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'Gilmore Girls' recap: Rory goes to Chilton, Lorelai goes to the rodeo

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “The Lorelais’ First Day at Chilton” | Aired Oct 12, 2000

On the last episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory was accepted to fancy Connecticut private school Chilton. This week, she’s leaving Stars Hollow High behind and starting at her new school. The episode kicks off with Lorelai painting her daughter’s toenails red in preparation. (Because private school girls are bad, and everyone knows they have red toenails, explains Lorelai.) Rory’s best friend, Lane, arrives with the new XTC CD, and they run inside, dancing wildly to “I’m the Man Who Murdered Love.” Cue the credits!

The next scene opens bright and early, with Rory screaming at her mother to wake up. “It’s 7:10!” she repeats over and over again, while a dazed Lorelai stumbles out of bed, having overslept after her furry alarm clock failed to purr on time. Rory is dressed, composed and frustrated, the first of many times when the daughter in this relationship will be more stable and responsible than the mother. It’s a reversal that works for them, however, because as scattered as Lorelai can be, she’s always there to guide Rory—pushing her to fail, to try new things and to escape her comfort zone from time to time. In the first few episodes, Lorelai may seem irresponsible, but her ability to make mistakes and keep on going is what makes her strong, successful and a great mom.

Because she overslept on laundry day, and despite having a closet half-full of seemingly normal clothes, Lorelai has absolutely nothing to wear to Chilton except for a tight, tie-dyed pink T-shirt, short cut-off denim shorts and cowboy boots. Rory makes the first of many rodeo jokes, and they’re out the door on the way to Chilton.

Upon arriving at Chilton (an old, scary building that Rory describes as having an “off with their heads” vibe), Rory breaks the news that Lorelai has to come inside to meet the headmaster—cowboy boots and all. She throws on a long black trench coat, fails to close it over her outfit until after they meet hot Chilton dad Ian Jack, and rushes to the headmaster’s office. On the steps, they pass three girls with a very Heathers vibe who are giving Rory a dirty look for no apparent reason. Chances are they’ll be pretty important. (Looking back, I wonder if the creators realized just how important Paris, played by Liza Weil, would turn out to be. Imagine how different the series would have been if she had stayed just a two-dimensional mean girl, on the show only for Rory’s high school years.)

Lorelai and Rory reach the headmaster’s office, and the Gilmore matriarch herself, Emily, is there to greet them. It’s unbearably hot in the office, of course, and Emily insists that Lorelai take off her jacket because she’s being rude. She takes it off, mutters a meek “laundry day” to her mother and Headmaster Charleston (with whom Emily is old friends), and sits down for two minutes of awkward conversation. Emily is in fine form, and it’s the first time we really see her smart and snarky side emerge. “Dinner. Friday night. No spurs, please!” she shouts at Lorelai as they’re leaving.

gilmore-girls-paris-chiltonEverything about Rory’s first day at Chilton is terrible, from Paris threatening her without any real cause (“You’ll never catch up. You’ll never beat me. This school is my domain.”) to the boys all calling her “Mary” and her not understanding why. The classes are hard, the workload is crazy and her locker refuses to open. We’re introduced not only to Paris, but to her sidekicks Madeline (Shelly Cole) and Louise (Teal Redmann), and to Tristan Dugray (Chad Michael Murray), the troubled class hottie who flirts with Rory but refuses to call her by her real name.

It’s impossible to avoid a feeling of nostalgia when rewatching Gilmore Girls. Amy Sherman-Palladino and company didn’t just create a TV show on the WB 14 years ago—they created a whole world. Every building, every person and every pond in Stars Hollow has a story and a memory to go along with it, and it’s impossible to see Lorelai walk by Patty’s dance studio without thinking of Rory and Dean. There’s no way you can watch Lorelai kick open the door of her tan Jeep without thinking of the deer that hit it, or the time she tried to dig it out of snow like a crazy person, or the time it finally broke down and she and Luke went new-car shopping. Even the entryway of Chilton holds memories, of Lorelai and Rory saying an emotional goodbye to the school on Rory’s graduation day.

Back in Stars Hollow, Luke and Miss Patty (Liz Torres) both question Lorelai’s judgment when they see the outfit she wore to drop off Rory at Chilton. She soon changes into a gray skirt suit (again with a super-short skirt—was that an early ’00s trend that I’m forgetting?) and heads to the Inn, where Sookie is arguing with her produce guy (Jackson Douglas) and Michel is being sassy as ever. “If I have to fetch you like a dog, I’d like a cookie and a raise,” he tells Lorelai after Emily calls to discuss Rory’s need for more uniforms and a parking space at Chilton. Hot Chilton Dad also stops by the Inn, but Lorelai brushes him off, saying it’s too awkward to date the PTA before Rory’s first day is even over. (Spoiler alert: It’s apparently OK to date Rory’s teachers, just not Chilton parents. That makes sense.)

Both Gilmore ladies have had pretty rough days so far, and both storylines are building to explosions. Rory decides to yank as hard as she can on her stubborn locker, and of course destroys Paris’ history diorama in the process. Rory takes the blame and offers to help fix the project in class, but Paris doesn’t want her help, so they get into a screaming match in class. When Paris crumples up Rory’s apology note and throws it on the floor later in class, Rory gets fed up and decides to beat Paris, rather than trying to be her friend, by answering all of the teacher’s questions first.

If I watch every episode of Gilmore Girls 100 times, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the sight of Kirk (Sean Gunn) as “Mick,” an unfamiliar, one-dimensional character, in the first few episodes of season 1. Many of his personality traits are the same, but rather than building out the Mick character as the show went on, they reintroduced Gunn as Kirk, a bizarre, Stars Hollow–born man whom everyone in town had known for years. In this episode, he’s still just Mick, a worker who is at Lorelai’s house to install a DSL line while she’s at the Inn. It turns out that Emily ordered the DSL line, and Lorelai storms off to the hair salon to give her mother a piece of her mind.

It’s a perfect example of just why Emily and Lorelai’s relationship is so strained—Emily tries to help, thinking that money will solve everything, but her efforts are sorely misguided. Lorelai, on the other hand, has a knee-jerk reaction to taking anything from her mother, and so she goes above and beyond to refuse Emily’s gift, offending her mother and further straining the relationship in the process. Emily and Lorelai’s relationship will continue to grow throughout the next few seasons, but for now it stands to contrast and add context to the way Lorelai raises her own daughter.

In the Gilmore Girls pilot, we were given a superficial view of the mother-daughter bond between Lorelai and Rory. They were fighting for most of the episode, they made up in the end, Lorelai teased Rory about Dean and they fast-talked their way through a couple of inside jokes. But on the second episode of the show’s first season, we’re shown just how strong their relationship is, and we’re offered a first glimpse into the bond that makes them more than mother and daughter—it makes them best friends. At the end of the day, no matter which season you’re watching, Gilmore Girls isn’t a show about school, small towns or even love. It’s about mothers, daughters and one of the strongest friendships ever seen on TV. All of this unfolds across seven seasons, countless obstacles and a dozen relationships. But when I looked back at season 1, I saw the Gilmore relationship summed up in one scene, as Rory and Lorelai clutched each other outside of Chilton at the end of a long day, pushing aside all of their problems and drawing strength from one another like nothing else mattered.

After venting about their bad days outside of Rory’s new school, the Gilmore women return to Stars Hollow for pizza with Lane, and an awkward conversation about how Lorelai thinks Luke is cute. “If you date him, you’ll break up and then we can never eat there again!” exclaims Rory, predicting a tiny bit of the Gilmore Girls‘ future.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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