Leaving home to go to college might be the best thing to ever happen to Rory Gilmore.
With any luck, the separation from her mother, Lorelai, might help break Rory of the obnoxious habit she has of dropping historical and cultural references into every statement she makes.
On "Gilmore Girls" - which started its fourth season on The WB last Tuesday - Rory and her mother engage constantly in conversations that are so competitive that watching them can be one of the most stressful experiences you'll ever have watching TV. The show's writers must believe the repartee they've written for their mother-daughter characters sounds witty and real.
But to a viewer, their dialogue is like an exercise in one-upmanship, with both women trying to appear cleverer than the other.
In last week's season premiere, when Rory (Alexis Bledel) felt trapped at her grandmother's house, she called mom (Lauren Graham) and requested her help. Exclaimed Rory, "This is Iran in 1979 and you're Jimmy Carter!"
Would an 18-year-old in 2003 really say this, no matter how precocious she is? Mom admitted later she didn't get it anyway.
Well, there's no question Rory's a smarty-pants. This season, she's off to Yale, which isn't too far from the show's fictional Connecticut town of Stars Hollow.
In the second episode of the season, Rory and Lorelai finally make a break from each other, although it's possibly the longest good-bye in the history of parents dropping their kids off at school. Even after saying good-bye more than once, Lorelai winds up spending the night in Rory's dorm room.
Despite her going away to college, the proximity of New Haven will allow Rory to pop in and out of her mother's home probably every single episode of the new season.
The Yale setting is already allowing for the introduction of a number of new peer characters for Rory as she settles in to college life.
Also possible this season is a romance between Lorelai and Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), the handsome but scruffy Stars Hollow diner owner whose relationship with his own girlfriend is now kaput following a summer cruise in which they were impulsively married and then decided to divorce days later.
With his backward baseball caps and refusal to shave regularly, Luke can be said to have a maturity deficit, something he shares with Lorelai, who tries way too hard to position herself as a teen-aged peer of her daughter's, rather than her mother.
With "Gilmore Girls" maturing as a series as it enters its fourth season, it wouldn't hurt to have Lorelai and, possibly, Luke do a little growing up of their own this season.
Credit: New York Post Online Edition
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