In my Top Ten Television Shows of 2006 one of the shows I selected was the CW’s Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls is not only one of my favorite shows of this year but it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. There are many reasons I like the show but just one of them is the references the show makes in their dialogue. Throughout each episode the various characters in Gilmore Girls will make reference to various pop culture references, historical figures, famous literature and popular music even though they must know not everyone is going to get the reference. But Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Pallidino believes that the audience can be as smart as you allow them to be. Ninety percent of television shows’ writing is really dumbed down and because of that most other television shows are crap. But the Gilmore Girls writers challenge the viewers to actually learn something. Of course it doesn’t do any good to hear the references unless you find out what they mean. That’s what I’m here for. Let me be your guide and teach you about the references made in Gilmore Girls. All of the references made in this article will be references from the pilot episode.
In one of the first scenes of this episode Lorelai is at Luke’s Diner when a guy walks up to her and starts to hit on her. This fellow mentions that he is traveling on his way to Hartford. Lorelai replies by saying that he is a regular Jack Kerouac. Jack Kerouac was an American writer. One of Kerouac’s best works was a book called On the Road. On the Road was a book that was largely autobiographical and recounted Kerouac’s roadtrip adventures. So I would assume that in the Gilmore Girls pilot Lorelai made the connection between this guy and Jack Kerouac because they were both on roadtrips.
Later at Luke’s diner Lorelai is sitting and drinking coffee because what would an episode of Gilmore Girls be without Lorelai drinking coffee? Rory enters and says she needs some lip gloss. Lorelai goes through her assortment of lip gloss which contains everything from vanilla flavored to toasted marshmallow. Rory tells Lorelai that she hasn’t seen this much makeup since Rupaul. Rupaul, of course, is a famous drag queen from the 90’s who appeared in many movies, television shows and even had a hit duet with Elton John. If being a drag queen didn’t make Rupaul stick out enough already then the amount of makeup he caked on his face would make him stand out even further. That is why Rory commented that Lorelai had as much makeup as Rupaul.
Rory has been trying real hard to get into a better school called Chilton. Finally the day has come where she has been accepted. At Chilton they have a school uniform that includes a plaid skirt. So Lorelai’s way of telling Rory she got into Chilton is to present her with a plaid skirt. Rory replies by saying “I’m going to be in a Britney Spears video?” Well you’d have to be living under a rock for the past 10 years to not know who Britney Spears is but I guess I will explain the reference anyway. In 1998 Britney Spears had her debut single called “Baby One More Time” and the video began playing on MTV. The music video took place in a school where Britney Spears and the others in the video were all dressed in Roman Catholic school girl outfits which of course included skirts much like the one Lorelai gives Rory which leads to her Britney Spears comment.
Chilton is a very expensive school and it turns out that Lorelai can not afford it on her own. Lorelai’s friend Sookie suggests that Lorelai ask to borrow money from her estranged parents. But Lorelai doesn’t get along with her parents and says that she’d rather reenact several chapters from a Steven King book than ask her parents for money. Steven King is a very popular and well known horror fiction writer. Steven King is responsible for such books as The Shining, The Stand, Cujo, The Green Mile and the series of Dark Tower books. So basically Lorelai is saying that she would rather live through several chapters of a horror story than have to ask her parents for money.
Rory is packing up books from her old school getting ready to move to Chilton when she drops some of her books. When she finally collects herself and stands up there is suddenly a boy, Dean, standing there. Rory makes a comment on how Dean startled her like Ruth Gordon. Of course Dean helps us out on this one by pointing out that Rory is talking about the movie Rosemary’s Baby. Rosemary’s Baby is about a woman named Rosemary and her husband who are planning on having the baby. One of their neighbors is played by Ruth Gordon. At one point in the movie Rosemary believes that her neighbors plan to steal her child and sacrifice it to Satan, so of course the sight of Ruth Gordon would startle her like Dean startled Rory.
Lorelai and Rory have arrived at the grandparents’ house but they are standing on the porch without knocking. It’s obviously very cold outside because they are both wearing jackets and Lorelai is drinking coffee. However they haven’t knocked to go inside because Lorelai is hesitant about seeing her parents. Rory asks Lorelai, “so do we go in or do we stand here reenacting the Little Match Girl?” The Little Match girl is a fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. The story takes place on New Year’s Eve and a little girl was out at night selling matches. Her family was very poor so she was cold and hungry and didn’t have hat or shoes to warm her. However she stayed out in the cold to try and sell matches because she was afraid if she went home without selling any that her father would beat her. Rory was comparing her and Lorelai to the Little Match Girl because they were standing outside starving and freezing rather than going inside where Lorelai might just get a beating, although a verbal one instead of a physical one.
Before going inside the grandparents’ house Lorelai makes a deal with Rory. She knows that Rory is mad at her but if Rory agrees to a truce during the dinner with the grandparents then Rory is free to “pull a Menendez” on the way home. The Menendez brothers, Joseph and Erik, were convicted in a high publicized trial on Court TV in 1993. The two brothers used a shotgun to murder their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez. So by telling Rory she could “pull a Menendez” Lorelai was granting Rory permission to kill her mother on the way home, just as long as they agreed to get along during dinner.
Rory sees her grandparents for the first time in a while and her grandfather Richard is fascinated that Rory is very tall. Richard tells Lorelai that Rory is tall and Lorelai tells Richard that she is planning on having Rory studied at MIT. MIT stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’m not sure that a 5’7″ girl would be any interest to them but they do have a strong emphasis on scientific research so that is the reason for Lorelai’s joke.