This is the first part to my new series where I go through every pop culture reference in Gilmore Girls, episode by episode. Starting this week with all 40 in the pilot - in chronological order of course.
- “You’re a regular Jack Kerouac”
Said by Lorelai, to Joey (a guy hitting on her in Lukes) when he tells her he is passing through on his way to Hartford.
explanation: Jack Kerouac was an American novelist. His most famous book On the Road (1957) talks about Kerouac and his friends travelling through the U.S by car. Lorelai, then, uses his name to describe Joey as he is doing the same thing.
- “RuPaul doesn’t need this much make-up”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai, after Lorelai offers an insane number of options to Rory when she asks for Lip gloss.
explanation: RuPaul is an American drag queen (by definition, a drag queen is a person who uses drag clothing and a lot of make up to imitate and often exaggerate female features)
- “I’m sorry. I lost my Macy Gray CD and I need caffeine”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai, when Lorelai claims that her daughter is crabby
explanation: Macy Gray is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and actress.
- “Look, Officer Krupke”
Said by Lorelai, to Luke, when she is trying to get coffee for Rory and he accuses of her of using her daughter as an excuse to get more coffee from him.
explanation: Officer Krupke is a fictional character from West Side Story, he is a uniformed beat police officer who can be seen trying to get the two street gangs in line on multiple occasions.
- “what’s with the mummu?”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, in reference to her massively oversized jumper.
explanation: A Mummu is a loose dress, originally from Hawaii. They can also be used as maternity dresses as they are so loose-fitting. Although Rory’s jumper is white, a mummu is frequently brightly coloured with floral patterns.
- “Rory, if my parents still get upset over the obscene portion size of American food, I seriously doubt I’m gonna make any inroads with Eminem”
Said by Lane, to Rory, when discussing how Lane is hiding her music taste from her parents.
explanation: Eminem is a white American rapper, known as one of the most controversial (and best-selling) artists of the early 21st century.
- “For those of you that have not finished the final chapters of Huckleberry Finn you may use this time to do so”
Said by Rory’s teacher, to the class, when handing out assignments.
explanation: Huckleberry Finn is an 1884 book by Mark Twain, told from the perspective of Huck Finn, a barely literate teen who fakes his own death to escape his abusive, drunken father. It is often taught in schools.
- “Could be a slam book”
Said by Rory’s classmates, amongst each other, when they are discussing what Rory could be writing (spoiler: it was the assignment).
explanation: A slam book is a notebook passed amongst children and teenagers. It can be used by the keeper for writing thoughts about other people or can be passed around friends as a way to talk about gossip. Called a slam book because when teachers come near, the book would be slammed shut and covered with homework, paper etc.
- “there’s no way Mark Twain could compete with that”
Said by Lane to Rory. We seem to catch the end of a conversation between the two here with Lane asking “Well was it a good colour at least”, Rory responding that “it had sparkles in it” and “smelled like bubble gum when it dried”. This is when Lane makes the reference.
explanation: Mark Twain was an American humorist, novelist and travel writer. He is the author of Huckleberry Finn (see reference 7 above). As we joined in the conversation halfway through its difficult to explain why Lane makes this reference.
- “She can finally go to Harvard”
Said by Lorelai, to Sookie, when celebrating Rory’s acceptance to a private school. Lorelai is excited about where this will lead her in her future life and success.
explanation: Harvard is an Ivy League University in America. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and among the most prestigious in the world.
- “I’m gonna be in a Britney Spears video?”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai and Sookie, after she is presented with a checkered skirt (her new Chilton uniform) as her mum tells her she has been accepted to Chilton.
explanation: Britney Spears is an American singer who wore a checkered skirt in the music video to ‘Hit Me (Baby One More Time)’ where she played a school girl.
- “There are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I’d reenact before I’d resort to that option”
Said by Lorelai, to Sookie, when Lorelai is trying to figure out how to get money for Rory’s school. Sookie suggests asking her parents for money to which Lorelai responds with the reference.
explanation: Stephen King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels.
- “You look like you were swallowed by a kilt”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, when Rory asks how she looks in her new uniform (a long-checkered skirt).
explanation: A kilt is a garment resembling a knee length skirt of pleated tartan cloth, traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress.
