JACKSON: I have a cousin who owns a Xerox company that specializes in taking pictures and making them into things – calendars, coffee mugs, collector plates, and pajamas.
Xerox is a corporation selling print and digital document products and series, headquartered in Connecticut, and incorporated in New York. They are best known for making photocopiers – so much so that Xerox is often used to mean any photocopier (like Kleenex and tissues), and “xerox” can be used as a verb, meaning “to photocopy”.
Jackson’s cousin owns a photocopying service which puts photos onto gift items. Jackson has a large family, and we learn a lot about them during the course of the show. We also learn that Jackson was on the wrestling team when he was in high school.
In 2001, the PSAT was split into three sections, not two: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading, and the maxiumum score in each section was 80.
Rory seems to have taken the pre-1997 PSAT, which only had two sections, Math and Verbal, and had a maximum score of 800 in each section. No doubt the writer (Linda Loiselle Guzik) based it on her memories of taking the PSAT in high school, not the PSAT then in use.
Rory’s scores are extremely good in both categories, putting her in the top 1%, and making her a virtual certainty as a Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. Somehow she never seemed to receive a Merit Scholarship to help her pay for her college education, and we never hear of it as a possibility.
While Lorelai is doing her homework for business school in the diner, Rory comes in, clutching her PSAT results. It’s four-thirty, but somehow Rory is already back from school, which gets out at 4.05 pm and is forty minutes away, gone home to get their mail, and walked to the diner to meet her mother, all within twenty-five minutes. But let’s ignore yet another time zone issue.
The SAT is a standardised test widely used for college admissions in the US, in use since 1926. Originally the Scholastic Aptitude Test, its name has changed several times, and by now it isn’t an acronym of anything – everyone just knows that SAT means the test to get into college.
The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT, which high school students take in early to mid-October – Rory probably took hers in the period between Presenting Lorelai Gilmore and Like Mother Like Daughter.
Taking the PSAT is said to improve your scores when taking the SAT, and furthermore, the top scorers are rewarded with scholarships, so they are considered to be very important.
Results of the PSAT are usually mailed out perhaps six to eight weeks after the taking the test, so in the real world, Rory would have already had her results by late January.
DEAN: So, did you and Paris actually kiss or was that like a stage thing? RORY: A lady never kisses and tells.
Very clever, because Rory is not telling Dean about her kiss with Tristan. (A slight callback to Kiss and Tell, the episode where Rory and Dean first kiss, and everyone knows about it).
It was quite obvious that Paris and Rory didn’t kiss, Paris didn’t even pretend to kiss Rory. I’m actually not convinced they could have got a good mark for the project. Two members of their group dropped out at the last minute, they didn’t offer a unique perspective on the play, Paris as Romeo sounds irritated more than anything else, and there’s no tragically romantic kiss. As it was fifty percent of their grade, that doesn’t sound good for their overall result.
TRISTAN: The police are letting our parents handle it, and in my case that means military school in North Carolina.
A meta comment. Chad Michael Murray, who played Tristan, left the show in order to begin filming the teen drama One Tree Hill (2003-2012), shown on the same channel as Gilmore Girls (The WB); Murray had the lead role of Lucas Scott. One Tree Hill is set in the fictional town of Tree Hill in North Carolina, and mostly filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Amy Sherman-Palladino apparently planned for Tristan to become Rory’s boyfriend in high school/college and her “Christopher”, which, because Chad Michael Murray went to another show, was a role filled by the character of Logan Huntzberger instead. In this farewell episode, you can see the faint beginnings of the tenderness between Rory and Tristan which would have blossomed into eventual love. Anyone wishing to see what would have happened if Logan had been Tristan instead must turn to fanfiction.
In real life, there is only one one military school in North Carolina, and it is Oak Ridge Military Academy, so presumably that’s where Tristan is headed. It was originally founded in 1850, and was one of the first military schools to become co-educational, in 1972. It apparently had a reputation at one time of taking troubled youth, which it is working to overcome.
If Tristan turned up to Chilton in order to say he was leaving for military school, couldn’t he also have stayed to do the scene with them? Does everyone transfer schools on a Sunday night in this universe? (Maybe because they’re boarding schools?).
With Tristan out of the picture, the love triangle between Rory, Dean, and Tristan comes to an end, to make way for a new love triangle, which becomes clear in the very next episode.
RORY: What about Brad? PARIS: Brad transferred schools.
An explanation for why we don’t see Brad again for a while – Paris terrorised him until he had to move to a different school on the day their Shakespeare project was due. How he managed to transfer schools on a weekend, I don’t know. Even if he was starting at a new school on Monday, having secretly applied to another school as soon as he met Paris, couldn’t he at least have done the scene with them on the Sunday so they didn’t fail?
RORY: So does that mean that you might reconsider my suspension? HEADMASTER: You’re an excellent student. You deserve to go to Harvard. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that.
Utterly, utterly ludicrous. No headmaster would ever tell a student they deserve to go to Harvard, especially one who’d just been caught in his office in the middle of the night. There are many excellent students, Harvard is very difficult to get in to, they won’t all make it. Yet in only her second year at Chilton, Rory is more or less told it is her right to be there.
The writers of Gilmore Girls never seemed to understand how schools and colleges actually operate. Considering how much of the show revolved around Rory’s secondary and tertiary education, it seems like something they maybe should have brushed up on.
LORELAI: I’m gonna join the Booster Club, mmkay? The Booster Club, I’m going to boost. EMILY: Well, the Boosters are a very fine organization.
Booster clubs are common at high schools and universities in the US. They are run by parents as fundraising efforts to boost the school’s coffers, especially to pay for supplies, equipment or trips that the students need.
Chilton seems unusual in only having one booster club. Many schools have two – an academic booster club, and an athletics booster club.
PARIS: No, they’re the Puffs, the most influential sorority at Chilton. RORY: Chilton has sororities?
PARIS: Only ten worth mentioning, and the Puffs, they have been number one for at least the last fifty years.
A sorority is a women’s social organisation at a college or university, the female equivalent of a fraternity. They were once common in US high schools as well, but these days many schools ban them. However, they are still in existence, and some schools are willing to turn a blind eye to them while not recognising them officially.
We learn here that Chilton is the sort of school which tolerates this practice, and that it has at least ten major sororities! The Puffs have been the most powerful and exclusive of them since at least 1951.
The current Puffs seem to consist of Francine “Francie” Jarvis (President), Ivy, Dijur, Lily, Celine, Lana, Asia, Anna, and Lemon. The name Puffs could have been chosen in-universe because of powder puffs, suggesting a fashionable femininity, or even that they are delicious little morsels, as puffs are such a favourite food in Gilmore Girls. However, it suggests being filled with their own importance (“puffed up”, “puff piece”) and full of hot air.
There’s something insubstantial about the Puffs, as if a puff of wind could blow them away – remember that Rory even pretended a draft of air is what drove her to their table, taking her on a trip to another world just as weird and bizarre as Oz.