- Gilmore Girls -The 'Gilmore Girls' Pilot Is Full Of Pop Culture References — Did You Catch Them All?
Some say you've gotta keep up with the Joneses, but when it comes to the sleepy and quirky town of Stars Hollow, there's only two people you need to be concerned about keeping up with: the quick talking Gilmore girls.
Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are walking encyclopedias for pop culture. And as someone who prides herself on being a personalized glut of IMDb trivia knowledge, picking up every pop culture reference in Gilmore Girls was always very fun pastime of mine. And one that I am now employing here, in order for the world to see, discuss, and admire the whip-smart dialogue and humor of the Gilmore ladies.
So let's start where the Stars Hollow journey began in the first place: the pilot.
1. On the Road with Jack Kerouac
As Lorelai enjoys her daily cup of coffee at Luke's Diner, Joey the vagabond regales her with tales of his nomadic lifestyle.
Joey: Yeah, I’ve never been here before. Just, uh, passing through on my way to Hartford.
Lorelai: You’re a regular Jack Kerouac.
Author Jack Kerouac was known for his own travels across the U.S., as famously captured in his 1957 novel On the Road.
Rory meets up with her mom at Luke's and is in search of lip gloss. Lorelai offers up a wide selection.
Lorelai: I have vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and toasted marshmallow.
Rory: Anything in there not resembling a breakfast cereal?
Lorelai: Yes. It has no smell, but it changes colors with your mood.
Rory: God, RuPaul doesn't need this much makeup.
The legendary drag queen, performer, and host RuPaul has one eight Emmys for his work on RuPaul's Drag Race.
3. Macy Gray
Lorelai calls her daughter out on her crab apple attitude, which Rory attributes to losing her Macy Gray CD and desperately needing some coffee.
Macy Gray's debut album, On How Life Is, was released in 1999. As Gilmore Girls premiered in October of 2000, this is likely the album Rory was missing (and Lorelai ended up having in her bag). Macy Gray's song "I Try" is also featured in the pilot episode.
4. Officer Krupke
Lorelai asks Luke for another cup of coffee. But trust, it's not for her this time. It's for Rory. Luke, not believing his caffeine addict of a friend, tells her:
Luke: You're shameless.
Lorelai: Look, Officer Krupke. She's right at that table, right over there.
Officer Krupke is the beat cop in the stage and movie musical, West Side Story. He comes down hard on the gangs in the story, and the show even has a song dedicated to mocking his antics, "Gee, Officer Krupke."
Conscious of not "losing herself in the moment," Lane tells Rory that she has zero plans of filling her parents in on her music taste of "evil rock" or Eminem persuasion.
Rory: When are you going to let your parents know that you listen to the "evil rock" music? You’re an American teenager, for God’s sake.
Lane: 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.
There's no doubt Lane's parents would cower over the idea of rapper Eminem. Prior to the series premiere in October 2000, Eminem had released his album, The Marshall Mathers LP, in May of the same year.
6. Huckleberry Finn
Rory is in class at school, where the teacher recommends that "for those of you have not finished the final chapters of Huckleberry Finn, you may use the time to do so." And for "those of you have, you can start on your essay now. Whichever task you choose, do it silently."
While her peers pass a bottle of nail polish back and forth, they wonder what Rory is writing down so diligently. Is it a love letter? A diary entry? A slam book a la Mean Girls? Nope, it's the assignment.
Possibly familiar for all, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a staple in curricula for high school English classes across America.
7. Britney Spears
Lorelai breaks the news that Rory got into elite private school, Chilton. How does she do it? By handing Rory a present, which she opens and wonders: "I'm gonna be in a Britney Spears video?" as she holds up a plaid skirt. But actually, Rory, it's the Chilton school uniform.
Britney Spears' music video for "...Baby One More Time" memorably features the pop star in a schoolgirl's uniform.
8. Stephen King
Lorelai is trying to figure out how on earth she's going to pay for Rory to attend Chilton. Brainstorming on the patio, Sookie suggests that Lorelai maybe resort to asking her parents.
Sookie: Can I say one more thing? It's really your only option.
Lorelai: Sookie, there are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I'd reenact before I'd resort to that option.
