets-stuck-in thing next week pays off like it should.

     
  • At 11:35 PM , Blogger Rob said...

    What a man can't come in the middle of the night and takes his boat out anymore? Yeesh.

     
  • At 8:13 AM , Blogger Karen said...

    I think one key to making a fictional breakup easier to take is if we've been seeing danger signs for a while. When people are visibly having long-term problems, then a breakup can feel like it makes sense. When a relationship looks fabulous and one wacky mishap breaks it up, I don't buy it, it's just a bad plot twist. Also it invalidates the whole relationship that came before, and the integrity of the characters. They become cartoony pawns of the plot.

    Gilmore Girls has been showing us a few rumblings of trouble that I'd probably pay more attention to on a second viewing of the season, but Luke plays it so close to the chest that it's hard to notice the difference between small irritations and larger issues. The way I'm trying to look at their breakup is this: although it's a frustrating and shopworn plot device, the characters actually are behaving fairly true to themselves. They didn't just fall apart on some Three's-Company-style misunderstanding; Lorelei really threw herself at Luke trying to make things okay and work it out. To the point of utter humiliation and losing-self-in-relationship, so even though she's good at working things out, she's going to want to take a step back. And Luke is Luke, he's not likely to make himself vulnerable when he feels like he's been kicked in the teeth. I buy that he'd fall back on his default closed-off state when he's panicked and hurt. I don't think it's the specific wedding blah blah that's really the problem, but the fact that he'd been wearing his heart on his sleeve and got scared.

    The breakup, it is stupid, but not exactly one of those cases where reasonable people suddenly start acting like complete idiots for the sake of dramatic tension. I mean it is kinda. But also it's in keeping with what they might really do. Even smart people who care about each other can be really stupid where hurt and pride are concerned.

    Of course, none of that makes it much easier to watch, because you want to just bang their heads together until they're over it.

    This reminds me of something that used to come up in a writing workshop, where we'd read a scene that didn't play right and people would critique it as feeling fake or cliched. And the author would say, "But this actually happened to me!" And the response was "It doesn't matter if people really act this way, when we read it in this story, it isn't believable." That's kind of where I'm at with GG this month.

     
  • At 9:10 AM , Blogger Karen said...

    Not that real people act the way L&L are acting, but then they never do. The breakup isn't real-life realistic, but it is Stars Hollow realistic. All the GG characters are a little cartoony, and the breakup is within the usual ratio of fantasy-to-reality behavior in the show. It's consistent; the writers haven't committed the sin of taking two characters and making them act like they aren't themselves, which is how these things usually go on TV. But they are committing the sin of making us watch the cliched scene of two people who should be together as they keep almost but not quite talking to each other, and even if that scene makes in-show sense for once, it still drives me crazy.

     
  • At 10:35 AM , Blogger David Moles said...

    This is also the primary technique Robert Jordan has used to spin the Wheel of Time series out into two hundred and seventeen books, with no end in sight.

    (Or, at least, it was as of book five or so, when I stopped reading.)

     
  • At 12:05 PM , Blogger Robin said...

    I think whether it works or not depends on your feelings for the characters. Rachel and Ross on Friends played the game for 7 seasons, and fans still watched (and applauded when they finally got together in the end).

     
  • At 12:22 PM , Blogger Bill S. said...

    Having just watched the episode in question last night, it occurred to me that this situation is the result of a conflict that was set up from the beginning; that is, the different ways in which Luke and Lorelai communicate. Lorelai has always been cast as almost overly verbal; some of the lines I've heard her deliver would have Rosalind Russell green with envy. Luke, on the other hand, has always tried to communicate through his actions, which is why it was (almost) believable that Lorelai wouldn't recognize how bad he had it for her. The chupah, the annual day of handiwork, etc. Even putting the TV in his bedroom so she could watch the Daily Show while he slept, in spite of what studies say about it interfering with sleep. But the fact that he doesn't put his feelings into words for the most part somehow prevents her from recognizing it. (This as compared to Christopher, who knows how to say the right words, but then almost always seems to do the wrong thing.) And the break-up happened mostly because of Lorelai's insistence that they talk about it now, even after Luke said that he needed time to think things through. As far as I'm concerned, she didn't have the right to demand that of him, given the circumstances. It seems like he just broke up with her because he couldn't see any other way of getting her to back off. As the audience, we realize that Luke participated in the musical as a way to sort of signify that he doesn't want their relationship to be over. Lorelai, not having the benefit of omniscience, does not see this; she just sees Luke fuming at her because some girl tripped over her dress. She (and Sookie) did notice that he had removed his boat from her garage, though.

    I do have faith that the two of them will finally get together eventually. I think the writers realize that there's a lot of drama to mine in having these two very independent, very different people (who are nevertheless clearly in love) try to build a life together. Plus, you don't build up a romance for four seasons, and then have it die after just half a season. If they pull a Ross and Rachel (what's with the alliterative names?) and drag this out for the rest of the series, I would be extremely disappointed.

    I haven't really added all that much to the discourse, but those are just my thoughts. I love that show.

     
  • At 2:35 PM , Blogger Bill S. said...

    (Christopher being Lorelai's baby's daddy, not your husband.)

     

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