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Gilmore Girls & In Defense of Jess Mariano

Gilmore Girls & In Defense of Jess Mariano

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“What makes you think I care about you?” —Jess Mariano

[This is my last Line Drive post for a couple months! I am taking the summer off! Quickly, I want to say thank you so much to Adam and Amy for asking me to do this. This was my first dive into writing a column like this every week and I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like, but I will say that I LOVE it and thank you so much for reading even when all I talk about are my celeb crushes and knitting and the ’90s.]

If I had to choose a trivia category…and if I missed more than one or two, some evil people would begin hurting the people I loved?…I’d pick GILMORE GIRLS. That’s how confident I am in my GG trivia knowledge. My family would be safe! It would all be okay! I know my GG. Like, hardcore. I have watched and rewatched the series so many times I don’t even know how many and I have hundreds of GG soundclips. Fangirling is like a job to me and I am very good @ my job. I may not know much, but I know my shows. If there is a time and place where Felicity or Gilmore Girls trivia or quotes = currency…stick with me because I got you, boo.

What I can’t believe is that I haven’t written about Gilmore Girls yet, but also I have so many Gilmore Girls feelings it will take me SEVERAL columns to cover it. (Same thing I did for Friday Night Lights. I will be writing Part Two in the fall because fall is football time and I prettymuch always rewatch it.) Gilmore Girls is much bigger than which one of Rory’s boyfriends was the best (regardless of whether or not you don’t care or you love Logan or Jess, we can all agree that Dean is The Worst kthx) because the show is mostly about Lorelai and Rory and Emily. The Gilmore Girls. Emily is my favorite Gilmore Girl and maybe that’s what I’ll write about next. Also my BFF can’t stand Rory but loves Gilmore Girls and it cracks me up. I may write about that too.

This Line Drive episode of Gilmore Girls is in defense of Jess Mariano. I’ve mentioned it before here or somewhere else that Jess reminds me a lot of my husband. His mom makes jewelry, he had an absent father for a lot of his life, he has that gorgeous black hair and was pretty punk-ish in high school. He reads and reads and reads and reads. He is an excellent kisser. (I don’t know very much about Milo Ventimiglia, but he plays Jess and I’ve seen Jess kiss Rory about a billion times and he looks like a very good kisser. Just saying.)

I say in defense of Jess Mariano mostly because Lorelai is so awful to him and about him without really considering how much shizz Jess has had to deal with in his life. She has one soft moment about him in the The Bracebridge Dinner (2×10) episode and I love that. One little twinkling light. But most of the time she is awful about him which is extra-gross because Jess is technically a kid and Lorelai is an adult although she acts like a kid sometimes.

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Like in Teach Me Tonight (2×19) when Jess and Rory get in the wreck and Lorelai doesn’t care where Jess is or whether he is hurt or not…which is her choice. Okay, we get it. She was looking for Rory and worried about her and Rory is her only daughter. Understandable. So it’s also understandable that Luke, Jess’ uncle, would be a teensy bit concerned about where Jess was and whether or not he was okay. Lorelai is so awful when they fight in that moment. I mean, I can hardly watch it because she is The Worst. And she and Luke don’t even speak for aWhile after that because Lorelai was the worst. I am 100% on Luke’s side re: this. Rory is not the only child in the world. Jess is a kid too.

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Sure, Jess is a “bad boy.” He wears a leather jacket and skips school and can be quite taciturn, even when an adult is speaking to him. But also, Jess basically raised himself. His mom wasn’t much of a mom and his dad was never around. He gets shuttled off to Stars Hollow to live with his mother’s brother, Luke, in the apartment above Luke’s Diner which used to be his grandfather’s hardware store. New school, no friends…he prettymuch insta-bonds with Rory that first night he meets her because he sees Rory’s bookshelves and snatches her copy of Howl to write some notes in the margins. Totally annoying if he weren’t so charming and cute, but in this scene…it works. Rory has a boyfriend (Dean The Awful) though so uh oh. (And when I talk about Dean being Awful, I am only speaking of the character, not Jared Padalecki. I know nothing about him outside of the fact that he is on a show called Supernatural and there’s also a Dean on that show, but it’s not him, it’s the other brother. I THINK.)

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Jess is okay. He’s a teenage boy. He’s not the best boyfriend once he and Rory start dating, but he’s not the worst either. He’s an equal match for Rory’s intelligence and bookishness. Together, they are Literati. They hurt one another, they love one another. Amy Sherman-Palladino (the creator of the show) has said that Jess and Rory were endgame…so I’m not making all of this up. Look, I can’t find where I read it but I read it so it’s canon, yo. But on the show, in the end…it wasn’t about who Rory would end up with and I’m glad. Like I said already, it’s bigger than that, but I like to talk about it anyway. And I am not alone in this. And just like that article says…Rory cheated on both of her boyfriends with Jess, but never cheated on Jess. She also slept with both of her boyfriends, but not Jess…which has a whole sorta save the best/most real for last thing. ALSO. Jess is Luke’s nephew and if we’re thinking Lorelai and Luke at best end up married…and at worst end up Just Friends…Rory still always and forever has a connection to Jess in some way or another. Jess would pop up in Stars Hollow from time to time for whatever reason.

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(This is a pic of my BFF and me watching Gilmore Girls on our flight to Seattle because I was really anxious and Gilmore Girls calms me down. PRAYER + WINE + GILMORE GIRLS = how I soothe my airplane-anxiety aaaand also the dope name of my memoir?)

