Warning: spoilers for Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life ahead. You could color me shocked when Rory Gilmore came into Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life with a boyfriend that wasn’t one of her big three — Dean, Jess, or Logan. Instead, she had Paul, a guy she’s been dating for two years and whom no one can seem to remember (including Rory). Fortunately, the actor who plays Paul in the Gilmore Girls revival is much more memorable than his unfairly overlooked character.
In the first episode of the revival, "Winter," Rory forgets about Paul, Lorelai forgets about him, Emily forgets about him, and Luke forgets about him. And he and Rory have been together for two years! That’s 20 percent of a decade! Lorelai said that Paul's superpower is that no matter how much time you spend with him, you can't remember anything about him, and she has a point here. Paul seems pretty nice and intelligent, but he is completely unmemorable — so unmemorable, in fact, that it takes he and Rory almost a whole year from when we meet him for them to break up, because she keeps forgetting to do it. In the end, it's Paul who breaks up with Rory, doing it via text message with a “take care” tacked onto the end. At least he’s polite.
Jack Carpenter is the man who plays the oft-forgotten Paul, and he may look familiar to you if you’re a fan of legal dramas or teenage comedies. Carpenter got his start in the Amanda Bynes-driven movie Sydney White before moving onto other roles in shows like The Return Of Jezebel James (which Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, created before it was cancelled), Law & Order, Switched at Birth, and Reckless.
He’s most remembered (in my mind, at least) for playing Rich in I Love You, Beth Cooper with Hayden Panettiere (you can see what he looked like in that movie below), and for playing Patric Edelstein on The Good Wife, where he worked with Matt Czuchry, aka Logan Huntzberger. Like Law & Order veterans, it seems that Hollywood is filled with people within a few degrees of separation from Gilmore Girls.
Maybe it's just because Carpenter is so likable, but frankly, I think Paul is too good for Rory. I’m glad their relationship wasn’t meant to be. Paul brings flowers to dinner. He listens to people when they talk. He offers to fix computer viruses for his girlfriend’s mother. He also is secure enough to want to maintain a relationship with Rory while she traipses around the world as a writer. And yet, Rory treats him like garbage.
She forgets to invite him to breakfast, misses dates, and strings him along for months while wanting to end their relationship. She even says, “I can’t believe the way I treated him,” and I'm glad she was finally at least able to acknowledge how thoughtless her behavior was. I'm also glad that Paul was the one who dumped Rory — he was finally able to stand up for himself.
Rory has long struggled with relationships — for a writer, I never thought she was all that great at expressing her feelings or being honest about what she wanted. And now that she has one big, unexpected event coming down the pike, Rory needs to focus on herself. Paul can go do Paul, and find a relationship where he's really appreciated.
Images: Netflix; dralenealderson/Tumblr (2); 20th Century Fox