The Shakespeare Project

PROFESSOR ANDERSON: Believe it or not, Shakespeare probably never intended his plays to be read by students sitting at desks more concerned with getting As than with the fate of Macbeth. His plays were meant to be experienced, lived. So with that in mind, together with my third period Shakespeare, you’ll be split up into five groups and each group will assume responsibility for one act of Romeo and Juliet, which will be performed a week from Sunday. You will nominate the director, you will cast the scene, rehearse the scene, and interpret the scene in your own individual manner.

This is the main plot of this episode, revolving around the group project that Rory’s class is doing for English Literature (?). Her new teacher is Professor Anderson, according to the credits, so she no longer has Mr Medina, like at the start of this year. I’m not sure if he’s just conveniently faded out of the picture (like Mr Remmy did), or if Professor Anderson is teaching English instead.

Professor Anderson references Macbeth, previously discussed, a callback to it last being mentioned when Rory had to do a project outside class with Paris, Madeline and Louise. The project is focused on Romeo and Juliet, previously mentioned, a play which has become a touchstone for Gilmore Girls.

Mia is Ready to Sell

Lorelai finally gets the courage to tell Mia that she and Sookie have a dream of opening their own inn. Mia is very supportive, but also reveals that she receives many lucrative offers to buy the Independence, and the sooner they can strike out on their own, the better, as far as she is concerned.

Lorelai is dismayed to hear this, as buying the Dragonfly seems out of reach while Fran refuses to sell.

In this episode, Lorelai’s plans are upset by two independent-minded old ladies who own inns – one won’t sell her inn to Lorelai, while the other seems likely to sell her inn from under Lorelai.

Chalk Outline

When Rory and Lane walk past Doose’s Market, there is a chalk outline of a person’s body drawn on the pavement outside the store, marked off with police tape. A crowd has gathered, and Taylor is having a fit, being calmed down by a local policewoman.

What the police officer should have told him is that a chalk outline to show where somebody has died is a trope which mostly exists in film and television (first shown in a 1958 episode of Perry Mason). In real life, police don’t usually draw a chalk outline to mark the place where someone was killed. The trope goes back to the days when police did so – not for the public, but to give crime reporters something they could photograph without showing an actual dead person.

She could have at least told Taylor that, in universe, the police did not draw the chalk outline!

Fran and the Dragonfly

FRAN: But I can’t sell you the property … I just couldn’t. You know, I have no siblings and no children and in a way, that place is really the only family I have. I’m the last Weston left, so I plan to own it forever.

It turns out that the old Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast, which Lorelai and Sookie wish to buy, is owned by Fran Weston, who runs Weston’s Bakery (the bakery with the round cakes that Rory pointed out to Dean when they met, and the same Fran that Lorelai and Rory defrauded of free cake wedding cake samples).

Lorelai and Sookie are sure that sweet old Fran will be happy to sell them The Dragonfly without driving a hard bargain, but although Fran is thrilled at the idea of them starting their own inn, she refuses to sell. She is the last of the Westons, having no siblings or children, and the Dragonfly is the closest thing she has to a family. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, because she has left the property derelict, which isn’t a great way to treat your family. Surely giving it a new lease of life would be better for the Dragonfly? Maybe Lorelai should have just paid for all that cake she ate.

Lorelai and Sookie try to tactfully ask what happens to the property when Fran dies, but she doesn’t take any of their hints, and acts as if she is immortal, so that they reach a frustrating impasse. I feel as if Lorelai and Sookie should have at least made an offer and put it in writing – the temptation of cash might have eventually changed Fran’s mind.

Rory at Lunchtime

The episode ends with Rory back in the dining hall at Chilton, peacefully reading and listening to her Walkman. She hasn’t been made to socialise after all, and the headmaster has been forced to back down and realise that Gilmore girls have to follow their own rules.

Another girl asks if she can sit with Rory, and she takes her own book out and starts reading in silence. Rory smiles at this confirmation she is not the only person at Chilton who likes to read at lunchtime, and now she isn’t a weird loner any more. She has a lunch friend, just as Mrs Verdinas insisted she find.

According to the credits, the mysterious girl is named Lisa. Do not expect to ever see Lisa again, or hear her mentioned. Did she and Rory ever speak to each other and become real friends? Did they show each other the books they were reading? Did they have anything else in common? Why didn’t Rory notice Lisa before? Why wasn’t Headmaster Charleston worried about Lisa’s lack of social activities? These questions are never answered.

Monkey Habitat

FRANCIE: We talked. We find you fascinating.
IVY: Like the monkey habitat.
FRANCIE: So we’ve decided to extend an invite to you. You can eat here any time you like.

The invitation to Rory from the Puffs comes with a major put-down which likens her to a monkey at a zoo. Clever and amusing, but not quite human, not fully one of them. Even when the Puffs accept you, they don’t really accept you …

Saks

AVA: Aubrey here works at Saks.
AUBREY: Uh, used to work at Saks.

Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury department store chain which originated in Washington DC in 1827, and is now headquartered in New York. The closest store to Hartford is in Greenwich, Connecticut, about 90 minutes drive away [pictured].

Aubrey is quick to correct the assumption that she is still working after being married for a month, which would imply her husband couldn’t support her financially. Unlike Lorelai, the Booster Club mothers don’t have to work, underlining that it is much more of a sacrifice for Lorelai to participate.

“Everyone else in your family can pull their face off”

RORY: It’s just so weird that the one table I sit down at is home to the secret society.
LORELAI: I know. It’s like waking up one day and realising that everyone else in your family can pull their face off.

Lorelai references the 1989 horror film Society, directed by Brian Yuzna and starring Billy Warlock. The film is about a teenage boy who lives in a Beverly Hills mansion, but doesn’t trust his high society family. After a series of disturbing and gruesome events, it is revealed that the boy’s family and their high society friends are from a different species. They pull their faces off and begin melding together to begin feeding from a human.

The film was a success in Europe, but wasn’t released in the US until 1992. The film is considered a brilliant satire in the UK, but pretentious and obnoxious in the US. The ending is unforgettable, whichever your opinion, and it is now a cult classic.

Note the tagline of the film, a comment on the theme of this episode.

The Puffs, the #1 Chilton Sorority

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.

“L tattooed on her forehead”

LORELAI: And these fanatics that run your school, they’re the ones that write the letters to the fancy colleges saying things like, ‘Hey she’s keen, look at her’ or ‘Have you seen the L tattooed on her forehead, ’cause it sure is a big one.’

Lorelai is referring to the habit, very common in the 1990s, of satirically making an L shape with the fingers on either your own or another’s forehead to denote you or they were a “loser”. Lorelai imagines the L to be tattooed on Rory’s forehead as a mark of permanent loserdom. Loner and loser seem to become conflated extremely quickly in this episode.