- “At Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house”
Said by Lorelai, to Sookie, when Sookie asks where the Pate is.
explanation: Zsa Zsa Gabor is a Hungarian- American Actress and socialite, known for her extravagant Hollywood lifestyle. Since Lorelai sees having Pate as fancy or pretentious, she references Zsa Zsa Gabor.
- “How are the girls at the bridge club”
Said by Lorelai, to Emily, when she is making polite conversation with her mother.
explanation: Bridge is a card game, especially popular in the late 19th and early 20th century and amongst seniors (hence Emily’s response: “old”).
- “There’s academic-minded and then there’s Amish”
Said by Lane, to Rory, when Rory is expressing her excitement that everyone at Chilton wears the same clothes and is just there to learn.
explanation: The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian church. They believe strongly in education but only provide formal education. They believe that you cannot wear make up or use accessories, sleeves must reach elbows, women must cook and clean etc.
- “You’re like Ruth Gordon just standing there with a tannis root.”
Said by Rory, to Dean, after she drops her books and is picking them up. As she is picking them up, she sees Deans legs stood standing by her while he is silent.
explanation: Ruth Gordon is an American actress, screenwriter and playwright who played Minnie Castevet (rosemary’s neighbour) in Rosemary’s baby. Rosemary’s baby is a 1968 American psychological horror film where a young wife believes that her child is not of this world. A tannis root is the fictional, mysterious herb used by the devil worshiping neighbors of Rosemary in the film Rosemary’s baby.
- “Rosemary’s baby”
Said by Dean, to Rory, in response to point number 17.
explanation: see point 17. He is expressing that he knows the reference.
- “Chicago. Windy. Oprah.”
Said by Rory, to Dean, in response to Dean telling her that he and his family just moved from Chicago.
explanation: Chicago is a city in Illinois (a state in the Midwestern region of the United States) and is amongst the largest cities in the U.S. Despite Chicago only ranking 12th windiest among the nation’s major cities, Chicago is often called ‘Windy City’. Oprah is an American talk show host whose talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ is broadcast from Chicago.
- “She says her feminism just kind of took over. But personally, I think a lot of Demerol also went into that decision”
Said by Rory, to Dean, when explaining that her mum (Lorelai) named Rory after herself.
explanation: Feminism is the ‘advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. Lorelai believes that men name their sons after themselves so women should name daughters after themselves – equality. Demerol is a synthetic compound used as a painkilling drug, especially for women in labour.
- “She teaches dance. She was actually on Broadway once.”
Said by Rory, to Dean, talking about Miss Patty.
explanation: Broadway, or Broadway theatre, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of 40 professional theatres, located in Manhattan New York. Most, but not all, shows on Broadway are musicals meaning you need skills in singing, dance and acting. It is highly prestigious with the best Broadway shows awarded tony awards (an award you get for distinguished achievement in American theatre) each year.
- “So, how are you liking Moby-Dick?” (Rory: Oh, it’s really good/ Dean: yeah?) “It’s my first Melville.
Said by Dean, to Rory, making conversation.
explanation: Moby-Dick (also known as the whale) is an 1851 novel by American author Herman Melville. Often considered to be a Great American Novel and an important piece of literature. Some of his other best-known works include: Typee, Billy Budd and Omoo.
- “Last week it was Madame Bovary”
Said by Dean, to Rory, as he tells her he’s noticed her and noticed what she reads.
explanation: Madame Bovary is an 1857 book by Gustabe Flaubert and tells the story of a marriage that ends in tragedy. It is often called the study of human stupidity and the ‘romantic malady’. It is Flaubert’s first published novel and considered his masterpiece.
- “One-two-three. It’s a waltz, ladies”
Said by Miss Patty, to her classroom of young girls.
explanation: Waltz is a dance in triple time performed by a couple, who together turn rhythmically round as they progress around the dance floor. It is a ballroom and folk dance.
- “You’re gonna have to turn into friggin’ Flo Jo to get away from me.”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory as she tries to get away from her mum.
explanation: Flo Jo, or Florence Joyner is an American track and field athlete. She was also a world record setting track star who won a silver medal in 1984 Olympics and three gold and another silver in the 1988 Olympics.
- “We always had a democracy in this house”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, while they are in an argument and Lorelai asserts authority.
explanation: democracy is a form of government in which people have authority to deliberate and decide legislation or to choose governing officials to do so. Here, Lorelai is saying that they had a democracy in that she never asserted her ‘mum’ card and that anything that happened in the house was agreed by both of them.
