This love song plays at the end of the pilot while Lorelai and Rory drink coffee together. With music by Lee Pockriss and lyrics by Bob Hilliard, it was first recorded by Anita Bryant in 1960.
The version used on Gilmore Girls was recorded by indie rock band Yo La Tengo for their 1997 album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. The song inspired the title of the 2002 compilation album Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls.
LORELAI (referring to Dean): Is he dreamy?
RORY: Oh, that’s so Nick at Nite.
Nick at Nite is the programming block that broadcasts every night on the Nickelodeon channel, appealing to a crossover audience of teens and adults. It is notable for showing reruns of old television programs, several of which are later revealed to be ones that Lorelai and Rory (the target demographic) watch regularly. This may be why Rory connects the 1940s teen slang “dreamy” with Nick at Nite: she may have heard it on old TV shows.
Rory orders chili fries to go with her coffee at Luke’s Diner. Chili fries are French fries covered in chili con carne sauce – a spicy stew usually consisting of chili, beef, tomato, and beans. Chili fries may be served with toppings such as cheese or sour cream.
LUKE: You look nice, too.
LORELAI: I had a flagellation to go to.
A flagellation is a severe whipping given as corporal punishment, usually to the point of bleeding, and often performed in public to increase the humiliation and provide a spectacle. Such punishments were common in the past, and although long abolished in Western nations as a legal punishment, are still routinely handed out by the justice system in other countries around the world.
The word has a specifically religious meaning in Christianity, with The Flagellation of Christ (pictured above) being the scourging administered to Jesus Christ prior to his crucifixion by the Romans – a standard pre-crucifixion punishment at the time.
RORY: How many meals is it gonna take ’til we’re off the hook?
LORELAI: I think the deli spread at my funeral will be the last one.
A deli spread is a buffet of cold cuts and other delicatessen foodstuffs. Presumably this is standard fare at American funerals (more correctly, the refreshments that are served after a funeral service). Lorelai is predicting gloomily that she will be obligated to her parents for the rest of her life.
LORELAI (on learning that Rory overheard her secret): Well, the best laid plans.
A paraphrase from Robert Burns’ Scottish poem, To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785. The original lines are The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft agley, commonly translated into English as The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The idiom means that the most carefully detailed plan can go wrong when put into practice.
LORELAI: I’m okay. I just . . . do I look shorter? ‘Cause I feel shorter.
RORY: Hey, how ’bout I buy you a cup of coffee?
LORELAI: Oh, yeah. You drive, though, okay, ’cause I don’t think my feet will reach the pedals.
In Connecticut, Rory would not be eligible to apply for her learner’s permit until she turned sixteen. This is still at least a month away, so it wouldn’t be legal for Rory to drive her mother home even under parental supervision.
LORELAI: You wanted to control me.
EMILY: You were still a child.
LORELAI: I stopped being a child the minute the strip turned pink, okay?
Lorelai implies that she discovered she was pregnant using a home pregnancy testing kit, the kind where the woman urinates on a stick and waits for the test to change colour, a strip which turns pink indicates a positive test. In fact, these sort of lateral flow tests didn’t become available until 1988, and weren’t widely available until the 1990s, while Lorelai got pregnant in 1984. Previous to this, home pregnancy testing kits were more like mini chemistry labs, where you mixed urine and the solution together to see if it changed colour.
Lorelai claims that she stopped being a child the minute she became pregnant. Getting pregnant doesn’t turn a girl into an adult, so Lorelai is wrong on that count. In fact, we can see during the show that becoming a mother at an early age stunted Lorelai’s emotional development so that her maturity remained at the level of a wayward teenage girl even into her thirties. This is the other side of the conflict between Emily and Lorelai, with neither of them being completely in the right or completely wrong, and with both of them over-dramatising their situations and claiming victim status.
By the way, Lorelai was very far from being rare as a teenage mother in Hartford. By the early 1990s, one quarter of all births in the city were to a teen mother. She was definitely an unusual teenage mother though.
EMILY: Your father would have put [Christopher] in the insurance business and you’d be living a lovely life right now.
LORELAI: He didn’t want to be in the insurance business and I am living a lovely life right now.
EMILY: That’s right, far away from us.
Stars Hollow is only half an hour from Hartford, is on a bus route to the city, Lorelai visits it at least twice a week to attend college, and Rory will be going to school just five minutes from their house. Nevertheless, Emily still sees it as being “far away” from them. That gives the viewer some idea of the control Emily would like to have over her daughter and granddaughter, and is a hint of one of the reasons for the conflict between Lorelai and her mother.
RICHARD: Speaking of which, Christopher called yesterday.
LORELAI: Speaking of which? How is that a speaking of which?
RICHARD: He’s doing very well in California. His internet start-up goes public next month. This could mean big things for him. [to Rory] Very talented man, your father.
The internet bubble of 1997-2001, also known as the dot-com boom, was a period of excessive speculation in internet-based services and businesses services. During this time there were huge numbers of internet startup companies, some providing internet access, others using the internet to provide services. Most of this startup activity was located in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area of San Francisco in California – nicknamed thus for its high concentration of tech-based companies. By their nature high-risk ventures, start-up companies have a high rate of failure.