LORELAI: It’s going to be horrible. It is going to be a bad, depressing Lifetime movie and Nancy McKeon will be playing me. I am Jo.
Nancy McKeon (1966) is an actress best known for playing Jo Polniaczek on the sitcom The Facts of Life, a spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes which ran from 1979 to 1988, making it one of the longest-running sitcoms of the 1980s. The show was set at a private girl’s school, and Jo was an extremely intelligent but rebellious tomboy who rode a motorcycle to school and often got into trouble before graduating as class valedictorian. Jo must have been a role model for the ambitious yet wayward young Lorelai (another TV heroine with a motorcycle!).
Nancy McKeon appeared in television movies based on real life stories, as well Afterschool Special episodes with titles like, “Schoolboy Father”, and “Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom”. She starred in the 1989 domestic violence drama, A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, and the 1992 kidnapping drama, Baby Snatcher. These are the types of “bad depressing” movies Lorelai probably has in mind.
Nancy McKeon has only ever been in one Lifetime movie, and it aired in 2003, after this episode was broadcast. Called Comfort and Joy, it’s a quirky romantic Christmas film, and not depressing at all.