- “Oh, God, I killed a Viking”
Said by Sookie, to Lorelai, after Sookie breaks her stove.
explanation: Viking Range Corporation is a private company that manufactures high-end professional kitchen appliances.
- >“You’re not gonna give me the Mommie Dearest treatment forever, are ya?”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, when Rory turns up to the Inn clearly annoyed at her mother.
explanation: Mommie Dearest a 1978 memoir written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford. It discusses the author’s childhood and being raised by an alcoholic mother who she judged unfit to raise children. It was a very controversial book not only because it discussed child abuse and child trafficking but because some family and friends called the book fiction while others confirmed it. It was later turned into a 1981 film of the same name.
- “So, do we go in or do we just stand here reenacting ‘The Little Match Girl’?”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai, as they stand outside Emily and Richards front door not making an effort to enter the house, ring the doorbell etc.
explanation: The little match girl is an 1845 short literary fairy tale by Danish Poet Hans Christian Andersen. The story in general is about a dying child’s dreams and hope and has been adapted to various media. The reason that Rory makes this reference here seems to be that that the girl, cold and barefoot, tries to sell matches in the street (Rory and Lorelai can be seen in coats and with hot coffee – assumingly cold). Or perhaps it is because the girl in the story is afraid to go home in fear her father will beat her (similarly to how Lorelai is afraid to go home to her parents’ house).
- “I need you to be civil. At least through dinner and then on the way home you can pull a Menendez”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, as a response to point 29 and in the same setting.
explanation: The Menendez brothers were convicted of killing their parents.
- “Is that a collector’s cup or can I throw it away for you?”
Said by Emily, to Lorelai, as Lorelai holds a cup of coffee.
explanation: a collector is a person who collects things of a specific type, for example: cups. Many companies or organisations will release merchandise that you have to collect multiple things of before you have the full collection.
- “We’re thinking of having her studied at M.I.T”
Said by Lorelai, to Richard, when Richard expresses that Rory (her daughter) is tall.
explanation: M.I.T stands for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which is a private research university with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological research.
- “Well, at least you have your new slogan”
Said by Lorelai, to Richard, when he is expressing that ‘people die, we pay. people crash cars, we pay. People lose a foot, we pay.’
explanation: a slogan is a short and striking or memorable phase used in advertising. Often they use repetition and short sentences – much like what Richard says.
- Richard: “And how are things at the motel?”
Lorelai: “The inn? They’re great.”
Emily: “Lorelai’s the executive manager now”
Said by the above, to each other as they are sat around the table making conversation.
explanation: a motel is a roadside hotel; in comparison an inn tends to be a pub in the country. An inn is a lot more prestigious than a motel. An executive manager is responsible for overseeing operations and activities of a department, building or company.
- “I’m gonna get a Coke. Or a knife.”
Said by Lorelai, to the table when her dad says that Rory gets her brains from her dad.
explanation: Coke is a carbonated soft drink sold in more than 200 countries.
- “I stopped being a child the minute the strip turned pink”
Said by Lorelai, to her mother, discussing how Lorelai got pregnant at 16.
explanation: Lorelai is referring to how a pregnancy test turns pink if the person who took the test is pregnant.
- “I think the deli spread at my funeral will be the last one”
Said by Lorelai, to Rory, when she asks how many dinners at Emily and Richards house they need to go to before they are off the hook.
explanation: a deli spread is a buffet of cold cuts and other food. A deli spread is often served at funerals, Lorelai claiming that she will be in debt to her parents till her death.
- “I had a flagellation to go to”
Said by Lorelai, to Luke, when Luke expresses that she looks nice.
explanation: a flagellation is a ‘flogging or beating, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification’
- “Oh, that is so Nick at Night”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai, when Lorelai asks if Rory’s crush is dreamy.
explanation: Nick at Night (or, Nite) is an American nighttime programming block that broadcasts over the channel space of Nickelodeon, with a target audience of young adults. Notably, it shows old television programs – as dreamy is typically 1940s teen slang this suggests why Rory associates the word with Nick at Night.
- “No mum, he’s a mime”
Said by Rory, to Lorelai, when Lorelai asks if Rory’s crush talks.
explanation: a mime is a theatrical technique showing action, character and emotion without words – using only gesture, expression and movements.