A Note on Melissa McCarthySarah Heyward

I loved Bridesmaids. I really did. Mike and Molly? Haven’t seen it, but hey, I’ll assume it’s doing something right. The fact that Melissa McCarthy is on her merry way to becoming a full-fledged comedy star makes me seriously happy. She’s hilarious, eccentric, silly, and seems to be quite down-to-earth. Brava, Melissa. Brava.

But (you know this was coming), I have some major beef with the way she’s being portrayed in the media right now. Of all the articles, interviews, sidebars, and radio spots to feature this brilliant comedienne, I’m pretty sure not a single one has adequately acknowledged the fact that, to many of us, she was already a star. A star by the name of Sookie St. James, Head Chef at the Dragonfly Inn, Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Oh, Gilmore Girls, how quickly we have forsaken thee.

What do these journalists and entertainment hosts think this woman has been doing for the past ten years? Can she really be called an “overnight sensation” when she was one of the most important characters on one of the best television shows of all time? For SEVEN YEARS? If anything, I was hoping that all this attention on Ms. McCarthy would lead to some kind of national rediscovery of Gilmore Girls: an uptick in DVD sales or ABC Family syndication ratings, rekindled reunion movie rumors, perhaps a posthumous Emmy Award. But barring that, at the very least I’d like to think these newly ardent Melissa McCarthy fans would at least want to check out the work she cut her comedy teeth on!

In her splashy Entertainment Weekly cover story, Gilmore Girls is paid tribute with a meager one-line mention: “There followed a tremendous decade of steady work, including seven years playing the adorably off-kilter chef Sookie on Gilmore Girls.” And then the writer goes on to unfavorably compare that role with the “fully-realized” character she plays in Bridesmaids. Poor Sookie!

What the world needs to realize is that Melissa McCarthy has always been a comedic gem. I present to you a by-no-means-comprehensive list of some of Sookie’s funniest moments as proof:

“The Deer-Hunters” – Season 1, Episode 4 – Sookie tracks down a restaurant reviewer who gave her magic risotto a good but not great review. She’s hilariously persistent and while she comes off as totally insane, he does reevaluate and deem the risotto delicious.

“Cinnamon’s Wake” – Season 1, Episode 5 – Sookie keeps cracking jokes when Lorelai tries to talk to her about something. Lorelai tells her she’s being philosophical, and Sookie comes back with the perfectly delivered, “Oh, serious face. Jean-Paul Sartre.” Brilliant.

“A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” – Season 3, Episode 9 – Sookie gets wasted at her Thanksgiving dinner. Her depiction of a drunkenly serene woman watching her husband’s buffoon friends deep-fry everything she owns is a work of subtle genius.

“Keg! Max!” – Season 3, Episode 19 – While Luke is fixing her oven, Sookie realizes she has accidentally been resting her hand on his butt the entire time. She then proceeds to discuss this with Lorelai while Luke is still sitting there.

“Die Jerk!” – Season 4, Episode 8 – Sookie and her choice of midwife, a large woman named Bruce, are the stars of this episode for me. I love how Sookie kowtows under Bruce’s formidable presence, while also completely ignoring how much Lorelai hates the idea of a midwife.

“Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant!” – Season 5, Episode 6 – Sookie becomes increasingly infuriated at (the real) Norman Mailer, who has taken up residency at her restaurant at the Dragonfly, yet never orders anything. She also delivers one of my favorite angry moments (“Ann hates me!”)  in her reaction to accountant Ann, who tells Lorelai that they need to cut back, possibly by not serving lunch anymore.

“We’ve Got Magic to Do” – Season 6, Episode 5 – Sookie’s horrified reaction to the audience-participation elements of the children’s performance is comedy gold.

“Super Cool Party People” – Season 6, Episode 20 – Sookie’s entire opening monologue describing Lorelai’s drunken behavior at Lane’s wedding should be all anyone is talking about. Ever.

“Driving Miss Gilmore” – Season 6, Episode 21 – Sookie and Jackson discover marijuana in their growing fields. Need I say more?

There are so many other tiny little Sookie moments I could mention (when she holes up in the Dragonfly stealing chocolate and watching reruns, her funny relationship with Emily Gilmore, the fact that she once wanted to make every guest at the Inn a meringue hat, the day that photographers arrive to take pictures of the Inn and she’s put an entire cake on each individual table), but suffice to say she is a multi-dimensional comedic charmer and, ahem, most definitely “fully-realized.”

