“Arcade game”

LORELAI: Oh no, it’s that arcade game where the mole keeps sticking his head out and you have to pound him as many times as you can with the mallet. You would be a master at that game. … They would erect a statue of you next to it with perfect hair and pearls and a big bronze mallet.

Lorelai is referring to Whac-a-Mole, a popular arcade game first introduced in the mid-1970s. A Whac-a-Mole machine is a cabinet with five holes, from which the moles pop up at random, while the player has to hit them with a large plastic mallet.

Lorelai says that Emily would be a master at Whac-a-Mole as she’s so good at continuing to “whack” at Lorelai, but in colloquial use when people refer to a situation being like Whac-a-Mole, they mean that it’s futile as the moles keep popping up annoyingly no matter how many times you hit them. Lorelai is unwittingly (?) providing a testament to her own resilience and cockiness in the face of Emily’s assaults.

“Game show with your name on it”

LORELAI: Mom, he’s not my type.
EMILY: Why not? Because I like him?
LORELAI: You know, I swear, I don’t know which one, but there is a game show out there with your name on it.

Lorelai is referring to the award-winning game show Jeopardy!, which was created by Merv Griffin and debuted in 1964; it is still in production. It is a quiz show where contestants are given general knowledge clues in the form of answers, while they have to offer the correct question to match it – very much like Lorelai and Emily’s responses to each other.

Miss Congeniality

LORELAI: Ah, this is why the Miss Congeniality act when Rory wanted to beg out of dinner.

The “Miss Congeniality” award is one given at many beauty pageants, including Miss Universe and Miss World, given to the contestant judged to be the friendliest and most welcoming.

Lorelai might have thought of this because of the 2000 action comedy movie Miss Congeniality, directed by Donald Petrie and starring Sandra Bullock in the title role. The film had come out the previous December, suggesting that Lorelai and Rory might have seen it during the winter.

“Connecticut Ken”

LORELAI: Is this a setup?
EMILY: What?
LORELAI: Uh, Connecticut Ken in there, is he my invited escort for the evening?

Ken is a toy doll introduced by Mattel in 1961 as a male counterpart to Barbie; he also has multiple fashion accessories. Barbie and Ken are promoted as a couple, although sometimes they just seem to be good friends – with the result that Ken is sometimes jokingly rumoured to be gay.

To call a man a “Ken Doll” is generally an insult. It might suggest he is handsome but shallow and boring, or that he exists only to serve as an escort or accessory to a woman. Lorelai is probably implying both these things by calling Chase “Connecticut Ken”.

Glenfiddich

RICHARD: Uh Chase, can I get you a drink?
CHASE: Scotch, neat.
RICHARD: Uh, Glenfiddich?
CHASE: Fine.

Glenfiddich is a single malt whisky made by William Grant & Sons in Scotland since 1886 in the glen (“valley”) of the River Fiddich, hence its name. It is the world’s best-selling single-malt whisky, and has won more awards than any other brand.

Richard looks extremely unhappy with the dismissive way Chase accepts a glass of Glenfiddich as if it is nothing.

DAR

RICHARD: Emily, I didn’t know we were having company for dinner.
EMILY: Oh well, it was just sort of a spur of the moment thing. Chase’s mother and I are in the DAR together and he just moved back to Hartford, and it just seemed like a nice idea.

DAR stands for Daughters of the American Revolution, an organisation for women who are directly descended from someone involved in the United States’ efforts towards independence, especially the Revolutionary War.

The DAR works to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism, with a motto of “God, Home, and Country”. It was founded in 1890 as a sister organisation to the Sons of the American Revolution, and was supported by First Lady Caroline Harrison, the wife of President Benjamin Harrison. It currently has around 180 000 members organised into about 300 chapters.

In real life the DAR is basically a genealogy-based service organisation which does worthy things like raise funds for historic buildings, give scholarships, conduct essay contests, volunteer to support veterans, participate in citizenship ceremonies, and hold exhibitions.

