On A Tangent

The ultimate site for a generation sidetracked by the fandom life


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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Emily Gilmore?

Only The Dowager Countess Grantham could rival Emily Gilmore's tongue.

Only The Dowager Countess Grantham could rival Emily Gilmore’s putdowns. (Leah’s comment: I want to see THAT Friday night dinner.)

To say that Lorelei (Lauren Graham) and Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) have one of the most turbulent cinematic mother-daughter relationships would likely be an understatement. The dysfunction present throughout all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls between these two strongly willed ladies could likely fill years of psychological journals.

But for the purpose of this very brief, 1,000-word blog post, I want to focus on the ways that Emily Gilmore works, both as a character and a reflection of the strong-willed lady in all of us. (You too, gentleman readers!)

First of all, with only a few exceptions, Emily Gilmore, like so many ideologues and family matriarchs, never errs from her firm opinion that her actions are not only in the right, but are what is best for those around her. This habit is regularly exemplified in her dialogues with Lorelei, in which Lorelei says one thing and Emily steamrolls right over her.What I love about the beginning of the show is that it launches us immediately into the timeframe in which Lorelei has begun (with mixed success) to improve that relationship and force her mother to hear what she is saying.

I have often thought this is very reflective of real life, where we only allow those who have torn us down to see us when we have started the assent back up. Rory is thriving despite a rocky start to life. Lorelei is successfully managing a big business with dozens of employees. To some extent and despite all her attempts to rebel from their way of life, Lorelei is still craving her parents to say that she has done well. It’s a praise she never fully receives. But that’s a digression for another day.

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Celebrating Paris Geller: The Unsung Hero of Gilmore Girls

It probably goes without saying that every introverted pre-teen and teenage girl of the mid-2000s had a deep-seated camaraderie with the show Gilmore Girls, and a particular kindred spirit feeling for everyone’s introverted darling, Rory. (You’ll probably be seeing a lot more of Gilmore Girls from this blog in particular, as both of its authors share that kinship.) Rory was bookish, she was sweet, she was smart and driven; we got her and we loved her for being a different kind of leading lady from anything else on TV.

But, with full recognition of our love for Lorelei and Rory, our Worthy Women Wednesday blogs must take some time to focus on the zany characters that drove these two characters toward the very human perfection that was Gilmore Girls.

For many years, I have made a vocal argument that season 1 Rory could never have become season 7 Rory without one, single character: her foil, nemesis and ersatz friend, Paris Geller.

An oft-rehearsed debate between our sister bloggers, wherein Laney looks like she’s just come from the hair salon at all hours of the day or night, while Leah continually struggles to contain her curls. – Leah

Those of us who went to a private or advanced academic school all knew at least one Paris Geller. (Or maybe you WERE her.) They were loud. They were bold. Their drive for perfection drove everyone around them up a wall on group projects. Their ability to drop SAT-level vocabulary words at 6 am off of 3 hours of sleep was nothing short of astounding. And don’t get us started on their actual SAT scores. Which they probably took 4 times to score a perfect 800 on each section.  Half of our brain wanted to be them, the other half wanted to figure out how to make them disappear back to the planet from which they had sprung.

Rory and Paris are foils: both driven, both smart, both so hard-working it would make the Amish look lazy. They start out with identical goals: to be the top of their class, to make it into Harvard, to create waves in the world. In all of the Gilmore Girls universe, no one, not even Lorelei, can understand Rory at quite such a deep level as Paris can. Yet at the same time, they differ greatly.

In many ways, Paris is what Rory might have been if she had followed “The Gilmore Plan” to be raised by her grandparents instead of Lorelei raising Rory on her own. Rory is what Paris might have been if she was allowed to pause for two seconds and be appreciated for exactly who she already was. Where Rory ducks behind a book, Paris charges forward with confidence. Where Rory sidesteps conflict, Paris confronts. Where other characters worship Rory from a distance, they literally move out of Paris’ way. Both girls are, in their own way, isolated.

Paris is a character you love to hate. Her perpetual antagonism of Rory in the first two season of the show stems directly from these personality preferences on the part of the two characters. But what matters to the show, and to our deep appreciation of Paris Geller, is the results of their relationship: a stronger Rory, who realizes she is not a delicate princess to whom everything should be given, and a softened Paris, who can accept that someone might love her for herself and not her accomplishments.

The first turning point in their relationship comes in episode 13 of season one, “Concert Interruptus”, where Rory is forced to invite Paris and her sycophants to her house for a study group. In a twist of expectations, Madeline and Louise, the more sympathetic set of characters, end up breaking the rules at The Bangles’ concert and being distanced from Rory, while Paris drops her shell to admit that she actually had fun. This moment of humanity instantly breaks the ludicrous layers of Paris’ character and makes her real to the audience.

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The Schedule of Events!

Here at On a Tangent, we seek to bring you interesting and thought-provoking content about the things you (and we) love most! We also seek to fangirl about things that are cool, because, well, they’re cool.  With those goals in mind, here’s what you can look forward to on the blog for the foreseeable future!

Marvel Mondays: Hosted by Leah, Marvel Mondays will be tackling that phenomenon that’s taking over the known universe with its fast-paced action and wit, and endless string of actors named Chris. (Seriously, where do they get these guys?)  For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about Marvel’s newest smash hit, Agent Carter, discussing sexism in the workplace, the nefarious scheming of the mysterious Leviathan, and, of course, our fabulous leading lady.  Meanwhile, we also might get snippets of Leah’s never-ending quest to hit 100% completion on LEGO Marvel Superheroes.

Worthy Women Wednesdays:  Wherein we talk about our favorite female characters, historical figures, and current women doing amazing and interesting things.  We’ll be adopting monthly themes, starting out with a discussion of some of the under-appreciated characters in one of our favorite girl-centric shows: Gilmore Girls!

And finally, Fandom Fridays:  A grab-bag of rants, reviews, and chatter, where you never know quite what you’re going to get.  Laney will engage you with poignant commentary, Leah will discuss her favorite role models villains, and we might even bring in a guest blogger or two!

So grab onto some rigging, get your sea legs ready, and prepare to sail off on a tangent!