A Note on Melissa McCarthy

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/szarrinkelk Sepideh Zarrinkelk

    YESSSS!!! Bless this post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552088884 Larissa Jekimovics

    I’m re-watching Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time (currently amid the drama of season six) and have come to the same realization as you: Melissa McCarthy is gold as Sookie.

    One of the moments I have been waiting for is the “super cool party people” monologue, but I had forgotten the hilarious (and somehow believable) escapades that occur when Sookie and Jackson find the marijuana. You’ve given me another fantastic moment to look forward to!

  • http://www.facebook.com/samilia Rachele Potter

    THIS! I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that Melissa McCarthy HAS BEEN amazing for EVER…not just now that she’s in Bridesmaids. Thanks for writing this for everyone to see!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=599866139 Melissa Prescott

    BRING BACK GILMORE GIRLS!!
    Super cool party people bid you super cool adieu!! Sookie is brilliant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663698080 Emily Renner

    Amen, sister. A-freaking-men!

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.herrin1 Beth Herrin Cole

    I AGREE! I was mad at that article for the one line brush off of the brilliance of Sookie. I love the super cool party people bit (and I quote it all the time)… but it ties with the drunken scene from a deep-fried Korean thanksgiving… the way she says “a napkin” and when she goes through the stages of grieving… and then the question “Am i crying or laughing?” cracks me up every time. Every year I watch that on thanksgiving… even if I’m already past it in my re-watchings…
    god, i love the gilmore girls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/spiiiiice Rachael Graham

    This is fantastic, I was also blown away when reading the EW article and they barely mentioned her role as Sookie! I love that show and McCarthy :3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25701323 Kristina Stonehill

    I love everything you’re saying to me right now! From your fingers to America’s eyes. ALSO, does anyone remember the episode when she’s introducing herself to Lorelai’s grandmother and does that wonderful dance/reenactment of how she cut the back of her chef’s coat CUZ I DO!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002408674149 Ana Lugo

      My favorite Gilmore Girls moment by far! Second only to Jess coming back to show Rory the book he wrote… Milo Ventimiglia…

  • http://www.facebook.com/EliseMcCarthy92 Elise McCarthy

    Seriously! Sookie was always my favorite! So glad someone else noticed the lack of Gilmore Girls mentions!

  • http://www.facebook.com/yajaira.n.calderon Yajaira Nuribeth Calderon

    Ah how I miss Gilmore Girls! I wonder what Rory, Lorelai and Sookie are doing for Thanksgiving….every year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23318214 Betsy Becker

      not skipping the rolls!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1600112899 Lyndsay Miron

    I couldn’t agree more! Every time I here about Melissa McCarthy’s newfound success I think, SHE WAS SOOKIE FIRST! I also read that Entertainment Weekly article and was very disappointed that her work on Gilmore Girls only got one sentence :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/emilychonch Emily Chionchio

    Thank you for finally acknowledging what so many of us regular people have been thinking but SO many writers have ignored. Sookie St James was amazing, Gilmore Girls for life!

  • http://www.facebook.com/classydanielle Danielle Paff

    Amen! I’ve been waiting for people to realize she’s soo much more than Bridesmaids and Mike and Molly. She was one of my favorite characters on Gilmore Girls!

  • http://www.facebook.com/CaptainCharghli Charley Swarley Ellis

    Hear Hear!! One of the reasons I went to watch Bridesmaids is for my love of Sookie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669966112 Sarah Hanasewych

    I love love love this! I’m actually watching Gilmore Girls on ABCFamily as we speak!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amariepazo Ashley Rodriguez-Pazo

    Exactly!!! I Loved Gilmore Girls and Sookie made it worth watching! I hope to see MUCH more of Melissa McCarthy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.wickham Kelly Mochamomma Wickham

    When Sookie thinks she gets every disease that everyone has (including prostate cancer) and Lorelei confronts her ennui, Sookie snaps out of it with her giddy, squealy “Off-ui!” and I die. Every time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Leighace Jeanne Ava

    Finally. As a major Gilmore Girls fan and total admirer of Sookie, I’ve been waiting for this acknowledgement for quite some time. I’m beyond happy for Melissa right now, I mean seriously, she deserved that Emmy for just being the genius she is (I, like Sarah herself, have not yet watched Mike&Molly). I admired her since I started watching Gilmore Girls at the age of 13 and still am… as I said before, FINALLY – this post had to be written.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1330375219 Cara McMahon

    Yes! Thank you for giving the brilliantly hillarious Sookie St. James some credit! The only thing missing from this list in my opinion is the cookie song from Season 1 Episode 8, Love, War and Snow: “the cookies for the love and the dean and the cookies for the love and the dean and the cookies for the love and the . . .” one of my most favorite Sookie moments!

    • http://www.facebook.com/shinyunicorn Sarah Heyward

      OMG this is one of my favorite lines and I almost included it but wasn’t sure how memorable it was to other people! Dying right now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/a.sharmin.h Sharmin Haque

      lol! thats soo funny cause i just watched that episode a few days ago! I mostly watched it cause its almost winter and that episode has a scene with lorelai looking up at snow all dazed and what not.. But none the less Sookie is AWESOME!! One of my favourite scenes of her is in like the first season where shes like all over the place and clumsy but somehow the entire kitchen staff has learned to work their way around her and taking care of her silly little mistakes

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebekah.sitz Rebekah Sitz

    I’ve been following Melissa McCarthy’s career because of her zany role on Gilmore Girls — she’s always been a comedienne gem! Shame on the media for not recognizing the fact that she’s been killin’ it since her start. I guess they just don’t recognize true hilarity before it’s gone big. Long live Sookie!

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