However, in the Gilmore Girls universe, the DAR is a highly exclusive women’s club whose wealthy members seem to spend most of their time having tea parties and looking down on others. I suspect this reflects more how the DAR might have been in the 1930s and ’40s – it now works very hard to promote diversity and tolerance.

In real life, the DAR has a chapter in both Hartford and West Hartford that Emily might have belonged to.

Leopold and Loeb

EMILY: He [Chase] was just telling me that he actually grew up right around the corner from here.
CHASE: … Stone house on the corner.
LORELAI: Oh, the one with the Dobermans.
CHASE: That’s right. Leopold and Loeb.

This refers to Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904-1971) and Richard Loeb (1905-1936), collectively known as Leopold and Loeb. They were two wealthy students at the University of Chicago in 1924, when they kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy named Robert “Bobby” Franks, who was a second-cousin of Loeb, and well-known to both the murderers.

Leopold and Loeb were of high intelligence, and committed the murder to demonstrate their intellectual superiority. They thought they would be able to commit the “perfect crime”, and that their intelligence meant that they could do as they like, even a thrill kill, and claim it as an experiment.

Arrested about a week later, they both confessed to the crime and were represented by the famous defence lawyer Clarence Darrow. The case became a media spectacle, and was billed as “the trial of the century”. Thanks to Darrow’s impassioned pleas, Leopold and Loeb escaped the death penalty and were given a sentence of life imprisonment instead.

Loeb was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1936, while Leopold became a model prisoner who made significant contributions to improving the conditions at Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois. He was released on parole in 1958, married, and moved to Puerto Rico, where he led a blameless life giving an enormous amount to the community in numerous ways – thus justifying Darrow’s defense that the death penalty would give them no chance to rehabilitate.

Chase’s parents obviously had a dark sense of humour when they named their pet Dobermans after two child killers.

Chase Bradford

EMILY: Oh, Lorelai, I’d like you to meet Chase Bradford.

Lorelai turns up for Friday Night Dinner without Rory (who’s out with Dean) to find that Emily has wasted no time in attempting to set her up with a former neighbour named Chase Bradford (Paul Cassell), who’s just moved back to Hartford.

It’s really very sudden, as the previous Friday it seems as if Richard and Emily might have tried to get Lorelai back with Christopher, Rory’s father. Lorelai received a marriage proposal from Christopher less than a week ago, which she turned down – I wonder if Emily pushed him into doing that?

Emily is desperate to find Lorelai a man who isn’t “that diner guy”: Lorelai’s recent admission to Emily that she might be interested in Luke appears to have made her extra determined to get Lorelai into a safe relationship. She’s picked out practically the first man to come along, and he’s extremely dull, and slightly creepy. Lorelai might sympathise with Lane, who also feels her mother is starting to lower her standards when choosing blind dates for her.

Chase Bradford’s suitably preppy name might have been inspired by Chase Bank, formerly Chase Manhattan, one of the largest banks in the US. His surname might be after William Bradford, one of the pilgrims from the Mayflower, who became Governor of the Plymouth Colony. He has numerous descendants, many of them wealthy and well-connected, so there might be a suggestion here that Chase is one of them.

“Me and Morrie”

EMILY: So are we having a nice chat?
LORELAI: Yeah, we’re having a great conversation, me and Morrie.

Lorelai is referring to the best-selling 1997 memoir Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. The memoir describes how Albom, a sports journalist in Detroit, reconnected with his terminally ill sociology professor from Brandeis University, Morrie Schwartz. Meeting at Morrie’s house in Boston each Tuesday, Morrie is able to keep teaching Mitch valuable lessons about living and dying.

On the Best Seller List for 205 weeks, Tuesdays with Morrie is one of the best-selling memoirs of all time, and was made into a highly-praised television movie in 1999 with Hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon as Mitch and Morrie. In the next season, Lorelai seems to indicate that she was thinking of the book though.

Lorelai humorously contrasts her awkward silence with her father with the meaningful conversations shared by Mitch and Morrie. It’s obviously even harder for Lorelai and Richard to communicate after their argument the previous week.