I Can't Handle the Fake Journalism Anymore
Megan Watches Episode 105: "To Live and Let Diorama"
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What’s Wrong With Episode 105: “To Live and Let Diorama”? Lorelai Has No Media Training
Maybe I’ve been too hard on season five, because now that we’re getting to the back half… I kind of like it? This episode contains some of my favorite moments from the past two seasons combined: Rory, Lane, and Paris let Founder’s Day punch remove the tar from their souls as they lean into a real “Let’s Generalize About Men” moment, like you do when you’re 20 and dating someone with Zack’s limited communication skills, Logan’s superficial charm, or Doyle… well, I actually think Doyle’s boundary-setting with Paris is smart. Maybe I’m #TeamDoyle? There’s also the delightful bit when Kirk, Rory, and Paris all crash at Lorelai’s, and eat breakfast together like a very unhinged version of a midcentury sitcom family. I’m also very into Zack’s cleaning product enthusiasm and secret bluegrass band.
It’s almost enough to make me overlook Rory’s baby voice, which goes away during the drunken interlude outside the museum in Old Man Twickham’s house, but pops in and out enough that I just think Alexis Bledel’s real voice deserves some kind of extended apology from Amy Sherman-Palladino.
No, my real concern with this episode is that Lorelai has no media training, which I find very weird for someone whose daughter grew up watching C-SPAN and Christiane Amanpour, and who has a job that involves marketing her business. Knowing how to deal with reporters is part of marketing! There is basically a revolving door between the world of journalism and the world of getting journalists to write about things, and I just do not buy that Lorelai, a business-minded person who is annoyingly good at anticipating the needs of her customers, would really be so unsavvy as to drop a lot of really memorable quotes about hating her mom in front a of a person whose job involves selecting punchy little anecdotes to keep eyeballs on the page.
But no, she actually says to Rory that “It was more like friends chatting than being interviewed,” which is generally not a great sign. Interviews can be really conversational, but reporters are not your friends. They’re at work! They have a goal that may not align with yours! That’s not anyone’s fault—that’s journalism! But saying things you wouldn’t want to see in print when you’re speaking to someone whose job is to put things in print is ill-advised behavior, and Lorelai should know better.
The journalism elements of this episode get even more implausible when Lorelai tries to pull the quotes from the story, and the journalist tells her that it would be easier to just pull the story altogether than to edit it. This is not true. In actual magazine production, the cover would already be set and the story would’ve gone through several rounds of edits, but I can tell you from working on a weekly print publication that you actually can make changes at the last minute, and actually, having to pull a story at the last minute and find something else to replace it would be a huge inconvenience. And honestly, American Travel isn’t exactly The Washington Post. I’m sure they’d soften the language in the story in this particular situation. Democracy dies in darkness, but not every fraught relationship needs to come to light.
I guess it’s possible this mean lifestyle reporter is just bluffing, and betting that Lorelai will choose imperfect publicity over no publicity, so the zingers get to stay, but, again, it’s odd that Lorelai, a great reader of people, doesn’t pick up on that.
That said, I probably shouldn’t expect much realism when it comes to journalism on this show from here on out. I mean, Lorelai gets invited to a party when the story comes out, which is not something that would likely happen to a source, because of, you know, conflicts of interest. Then of course we have Rory’s dubiously gained internship, which looks like no journalism internship I’ve ever had, and more like Mitchum Huntzberger getting an assistant he doesn’t have to pay. Yikes!
Recently, I spoke with a class of student journalists about policy reporting, which is a big part of my work as a writer and reporter. They asked really thoughtful questions about sourcing and interviewing and even hit on some political topics I felt were beyond my own scope of knowledge. I can tell you all about how anti-abortion legislation operates, but how do you solve a problem like gerrymandering? I think everyone wants to know the answer to that question, including me.
What I’m saying is that journalism—and even journalism education—can be a fascinating little world unto itself. But I don’t often see this world on Gilmore Girls, despite Rory’s professed interest in it. There is one moment in this episode when Rory explains what “off the record” means, and clarifies that you can’t take something off the record when you’ve already said it. That line is a little gift, a gentle nudge toward media literacy from an unexpected source.
Beyond my concerns with Lorelai in this episode, I think the Palladinos wanted to subvert our expectations by implying that Rory grows up to be a mediocre journalist. But I think the show could’ve actually been much more interesting if she’d been good at her job. When you care about journalism and work hard at it, you discover that the more you learn about it, the more questions you have. It unfolds into an increasingly massive expanse, a system for pattern-finding and connection in a chaotic universe, a constellation of communities of kids who weren’t cool in high school, who grew into slightly strange, earnest adults with immense, unslakeable curiosity and a mission to make the world less awful, or to at least identify in stark detail all the ways such awfulness manifests, so that perhaps something can be done about it.
I would like to see Rory in that world. Because I live in it, and every day I feel lucky that I do.
Nine Other Things Wrong With This Episode:
I just don’t think we should throw frying pans at other people.
I don’t understand Kirk’s financial situation. He’s going to put in an offer on the Twickham house posthaste but in the meantime is relying on the kindness of strangers? Can’t he rent an apartment like the rest of us? I get that he’d have a ton of money because he does have about 18 jobs and very low overhead, but this is confusing. Worth it for the sitcom vibes though.
I think we’re supposed to find him funny, but Kyle is really tragic imho. He seems like a sad character in a David Lynch movie, like he’s going to crack at some point and maybe… throw a frying pan at someone? Anyway, not great.
I don’t really care about the Luke wanting the house storyline. He wants to live in this house with columns with Lorelai, I guess, but Lorelai has a house and it’s great and didn’t they like JUST get back together? Maybe a good idea to work on strengthening your communication before jumping into a big commitment like buying a house together. Also he obfuscates when Lorelai asks why he’s being charitable with Taylor. I guess it’s good these two have amazing chemistry, because as a couple, they’re kind of terrible.
There’s some manhandling of mannequins that reminds me of The Stepford Wives and not in a good way.
Rory makes fun of Paris for wallowing over Doyle, but didn’t Rory learn that sometimes wallowing is healthy? I guess now that she’s in college she’s too cool for feelings.
Taylor doesn’t believe in evolution and his museum dioramas are proselytizing. We’ve established that Taylor has some fascist tendencies but is he also a Christian fundamentalist?
Didn’t we already get an origin story for Stars Hollow?
Well, Dean is in this episode. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
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