I don’t want to detract from the immeasurable success Melissa McCarthy has had post-Gilmore. As Richard Gilmore would say (albeit of Rory at the time), “What she tackles, she conquers.” But I do want all of us Gilmore Girls fans to get a little recognition for embracing this woman years before the rest of the world caught on. Look for another impassioned rant when Paris Geller gets the lead role in the next Woody Allen movie.

Images via crushable.com

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  1. Melissa McCarthy will always be Sookie to me!!

  2. I lOVE Gilmore Girls! Thank you for this article! I loved her as Sookie! xx

  3. loved this post! sookie is one of my all-time favorite characters. and don´t even get me started on GG as a whole… i tend to get annoyingly excited :)

  4. amen! if lorelai is my tvbff, sookie is at the top of the ‘who do we want to hang out with at the black, white & red?’ list…

  5. I’m ready for Melissa to kick ‘em where it counts! (or however that phrase is supposed to go)

    Gilmore Girls will live on til the end of time.
    With Nena’s 99 Luftballoons playing in the background.
    Whilst reading every book by every author with a Russian surname.
    While wearing your porn star t-shirt to Friday night/silver spoon dinner.

  6. You have just said everything I have ever thought, ever, in my entire life, in a lovely way. Bless you! Bring Gilmore Girls back!!!

  7. You bring my thoughts to life. Thank you and even if there is no longer a possibility of a Gilmore Girls revelation, only us true fans will have that slight kindle of hope for the rest of our lives!

  8. Always my favorite character in Gilmore Girls!

  9. Here, here!

  10. I love Sookie!! I want to be just like her when I grow up…

  11. i think Melissa is a good example of what happens to every talented actor/ess on a cult tv show that finally lands mainstream recognition. Gilmore Girls was a big show, obviously, but i think it was big in a sense that it had a very large loyal fanbase. like, everyone probably knows/heard of the show but not everyone watched it. does this make sense?

    example, i think it went the same for Ryan Reynolds. i loved the show “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place” and i think it was a pretty successful show (i think it ran 3 years?) but Ryan was named The Breakout Star only after he did the Van Wilder movie.
    guess it’s like my favorite quote (from who i forgot) that said “it takes 10 years of hardwork to become an overnight sensation”. i think that puts it very well.

  12. I could not agree more! I read all the articles looking for some reference to my favorite show of all time and am always empty handed. Thank god for the Lifetime network for giving me 3 hours of GG every weekend. Now if only I could afford the complete series box set, I’d never have to leave my house again!

  13. I WAS JUST HAVING THIS DISCUSSION TONIGHT!! mind reader much?! I loved her as Sookie. Aww now I miss Gilmore Girls!

  14. GG!! I want to watch Gilmore Girls again, but I’m a poor college student that can’t afford to splurge on DVDs (rental or ownership). :(
    I used to get bummed if I ever missed an episode on ABC family; then I’d check the tv guide for any GG marathons <3 :)

    THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST POSTS I'VE COM ACROSS. Top 10 worthy.

  15. Everytime someone mentions her as someone from Bridesmaids, I’m like, “No, she’s Sookie St. James!” I will always think of her as our favorite zany chef. Now it’s time Lauren Graham got some recognition!

    • I concur.
      You know, the show itself needs [more] recognition. It’s such a wonderful show. The characters are fantastic. The humor is incredible. Well, I kinda like that it’s an underrated show. It makes my love&appreciation that much deeper :)

  16. I was thinking this exact thing about a week ago!! Thank you so much for writing this it’s SO true!!!!

  17. *snaps* THANK YOU!!! Gilmore Girls literally shaped my life as a teenage female and got me through some of the toughest times. Melissa McCarthy is just a gorgeous actress.

  18. I love Gilmore Girls, and Sookie. She was fabulous, and it is sad that she isn’t being properly recognized in a show that took up almost a decade of her life.

  19. Yes!!!! I absolutely love Gilmore Girls and have dreamed of moving to the NE and finding my own Stars Hollow. Up until the last few weeks, I have refused to watch Mike and Molly because I will always remember her as Suki St. James and I did not want to tarnish that memory in any way. The show is actually pretty good though! I still and always will prefer her as Suki, but I’m glad to see her succeeding. Now I’ve got to go watch some Gilmore Girls!!!

  20. Thank you so much for this!! I have been a Gilmore Girls fanatic, much to the chagrin of my room mates, for forever, but now the roomies all love Melissa … worse, they act like they discovered her first. My idea is to plant Gilmore Girls DVDs with Melissa’s face in each of their beds. It’ll be a different kind of awakening.