Michelle and Rory, Sitting in a Library
When Barack and Michelle Obama became the most media savvy and best-dressed First Couple in our collective memories, we all nodded, sage. It made sense. Sure, Barack would want to keep his Blackberry, and obviously Michelle Obama wore Lululemon. (OMG, that last sentence. Were we ever so young? Now he has a toddler phone.)
But their media participation in the last few months has really, really impressed me. It’s just so…relevant. Like, of course they went to Hamilton, that’s a given. But also Obama did an interview with Buzzfeed and Marc Maron’s podcast. They’re right there. You feel like they get stuck on the same places you do in Netflix and on Twitter – which is, itself, incredible. But Michelle Obama hanging out with Rory Gilmore talking about her Let Girls Learn Initiative feels like a strange fever-dream. Like when Blossom dreamed that Clair Huxtable was her mom and explained about fallopian tubes with icing.
Just a couple of girls talking about books... (👻: michelleobama)https://t.co/CS48LB9fk7— Gilmore Girls (@GilmoreGirls) June 25, 2016
Partly it’s because they’re from different eras. We haven’t seen Rory Gilmore up and walking around since she went off to follow the Obama campaign in 2007. Sure, you may have known Michelle Obama existed back then, but you didn’t know she was going to be this cool, that her “Yeah, OK, I’ll humor you” schtick she does with celebrities was going to hold up for this long. Extra points for ‘Snap…Chat…Account’.
Meanwhile, Rory Gilmore is here, walking and talking in the flesh! Full credit to Alexis Bledel, who had to be first out of the gate with her nine-years-later resurrection of her character. And it was Rory, to a really decent extent. Like of course she would be late to meet the First Lady! And of course she brings Zadie Smith, and it wouldn’t be Rory without a mention of Proust. She totally sells Anna Karenina and The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as beach reads. I know there’s been debate about Bledel’s acting skills overall, but maybe it’s just one of those things where this is the role she was born to play. I don’t feel like I’m looking at Alexis—it’s definitely Rory, even if she’s mellowed a little now that she’s now thirty-one. She’s also not exactly in her old environment. This production was made, let’s say, quickly: the audio is kind of echoey, and they commit the ultimate Film/TV school crime by crossing the axis of interaction! The fact that the Rory-ness shines through all of this makes me very, very happy.
But, you know, I had some bumps. First of all, after six viewings, I’ve decided this script was written by someone in Mrs. Obama’s office, and then workshopped by one of the Palladinos. But it did not come from their pens, because Rory Gilmore would not blithely recommend something as basic as Jane Austen or Sophie’s Choice to the First Lady - she would be spiraling out, trying to decide whether Mrs. Obama would be taking sides in the Jonathan Safran Foer/Nicole Krauss saga. Also, is Rory the…White House librarian now? Special Literature Attache?
Some of the other changes in Rory need a little evaluation too. Is she the kind of person who uses ‘the Bard’ unironically? She’s not overly familiar but she does pass on boxes of PopTarts, so…what kind of a woman has the younger Lorelai become?
And then to bring it full circle, does this make Michelle O a Gilmore fan? Do you think she watched it back then, or mainlines it on Netflix when Barack is away on trips? Who reached out to who in this situation, and are we going to get a scene where Mrs. Obama gives Rory a Come-to-Jesus talk about how none of her ex-boyfriends are really worth her time?