It’s my birthday! Yes, twenty-five years ago today the world received an extra dose of sarcasm, thus improving it greatly.
So in honor of myself, I’m writing a Very Special Blog Post on TV birthdays. (Thanks to the lovely Dan Rosen for giving me the idea!) And when I thought about TV birthdays, I immediately thought about Gilmore Girls.
Lots of TV shows feature a birthday or birthday party at some point or another. But I think Gilmore Girls did them particularly well. Maybe it was the fact that Rory and Lorelai had such a close relationship. Maybe it was the fact that they lived in a quirky little town with a disproportionate amount of available resources for throwing a memorable bash. But whatever it was, they threw some pretty darn good parties. Let’s review.
“Rory’s Birthday Parties” – Season One, Episode Six
This was our first introduction to the Gilmore’s party-throwing, but a wrench was thrown into the plan. Rory’s grandmother decided to throw Rory a fancy-schmancy party at the mansion for all her new, fancy-schmancy Chilton friends. Awkward! There were some nice moments, though. Paris told Rory “It was a nice party” – the beginning of a lifelong friendship, who would have known? And Richard gave Rory an envelope of money “for Fez”. I always liked the relationship between Rory and her grandfather.
Lorelai’s second party for Rory was far more successful, but it also reminded Emily of how much of Lorelai’s life she’d missed. This was a great episode in the series. It set up some traditions, like fab birthday parties and Lorelai waking Rory up in the middle of the night at her exact hour of birth, and it also helped us get to know the characters better.
Rory – “So is this party Grandma’s having gonna be a big deal?”
Loralai – “Not really. The government will close that day. Flags will fly at half-mast. Barbara Streisand will give her last concert…again. Now, the Pope has other plans, but he’s trying to get out of them. However, Elvis and Jim Morrison are coming and they’re bringing chips!”
“Happy Birthday, Baby” - Season Three, Episode Eighteen
This is one of my favorite episodes, because it’s such a great example of Rory and Lorelai’s relationship. Lorelai threw lots of great birthday parties for Rory when she was growing up, and Rory cares enough about her mom to want to return the favor…with the world’s largest pizza. This was also the episode where part of the festivities included a happy birthday message spelled out with mallomars, which sounds like something that should be a part of every single birthday ever. As you’ll also notice from that clip, Luke’s annual birthday present to Lorelai was to do whatever work she needed done around the house. See, they were meant to be together!
The entire “mallomar” conversation. But “So that’s a four foot chocolate cake with individual vanilla cupcakes on top spelling out Happy 16th Birthday, Lorelai?” comes in a close second because of the sheer genius of the idea.
“Pulp Friction” – Season Five, Episode Seventeen
Rory and Lorelai weren’t the only people in the Gilmore Girls universe who knew how to throw a great party. Logan’s friends might have been jerks, but they were jerks with style. Finn’s Quentin Tarantino themed birthday party made me wish I had rich friends from Yale.
Even though I loved the Quentin Tarantino party (and Rory in her Chilton uniform) the best part of the episode was the Luke/Lorelai reunion. And this exchange.
Lorelai – “This is not coffee. This is a mocha, chocolate, caramel, swirl-a-chino with extra whipped cream.”
Luke – “That sounds disgusting.”
“It is. And if it were physically possible to make love to a hot beverage this would be the one.”
“Twenty-One is the Loneliest Number” – Season Six, Episode Seven
This is my least favorite Gilmore Girls birthday episode because I hated Rory and Lorelai being apart. Rory and Lorelai had had the best plans to celebrate Rory’s 21st birthday in Atlantic City, but instead she was living with her grandparents and had a typical Emily formal affair, complete with a signature drink. OK, I actually had a signature drink and my birthday party last night. But I bet you a million dollars that mine was better than The Rory.
Lorelai (to Luke) – “We were going to go to Atlantic City. We were going to sit at a blackjack table at eleven fifty-nine. We were going to order martinis and we were going to be playing twenty-one when she turned twenty-one. And then hopefully we’d win and we take our winnings and we’d buy twenty-one things. And then there was a thing about twenty-one guys that wouldn’t really be appropriate anymore since the engagement, but – it was a good plan. She probably doesn’t even remember the plan.”
Rory (later on to Logan) - “We were going to go to Atlantic City and sit at a blackjack table at eleven fifty-nine, and we’d be playing twenty-one when I turned twenty-one. We were going to drink martinis, and win money, and go buy twenty-one things, and there was this thing including twenty-one guys that would be totally inappropriate now that I’m with you, but – it was a pretty big thing, and now we’re not talking so it’s not going to happen. I’m just a little bummed, that’s all.”
“Super Cool Party People” – Season Six, Episode Twenty
This could be a runner-up for least favorite birthday party episode ever, because I stand by my belief that Luke long lost daughter April was the worst thing to ever happen to the show. It’s when everything went off the rails, and it didn’t recover until almost the last episode. But this episode, where Lorelai helped Luke turn April’s dreary disaster of a party into a seriously awesome makeover fest was a rare highlight. We never got to see Lorelai throw a birthday party for Rory as a kid, and it was a brief glimpse into what a fun mom Lorelai must have been when Rory was growing up.
Luke – ” No, it’s not ridiculous! You’re colorful, you’re funny. You’re practically a cartoon character. Kids love you. I wouldn’t want to hang out with me either after meeting someone like you.”
“I am Kayak, Hear Me Roar” – Season Seven, Episode Fifteen
I don’t remember a lot about this episode, but I do remember that birthdays were used to highlight the differences in Logan and Rory’s upbringings. Logan was rich and smart and adventurous but his family was all kinds of suck. He never got to experience fun, special birthdays like Rory did. Logan went along with all the birthday plans that Rory made for him even though he got some bad news about a business deal, which says a lot about him. I was glad Rory didn’t end up married at the end of the series, but I did grow to like Logan.
This entire exchange, in which Patty and Babette discuss the Luke/Lorelai/Christopher love triangle using animals as code.
Babette: Yeah, it’s true. He’s definitely moved out. Last time I saw the…‘beagle’s’ car in the driveway was days ago. Then I saw the mover’s truck…so only the …’hen’ is living there now.
Patty: So did the hen break up with the beagle or the beagle break up with the hen?
Babette: I don’t know.
Patty: (Gasp) The poor hen.
Babette: Yeah, she’s been through so much.
Patty: You know, I was just kinda getting use to him…the beagle.
Babette: But he’s not right for her. He’s a beagle you know and beagles…beagles belong with beagles.
Patty: And the hen belongs with the rooster. (She nods her head towards Luke)
Patty: Well…does the rooster know about the hen and the beagle?
Babette: Oh yeah, eastside Tilley was in here blabbing her big mouth off.
Patty: Oh…and how did he take it? Did you see his face?
Babette: Well yeah but you know the rooster. It’s like looking at Stonehenge. I don’t know what he thinks.
Patty: Oh…I hope he gets his act together because I think they’re perfect.
Babette: Yeah. But maybe the hen belongs with someone else…like a penguin or an ostrich.
To the best of my knowledge, those are the Gilmore Girls birthday parties. And frankly, these are just the tip of the iceberg. The show threw plenty of non-birthday related parties over seven seasons, the most memorable being the town’s farewell party for Rory in the series finale.
What’s your favorite TV birthday party?