PARIS: You didn’t take one note. You resorting to the osmosis theory of learning?
RORY: Why do you care?
PARIS: I don’t, just making an observation.
RORY: Great, we’ll build a dome over you and jam a telescope in your head.
In science, osmosis is the movement of solvent molecules through semi-permeable membrane; it’s a vital process in biological systems, and is the primary means by which water is transported in and out of cells.
Social osmosis is the indirect infusion of social or cultural knowledge without direct knowledge – an example would be knowing all about the latest blockbuster movie, such as the plot, setting, all the characters and actors playing them, without ever actually watching the movie. Paris seems to be suggesting that this is how Rory is planning to learn about Henry James.
Rory’s retort is saying that if Paris is going to make observations, she can have a dome and a telescope – like an astronomical observatory.
MADELINE: Hey Paris. Louise hates you.
PARIS: You’ll thank me when you get into Sarah Lawrence.
LOUISE: Wanna bet?
Sarah Lawrence College is a private liberal arts college in the city of Yonkers, New York. It was founded in 1926 as a women’s college, but became co-educational in 1968. Sarah Lawrence is known for its highly individualised course of study modelled on the Oxford/Cambridge system of one-on-one tutoring, and places a high value on independent study. It also has a history of political activism and volunteering, and is considered to be one of the most progressive colleges when it comes to social causes. It is also one of the most expensive colleges to attend.
It is not clear from Paris’ statement whether Louise is hoping to get into Sarah Lawrence, or whether it’s where Paris thinks she should apply, in the same way she told Rory she should go to Brandeis. Louise’s reply suggests it’s not her preferred option, but she may just be cranky about coming to school on a weekend.
TRIX: Richard, how can you allow this girl to go to Harvard?!
RICHARD: Now, Trix –
TRIX: You’re a Yale man, your father was a Yale man!
Yale University is a private co-educational Ivy League university in New Haven, Connecticut. It was founded in 1701, making it the third-oldest university in the United States.
We learn here that attending Yale is something of a Gilmore family tradition, with both Richard and his father being Yale alumni. Later, Rory would follow in their footsteps and attend the same university.
(Incidentally, it seems even more implausible that ten generations of Paris’ family went to Harvard, while only two generations of Gilmores went to Yale).
TRIX: Now, let’s talk about your education. Where are you attending school?
RICHARD: Rory is in the top ten percent of her class.
Here we learn that Rory, who was struggling when she first began attending Chilton the previous semester, is now in the top 10% of her class after the midterm exams.
RORY: I mean, Harvard is hard to get into, and I don’t know why I even spend my time thinking about anything else.
LORELAI: Because you have a pulse, and you are not the president of the Audiovisual Club.
An Audiovisual Club was one in American high schools where children learned how to become proficient in using microphones, film, slide projectors, VCRs, and other audiovisual devices, often becoming assistants to library and teaching staff when they needed that equipment.
They’ve become more or less obsolete since the 1980s, or evolved into IT Clubs or Media Clubs, but the stereotype remains of an Audiovisual Club being made up of extremely geeky students who belong to the A.V. Club, often as a way of hiding from bullies. They feature in TV series set in the 1980s, such as Freaks and Geeks [pictured] and Stranger Things.
Lorelai is remembering back to her own school days in the 1980s. Rory is perhaps too diplomatic or too depressed to tell her mother that her school doesn’t have an A.V. Club.
STRAUB: Our son was bound for Princeton. Every Hayden male attended Princeton including myself, but it all stopped with Christopher. It’s a humiliation we’ve had to live with every day, all because you seduced him into ruining his life. She had that baby and ended his future.
Princeton University is a private Ivy League university which was founded in 1746, making it one of the oldest universities in the United States. It is located in Princeton, New Jersey.
We learn from Straub that several generations of his family have attended Princeton. He specifically says the males, as Princeton only became co-educational in 1969 – if Christopher had a sister, she might have gone to Princeton.
I’m pretty sure you can still go to Princeton if you have a child with your high school girlfriend, so Straub is clutching at straws in his efforts to blame Lorelai and Rory for Christopher not being accepted into Princeton (or any other university).
Straub doesn’t make Christopher face the consequences of his actions, and blames others for any failure in his life, which is one reason why Christopher is such a weak and unreliable person. It’s notable that Christopher privately tells Lorelai it isn’t her fault her didn’t go to Princeton, but doesn’t have the guts to defend her openly, and tell his father that.
RORY: Hey how’s it going?
LANE: Very well. I have discovered that in addition to my lameness in geometry I also will not become a biologist, French translator, or Civil War buff.
Apparently Lane didn’t get great results in her mid-term exams – at least not in Geometry, Biology, French, and American History. A reminder that Lane has a school life too with homework and exams, and that unlike Rory she isn’t an academic whiz-kid.
You can see that Lane has a sheet of music up, so she is apparently teaching herself to read music, as well as familiarising herself with multiple genres of popular music. This helps explain her lacklustre school results – she is bright, focused, and hard working, but is simply far more interested in music than school. If only her parents had sent her to a music school, she would have aced everything, but only Rory gets educational opportunities and a chance to shine at what she’s good at.