Insurance

RORY: So, Grandpa, how’s the insurance biz?
RICHARD: Oh, people die, we pay. People crash cars, we pay. People lose a foot, we pay.

Richard Gilmore was written as having a job in the insurance industry because Hartford is known as “The Insurance Capital of the World”. Many insurance companies are based in the city or have major branches there.

M.I.T.

RICHARD: Lorelai, your daughter’s tall.
LORELAI: Oh, I know. It’s freakish. We’re thinking of having her studied at M.I.T.

M.I.T. is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a prestigious research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The long gaps between visits to her grandparents – which are apparently at Christmas and Easter – mean that Richard is surprised to discover Rory’s height. She must have had a growth spurt since they last saw her the previous April.

Menéndez 

LORELAI: Okay, 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 Menéndez.  Deal?

Lyle and Erik Menéndez (born 1968 and 1970) are two American brothers who were convicted in a high-profile criminal trial in 1994 for the 1989 murder of their wealthy parents José and Kitty, shooting them at their Beverley Hills mansion. The Menéndez brothers claimed that that they had killed their parents after years of sexual and physical abuse, but their defense was ruled inadmissible as evidence by the court. The lavish lifestyles they led after their parents’ deaths made it seem as if the motive was mainly financial. Both men are currently serving life sentences without parole at separate prisons.

The Little Match Girl

RORY: So, do we go in [to her grandparents’ house] or do we just stand here re-enacting The Little Match Girl?

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson, first published in 1845, and frequently included in books of Anderson’s fairy tales. The story is about a poor young girl, a seller of match sticks, freezing in the street on New Year’s Eve. As she huddles against the wall of a house, she sees visions of food, warmth and joy in the the flames of the matches she lights for comfort.

Like the little match girl, Rory has been excluded from the wealth and luxury that exists in the house she stands near. It is intriguing that the story’s ending involves a reunion with the little girl’s grandmother, who loved her deeply – a hint of the affection from the older generation that is awaiting Rory inside the house.

Mommie Dearest

LORELAI: Aw, you’re not gonna give me the Mommie Dearest treatment forever, are ya?

Mommie Dearest is a best-selling 1978 memoir by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of Hollywood screen star Joan Crawford. In the book, Christina details the years of alleged physical and psychological abuse she received at the hands of her alcoholic and controlling mother Joan. When the book came out, even people who knew the Crawfords were divided on the accuracy of the book. Some friends of Joan said that Christina exaggerated details of her life, and Christina’s two younger sisters said her stories were untrue. On the other hand, other friends and colleagues of Joan’s said they witnessed many of the incidents in the book first-hand, Joan’s private secretary confirmed Christina’s stories of abuse, and Christina’s brother staunchly defended her. The book helped to raise awareness of child abuse.

The book was made into a film in 1981, directed by Frank Perry and with Faye Dunaway in the role of Joan Crawford. It was panned by critics, but a commercial success. Intended to be a serious biographical drama, Mommie Dearest became a cult classic due to its unintentional campy humour and over the top acting. It seems like the kind of film Lorelai and Rory would have loved to mock.

There are enough references to Rory writing a book about Lorelai one day during the show to suggest that it was a long-standing joke between them, perhaps initially triggered by either reading or watching Mommie Dearest.

“We never fight”

Lorelai

SOOKIE: It was a fight. Mothers and daughters fight.
LORELAI: No, we don’t fight. We never fight.

During the course of the show, Lorelai and Rory had their fair share of fights and arguments, during which the normally meek Rory could be shockingly rude and hurtful to her mother. If Lorelai is to be believed, they never had a single fight until Rory was a few weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday, which would mean that they lived in harmony until Rory began gaining some independence for herself. It’s telling that Rory forming an identity for herself apart from Lorelai is the beginning of their various quarrels.

Of course, Lorelai may be just conveniently forgetting all the fights they had before this one.

Viking

SOOKIE: Oh, God, I killed a Viking. Oh, you should fire me, or make me pay the cost of a new stove out of my paycheck.
LORELAI: Well, whatever you want.
SOOKIE: I can’t afford a new stove! Those things are expensive.

Viking make premium cooking appliances, including gas stoves and ovens. A standard Viking stove will set you back around $15 000 today, so Sookie is not kidding that she can’t afford to replace the one she damaged out of her own funds.

I Try

This song by Macy Gray plays while Lorelai and Rory are fighting about her refusal to attend Chilton, with Rory listening to it in her bedroom while Lorelai has it on in the living room. The top-selling single from Macy Gray’s debut album, and her best-selling single to date, it went to #5 in the US and won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This is a rare example of the Gilmore girls enjoying Top 40 music, which was usually treated disdainfully by the show.

Flo-Jo

[Rory starts walking quickly down the street, and Lorelai follows her.]
LORELAI: Oh, you’re gonna have to walk faster than that. You’re gonna have to turn into friggin’ Flo-Jo to get away from me.

Flo-Jo was the name given by the press to American track and field athlete Florence Griffith Joyner (1959-1998), who won gold and silver medals for running at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. She is considered to be the fastest woman of all time.