DEAN: I’m not great in Math.
LORELAI: Yeah, except who is really? You know, except mathematicians, or the blackjack dealers, or I guess Stephen Hawking doesn’t suck, but you know…
Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) was an English physicist, cosmologist, author, director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. Apart from his ground-breaking work in cosmology and quantum physics, he was the author of several popular science books – his 1988 book A Brief History of Time was on the best-seller lists for almost a year.
Not only the possessor of a brilliant mind and a noted wit, Stephen Hawking became a globally recognised pop culture icon, and the world’s best known living scientist. It is an incredible understatement for Lorelai to say that he “didn’t suck” at mathematics.
LORELAI: Uh, uh, well, pens are very nice, but I just bet there is a fabulous fancy dessert just sitting out there in that kitchen of yours.
EMILY: As a matter of fact there is. Twinkies.
EMILY: Well, Rory told me that was her favorite dessert.
Twinkie is a brand of snack cake formerly owned and made by Hostess Brand. First invented in 1930, they were conceived as a sponge cake filled with banana cream; when bananas were rationed during World War II, the company switched to vanilla cream, and it proved so popular that it remained the predominant flavour.
Emily’s cook Antonia makes her own Twinkies to reproduce Rory’s favourite dessert – of course Emily could never just buy a box of Twinkies. Home made Twinkies are more difficult to make than Beefaroni, but well within the range of a competent home cook. A professional like Antonia would have no problem, but oddly enough doesn’t make them ahead of time, so the Gilmore girls never get to try them.
Emily supplying Rory with her favourite foods, even though her choices must have made her grandmother shudder, is a callback to when Emily served Lorelai and Rory pudding, one of their favourite desserts. Lorelai was so impressed by Emily’s effort that she must have thought she’d try it again.
Emily gives Rory a luxury pen in its own case as a congratulatory present for doing so well at school. It’s possible that this is the $200 Montblanc pen that Emily wanted to give Rory for her sixteenth birthday, and is probably an acknowledgement of Rory’s talent as a writer.
RORY: Grandma, I can’t believe you found the recipe for Beefaroni.
EMILY: It wasn’t easy. Antonia thought I’d gone insane.
Beefaroni was earlier mentioned as a food Rory liked, and now we discover it is actually her favourite meal, requested for her special dinner.
Because home made Beefaroni is basically just macaroni, beef mince, tomato puree, and cheese, even a very average home cook could easily make up their own recipe for it. Non-cooking Rory is amazed to discover that homemade Beefaroni even exists, while equally non-domestic Emily apparently had great trouble finding a recipe.
If Antonia the cook is from Europe, and most especially from Italy, no wonder she thought Emily had gone insane with her request. She had probably never even heard of Beefaroni before.
Emily said the “secret” to Beefaroni isn’t beef. She may have got Antonia to reproduce Beefaroni based on the list of ingredients on a can, which involves all sorts of things that a regular home recipe would omit, including textured soy protein, caramel, yeast, ammonium chloride, citric acid, and the like.
Lorelai and Rory seem to assume she means the Beefaroni is made from some kind of mystery meat, and quickly stop eating. We never discover exactly what Emily means.
LORELAI: Uh, well, I’ll have a white wine and Dean’ll have a beer.
LORELAI: Corona, right?
DEAN: No, I don’t want a beer!
Corona Extra is a brand of Mexican pale lager produced by Cervecerio Modelo, first made in 1925. It is the top-selling imported beer in the United States.
All three Gilmore females take a slightly malicious pleasure in torturing Dean by pretending that he wants to drink beer. It’s a callback to the night of Rory’s winter formal, when Emily questioned Lorelai about Dean, including asking if he drank.
You can’t help feeling there’s a bit of payback for accidentally keeping Rory out late on the night of the dance, which led to an almighty family row. You can see Rory as either joining in with it, or trying to defuse the situation with humour.
EMILY: Richard, don’t you dare get on that phone. They’ll be here any second.
RICHARD: I’m not getting on the phone. I’m going to give Rory that first edition of Mencken’s Chrestomathy.
Mencken’s Chrestomathy was earlier discussed as a book that Richard called Rory about after they first bonded at Richard’s country club. A first edition is difficult to find and would most likely cost more than $100 today.
The special family dinner may be Friday June 1, meaning that the school year just finished for Rory, and they are celebrating the end of her first year at Chilton, and the success she attained during it.