As far as reenactment options for Lorelai go, the options are aplenty. Stephen King's novels run the gamut of horror, supernatural, suspense, mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy fare, but a particular few (Carrie, The Shining, It, The Green Mile, and Misery) stand out for the oft hyperbolic Lorelai.
9. Zsa Zsa Gabor
Sookie and Lorelai are celebrating Rory's acceptance to Chilton, and Rory kindly allows her mother to hem her skirt. Ever the chef and party planner, Sookie asks Lorelai...
Sookie: Where's your paté?
Lorelai: At Zsa Zsa Gabor's house?
Zsa Zsa Gabor was a renowned pageant queen (Miss Hungary 1936, thank you very much), actress, and socialite who would have had resplendent party platters at one of her own soirées.
10. Rosemary's Baby
Rory is cleaning out her locker and some trinkets from her moving box fall onto the floor. Who helps her pick them up? A knight in shining armor a.k.a., her first boyfriend, Dean. His sudden appearance out of nowhere frightens her though.
Rory: God! You're like Ruth Gordon just standing there with a tannis root. Make a noise.
Dean: Rosemary's Baby.
Dean: Well, that's a great movie. You've got good taste.
Dean is able to deduce Rory's witticism as referring to Ruth Gordon's portrayal of Minnie Castevet in Roman Polanski's 1968 horror film, Rosemary's Baby, which was based on Ira Levin's 1967 novel.
11. Oprah Winfrey
Dean informs Rory that his family just moved to Stars Hollow from Chicago, so she rattles off what she knows of the Illinois city.
Rory: Chicago. Windy. Oprah.
Dean: Yeah. Yeah, that's the place. I'm Dean.
Oprah Winfrey — human extraordinaire — used to broadcast The Oprah Winfrey Show out of Chicago.
The Gilmore women just had a rather icy dinner at Luke's when Rory tells Lorelai she doesn't want to go to Chilton anymore, after Lorelai has already asked her parents to help pay for school. They leave in a rush and happen upon Miss Patty, who says she's found a job for Rory's male friend (ahem, the reason she doesn't want to leave Stars Hollow High). Mortified, Rory speeds off, but Lorelai is not having any of her daughter's teenage angst over a boy.
Lorelai: You're gonna have to walk faster than that. You're gonna have to turn into friggin' Flo-Jo to get away from me.
Florence Griffith Joyner, Flo-Jo, was a record-setting American track and field athlete. She won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Sadly for Sookie, a dish she has made 100 times exploded on try 101 and ruined the stove at the inn.
Sookie: Oh, God, I killed a Viking, you should fire me or make me pay the cost of a new stove out of my paycheck.
No, a Viking is not a Nordic warrior in this context. Instead, Viking Range is an American appliance company selling high-end kitchenware, including stoves.
14. Mommie Dearest
Rory swings by the inn after work at her mother's request, but is giving her the cold brush-off.
Lorelai: You're not going to give me the Mommie Dearest treatment forever, are ya?
Mommie Dearest is a 1978 memoir penned by Christina Crawford, detailing the horrific upbringing and parenting she endured from her mother, screen actress Joan Crawford. The story was adapted into a 1981 film starring Faye Dunaway.
15. "The Little Match Girl"
Lorelai and Rory arrive for Friday Night Dinner at Emily and Richard's home. But they're evading ringing the doorbell, so Rory scoffs: "So, do we go in, or do we just stand here reenacting 'The Little Match Girl?'"
"The Little Match Girl" is an 1845 short story by Hans Christian Handersen detailing a dying girl's dreams before she freezes to death.
16. The Menendez Brothers
Lorelai needs Rory to pull it together before they walk into her parents' house for dinner.
Lorelai: OK, look, I know you and me are having a thing here, and I know you hate me, but I need you to be civil. At least through dinner, and then on the way home you can pull a Menendez. Deal?
Erik and Lyle Menendez murdered their parents in 1989, so Lorelai is hinting at Rory committing some potential matricide here.
17. Nick at Nite
Lorelai and Rory make up at where else but Luke's. Rory says she'll go to Chilton, but Lorelai still wants intel on the new guy in her life.
Lorelai: Is he dreamy?
Rory: That's so Nick at Nite.
You know it, you love it. Nick at Nite is Nickelodeon's nighttime programming that typically broadcasts from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. every evening. Typical Nick at Nite fare during this time would include The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, George Lopez, Full House, and The Nanny.