There’s a scene in the episode Lost and Found (2×15) when Rory is talking to Jess and she goes “if you care about me at all…” and Jess smirks and goes “What makes you think I care about you?” And Rory gets all flustered and goes “I don’t mean like, care-care…” AND I LOVE THAT MOMENT SO MUCH and not just because Jess is wearing a bright-red t-shirt all like RED! RED! LOOK @ ME RORY! RED IS FOR LOVE AND LUST AND HEARTBEATS!…but because it’s such a sweet teenage boyish thing for him to do. To rev the heart engine, then slam on the brakes. To flirt with her and she knows how he feels about her but it’s time for him to throw a wrench in all of that because that’s what people almost-in-love are always doing to one another. Little games we do or don’t fully admit to playing. That’s the episode where Rory thinks she lost the bracelet Dean gave to her but really Jess has the bracelet because it fell off and he kept it because it was hers and he wanted something of hers. Jess didn’t know Dean gave it to her. But Rory is so scared of Dean finding out she lost it and getting mad at her that she makes up a lie about how she had to take it off because it was giving her a rash. She’s scared to death of making Dean angry. When Jess finds out, he puts it back in her room so she can find it. So her boyfriend won’t get angry.

Same thing happens when Rory can’t turn off the sprinklers in Eight O’clock At The Oasis (3×15).


Rory can’t turn them off so she pages Dean (pages!) and as she’s running to go get help, she sees Jess and Jess comes over and turns them off for her. But by that time, Dean has paged Rory back and is on his way so what does Jess do? TURN THE SPRINKLERS BACK ON so Dean can come play hero and we wouldn’t want Dean to get angry because he might get his big white Stetson dirty, right? And don’t forget in There’s The Rub (2×16) when Jess brings food over for Paris and Rory while they’re studying and Dean shows up and cusses at Rory about it and Paris has to lie and cover for Rory because once again, we don’t want Dean to get angry because Dean is the worst. But Jess isn’t scared of Dean. And even when Dean is creepily ridiculous and literally corners Jess in a dark alley and claims that Stars Hollow is HIS TOWN…even though Dean has only recently moved from Chicago and Jess’ grandfather owned a successful Stars Hollow Business and Jess’ uncle now runs probably the most recognizable/popular business in town…Jess avoids a fight with Dean. He’s not the instigator. Dean is. Because Dean is the worst.

BTW: I’ll have to talk about Logan in Part Two of this because I don’t have room here. But I don’t hate Logan. Sometimes I quite like Logan. And he’s charming. And I get it. I do. (I want to go to a Vampire Weekend concert with Logan Huntzberger and some fancy party in the Hamptons afterwards. I wouldn’t like care-care about him that way, but we’d have rich-people-fun and he looks like he smells good!)

MY FAVORITE JESS EPISODES:
2×05: Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy
2×10: The Bracebridge Dinner
2×13: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
2×15: Lost and Found
2×16: There’s the Rub
2×19: Teach Me Tonight
2×21: Lorelai’s Graduation Day
2×22: I Can’t Get Started
3×01: Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days
3×07: They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?
3×08: Let the Games Begin
3×09: A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving
3×14: Swan Song
3×17: A Tale of Poes and Fire
3×19: Keg! Max!
4×12: A Family Matter
4×13: Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels
6×08: Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out
6×18: The Real Paul Anka

So, yeah. Prettymuch all of them. They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They? is probably my very favorite episode. And A Tale of Poes and Fire is like comfort medicine for me, truly. I used to watch it every night before bed or at least have it playing because it is really soothing for me in ways I can’t fully explain.

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I AM NOT SAYING JESS IS PERFECT. Not @ all. He screws up a lot. But. Point is, I think Jess does damn well considering he’s been practically abandoned by both of his parents. Like even when he goes out to California, his dad will barely let him crash on the couch. Jess doesn’t have anyone. No, he’s not perfect but he grows through the series. The Jess of season six is nothing like season two Jess. Season six Jess has written a novel. The Subsect! He works for a small press in Philly. Season six Jess Mariano owns a blazer and has Peter Petrelli hair! He lets Rory kiss him and use him to get back at Logan if that’s what she wants to do. He doesn’t make a big deal about it. Rory drops out of Yale and no one can get her to go back, but Jess does! I’m just saying he’s not all bad. I’m just saying I love him. That’s all. That’s the little puff of Line Drive goodness that can float over all of us this summer, when there are no new episodes: the fact that I love and defend Jess Mariano and love Gilmore Girls forever. This is very important stuff. It is! Truly and true. AND I LOVE YOU. And I’ll leave you with what one of my fourth-grade friends wrote in my elementary school yearbook: HAVE A GOOD SUMMER AND I HOPE YOU DON’T GET HURT! xx

Leesa Cross-Smith

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of Every Kiss a War and the editor of WhiskeyPaper.

Latest posts by Leesa Cross-Smith (see all)

About The Author

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of Every Kiss a War and the editor of WhiskeyPaper.

  • Natalia Castells-Esquivel

    <3 So perfect

  • Rosalie Oliver

    I agree with you. In fact, apart from Rory and Luke, I think everyone else in Stars Hollow is ridiculously hard on Jess. I mean for starters he’s only 17. A lot of people at that age get to trouble. He has a good reason to be messed up because of the life he’s had: the whole reason he was sent to Stars Hollow in the first place. Plus, most of the trouble he causes seem like harmless pranks: stealing baseballs, drawing a chalk outline on the pavement etc. Nobody except Luke and Rory give him a chance.

  • Kimberly

    <3 <3 Yes Yes Yes. Lets hope they're endgame in the Netflix reboot!!

  • Karen

    Totally agree with you. Jess had a hard life and was just a kid trying to deal with his issues. I don’t understand why Lorelai is so hard on him.

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