While Dean is changing the water bottle for Lorelai on the back porch, Rory comes out to talk to him. (Apparently the Gilmores always drink bottled water – I don’t know if the Stars Hollow water supply is undrinkable, or if Lorelai and Rory prefer the taste of bottled water, or drink it for health reasons, or some other reason. Much of the Connecticut water supply has chromium-6 in it, the cancer-causing agent that featured in the 2000 biographical film Erin Brockovich, but the official statement is that it is at levels too low to be dangerous. The Gilmores may be playing it safe, especially as eleven other cancer-causing agents have been detected in the Connecticut water supply at levels above the legal limits).
Rory invites Dean to come with her to the special dinner her grandparents are giving in her honour. Emily told Rory she could “invite her friends” to the dinner, probably meaning her “friends” from Chilton (Emily doesn’t know that Rory is currently at outs with the few friends she has made at school). She almost certainly did not mean Rory to invite Dean, who she last saw taking Rory to a school dance, which ended in disaster when the pair of them fell asleep and didn’t get home until dawn.
Dean has the good sense to point out that Rory’s grandparents probably aren’t madly keen to see him again, but eventually accepts Rory’s invitation to please her (their relationship has only just re-kindled, and he probably doesn’t want to start off by saying no to her).
The scene is shot almost like a proposal – Dean is kneeling at Rory’s feet with the water bottle, while she holds out her hands in supplication, as if ready to receive a ring. It’s a reminder that Lorelai never got this traditional down-on-your-knees proposal from Max. If you look at how happy and excited Rory appears at the thought of taking Dean to her dinner, it’s in stark contrast to the sad, anxious face Lorelai has when we see her and Max getting engaged over the phone.
The show seems to be saying, “This is what you deserve, Lorelai: this is how happy you should be”.
This 1994 television movie directed by Oz Scott is the movie Lorelai and Rory watch with Dean. It has been previously mentioned as a biographical drama film in which Joan and Melissa Rivers played themselves, recreating key moments in their lives together.
Lorelai mentions some of these, such as the suicide of Melissa’s father, Edgar Rosenberg in 1987; Joan getting banned from The Tonight Show, where she first became famous, in 1986 (she didn’t return until 2014); and Joan forcing Melissa to get a nose job at eighteen which matched her mother’s nose job around 1986.
The film was panned as critics as strange, embarassing and self-indulgent, so Lorelai and Rory are not alone in mocking it. I would imagine they are watching a video of the movie which Lorelai taped off TV.
Rory has just got back with Dean, and he is immediately returned to the status quo of watching movies chosen by his girlfriend and her mother, and doing chores for Lorelai. I guess we’re meant to assume that just being permitted to love a Gilmore girl is so wonderful that you will allow yourself to be treated like a nonentity in sheer gratitude.
RORY: When is dinner ready?
LORELAI: Do I look like a timer?
RORY: I thought you might have set one.
LORELAI: Silly rabbit.
RORY: Timers are for kids.
Lorelai and Rory are referring to the advertising campaign for Trix – a corn-based, very sugary, artificially coloured and flavoured breakfast cereal manufactured by General Mills, and first brought out in 1954. The highly popular marketing campaign began in 1955, and shows a cartoon rabbit who tries to trick children into giving him their cereal. The tagline is, “Silly rabbit – Trix are for kids!”.
Whether the breakfast cereal had anything to do with Richard Gilmore’s pet name for his mother is unknown, but he would have been ten or eleven when the cereal came out, and part of the company’s target demographic.
RORY: Did you pick out your ring?
LORELAI: Yup, he’s gonna surprise me with it tomorrow.
RORY: Twenties Deco?
LORELAI: Supposedly ripped right off of Zelda Fitzgerald’s cold dead hand.
Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) was an American socialite, writer, artist, and the wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple became icons of the Jazz Age, and her husband dubbed Zelda “the first American flapper”.
The Fitzgeralds’ marriage deteriorated, and Zelda was admitted to psychiatric care, diagnosed as schizophrenic. She spent the rest of her life in and out of sanatoriums. Like Amy Sherman-Palladino, Zelda studied ballet as a child, and as an adult, became obsessed with it again to the detriment of her health.
Lorelai is joking about her engagement ring being Zelda Fitzgerald’s, just that it is from the 1920s. It is telling that she links her engagement ring with a woman who had a famously disastrous marriage.