During my binge watch of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I enjoyed Rachel Brosnahan’s fantastic clothing, Paris, the Catskills and all of the typical Amy Sherman-Palladino things that are typical of her brand. In season two, I found something also typical of my experience of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s work starting to rise up. I started shipping the wrong thing.
Watching Midge and Joel Maisel, the separated couple with unhealthy habits, a magnetic draw to one another, and two children together, I couldn’t help but think that we are getting to see Gilmore Girls’ Christopher and Lorelai all over again, but this time with the Christopher role being a real defined character and not just a sperm donor with a plot device-o’meter.
In Gilmore Girls, my favorite of the hetero-ships are Paris/Doyle, Rory/Logan, and (to the chagrin and consternation of many) Christopher/Lorelai. Okay, before the pitchforks start, the reason I enjoy Christopher/Lorelai is that 1) they have great chemistry together and 2) Christopher is written to be a plot device, and he is so inconsistent that I truly don’t think he has ever earned the ire we are supposed to feel about him within the universe of the characters. I say this as someone who really hated Luke/Lorelai after season six and a lot of Luke’s more bro-y aspects.
I don’t enjoy Christopher because I think he’s a fantastic character, I enjoy Christopher because he encompasses all the blank spaces in the timeline that exists in Lorelai’s backstory. Whenever I rewatch the show, I’m always so astounded at how what Lorelai says she’s experienced is so different from the visual evidence we get on the show. I don’t think it was until season six that I got a clear understanding of the suffocation Lorelai might have felt under Richard/Emily when Rory went to live with her grandparents after yacht-gate. Yet even that was so tainted in a lack of communication and substituting snark for conversation, that I just could empathize, but never understand.
Christopher is a part of that because he is portrayed as this deadbeat dad who had no involvement in Rory’s life, is irresponsible, and feckless in a way that is bad in comparison to the way Lorelai gets to be both incompetent and amazing within the same episode. However, while Emily and Richard get moments that humanize them and show their side of the story, Christopher is often simply brought out in order to begin drama. He’s not a real character and that makes me honestly like him because there is nothing that irritates me more than characters we are supposed to feel a certain way about, because it’s narratively easy.
Joel is a more fully realized version of Christopher. The show takes the time to highlight his insecurities and immaturity as a man married to a very independent and hilarious woman. Now while Christopher was never turned off by Lorelai’s nature, the narrative says that he didn’t mature, because not playing an active role in raising Rory kept him from having to grow up.
What I love about watching Midge and Joel’s relationship is that it is these are two people who have chemistry, passion, and a shared dynamic, but for personal growth reasons, they can’t be each other’s true love. Unlike Christopher and Lorelai, Midge doesn’t have a pre-ordained endgame-type, so her relationship with Joel is allowed to be a dramatic powerful story of two people who want to be with each other but emotionally can’t. It’s made even more interesting with the emergence of new boyfriend Benjamin in season two (played by Captain Marvel himself, Zachary Levi) who presents as a very Luke-like figure. He does everything right, enjoys the fact that Midge is weird, is totally secure in himself, and is a stud-ly giant.
Yet the person Midge goes to at the end of season two is Joel. That push and pull between the person who is “right” for your personality wise vs the person who is “right” for you in balancing temperament is something Sherman-Palladino has done well. I sadly find myself on team one. I think that while Joel is definitely not a “good guy,” especially consider the heartless way he left Midge, I appreciate the humanity and flaws of his as a partner compared to the perfection of Benjamin.
Thankfully, we have time to see if Joel will rise to the occasion, but in the meanwhile seeing Midge and Joel together make me long for a chance to see more of Christopher/Lorelai the pre-series years. But maybe that’s the star-crossed romantic in me.
Who are some of your favorite couples who weren’t endgame?
(image: The WB/Amazon)
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