Endless Love

LORELAI: Now, I know you would rather sit through Endless Love than ever be a part of this scene again.

Endless Love is a 1981 romantic drama, based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Scott Spencer. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, Tom Cruise makes his film debut, in a minor role.

It’s a drippy story of teenage love gone wrong, with high melodrama which includes arson, being committed to a psychiatric institution, and imprisonment. It received mixed reviews, with only Brooke Shields getting any praise, and the book’s author saying the screen adaptation had been “botched”. Despite this, the film was a box-office success. The film’s theme song, also called Endless Love, became a #1 hit for Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.

Boston

CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, Boston. Baked beans, cream pie, tea party, strangler.

Boston is the capital of, and largest city in, the state of Massachusetts. It was founded by Puritan colonists in 1630. It has a population of more than 600 000 people, is one of the economically most dominant cities in the world, and is known for its diversity of neighbourhoods. It’s about two and a half hours drive from where Stars Hollow would be, so Christopher is significantly closer to them now. It’s also 15 minutes drive from Harvard University ….

Note that Christopher has moved to Boston without letting Lorelai and Rory know, or even giving them the landline number for his new apartment. It seems he hasn’t spoken to them since Lorelai’s bachelorette party, with the excuse that he was giving Lorelai space after she broke her engagement. Which might be reasonable, except he has a daughter, and there’s no excuse for not phoning her. Once again, Rory is an afterthought in Christopher’s relationship with Lorelai, rather than the focal point she should be.

Christopher quickly rattles off a few associations for Boston:

Boston baked beans

Baked beans sweetened with molasses and flavoured with salt pork or bacon. It’s been a speciality of Boston since colonial times, and baked beans with frankfurters is a favourite dish. Boston is sometimes known as Beantown.

Boston cream pie

A sponge cake with custard or cream filling, glazed with chocolate. It’s said to have been created in 1881 at the Parker House Hotel in Boston by a French chef. It’s the official dessert of Massachusetts.

Boston Tea Party

A political protest by the an organisation called the Sons of Liberty in Boston on December 16 1773. It was in protest of the Tea Act, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by British parliament. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes as a violation of their rights, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Protesters destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, boarding the ships and throwing chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly, and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history.

Boston Strangler

The name given to the murderer of thirteen women in Boston in the early 1960s; most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments with no signs of forced entry. In 1967 a man named Albert DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler while serving life imprisonment for a series of rapes; he was found stabbed to death in prison in 1973. Although his confession revealed some details of the crimes unknown to the public, and DNA evidence has linked him with the Strangler’s final victim, doubts remain as to whether he committed all the Boston murders. George Nassar, the prison inmate DeSalvo reportedly confessed to, is the major suspect; he is currently serving life in prison for murder. Several films have been made about the case, most notably The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis.

Christopher’s glib associations for the city bring to mind the way Rory summed up Chicago to Dean as “Windy. Oprah”.

“… some mice, a dog, a pumpkin”

LORELAI: And uh, you’ll need shoes, hose, gloves, some mice, a dog, a pumpkin.

Lorelai is referencing Cinderella, previously discussed. Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a coach, and a dog and some mice into attendants so that she could go to the ball in style.

It’s interesting that the last time Lorelai compared Rory’s situation to Cinderella was for her sixteenth birthday party, organised by Emily. This is another formal, dressy occasion they are going to for Emily’s sake, where Rory will be primped and put on display for Hartford society. For both events, Lorelai did her best to help Rory, even though she didn’t fully approve.

Lorelai is casting herself in the role of the fairy godmother, who is going to help Rory transform into a fairy tale princess for one night.

Lily Tomlin/John Travolta Movie

LORELAI: I swear, there is nothing in the world my mother is better at than getting someone to agree to something that in any other universe, they would never ever consider … I am still convinced she had something to do with Lily Tomlin doing that movie with John Travolta.

Lorelai is referring to the 1978 romantic drama Moment by Moment, directed by Jane Wagner. It stars Lily Tomlin as a wealthy middle-aged Beverly Hills socialite, and John Travolta as a young drifter. He becomes infatuated with her, and they embark on a rocky May-December romance. The film was widely panned by both critics and audiences. It remains a camp classic to this day – exactly the sort of film Lorelai couldn’t resist watching.

“The drummer in Spinal Tap”

RORY: I went out onto the patio.
LORELAI: Ugh, Rory, that’s like accepting the position as the drummer in Spinal Tap.

Spinal Tap is a fictional English heavy metal band created by American comedians and musicians Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. They first appeared on a 1979 sketch comedy pilot called The TV Show, but are best known from the critically-acclaimed 1984 mockumentary film, This is Spinal Tap, considered one of the best films of the 1980s. The heavy metal fan and comedic Lorelai must surely love it.

Spinal Tap’s fictional history includes a succession of drummers, all of which have died in strange circumstances, such as a “bizarre gardening accident”, “choking on someone else’s vomit”, two suffering spontaneous combustion on stage, and one death a mystery police thought better to leave unsolved.

Lorelai’s saying that Rory was doomed the minute she went out on the patio.

Emily and Her Maids

SUNNY: Another new [maid], Emily?
EMILY: Yes. The last one only made it through one evening. Thoroughly nervous creature.
NATALIE SWOPE: What do you do to them, Em?
EMILY: Oh, the usual. Clean this, cook that, sacrifice a virgin on your way out.
SUNNY: [laughs] The things you say.

Emily’s friends are teasing her about her inability to keep any maid longer than a week (where does this everlasting supply of new staff come from, I wonder?). She is apparently well known in her circle for this, and Liesl seems to have quit after just one night of having to witness Richard and Emily fighting on the stairs … no wonder she was “thoroughly nervous”!

Emily jokes that she makes her maids sacrifice a virgin, a stock trope in films about Satan worship. She’s well aware that she’s considered a bit of a “devil” as an employer. Note that Emily’s friends enjoy her rather wicked sense of humour, a trait which she and Lorelai share.

Emily is careful to hide the fact that her fight with Richard is what caused the maid to quit. She is both too proud and too loyal to let her friends know that she is currently quite unhappy.

(We only find out the name of Emily’s friends from the credits).

“Incoming”

RORY: Mom.
LORELAI: Shh. Incoming.

“Incoming” is a stock phrase often used in film or television that is called out by one character to alert others to danger, commonly in battle scenes to mean something is about to fall on them. It originates from military usage.

Lorelai is telling to Rory to be quiet and stay out of the way, since they are witnessing a “battle” between Richard and Emily, and risk getting the middle of it.

Theatre References

The episode begins with a quick flurry of theatrical references at a Friday Night Dinner, suitable for one with the dramatic title, “Presenting Lorelai Gilmore” (as if Rory is the star of the show). We can tell straight away that this episode will be all about presentation, staging, and image – the face shown to the public, and how that contradicts the private, backstage life.

The Sound of Music

The new maid introduces herself as Liesl, which is the name of one of the von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Lorelai tells the maid that she is Brigitta, and Rory is Gretl, two of the other children (the others are Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, and Marta).

The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein., book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. Based on the 1949 memoir by Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, it is set in Austria just before it was annexed by the Nazis in 1938. Many of the details of the von Trapps’ real life were altered to make the the story more dramatic, and the names of all the children were changed.

The original Broadway production opened in 1959 with Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel in the lead roles. It won five Tony Awards, including best musical, and the first London production opened in 1961. A film version was made in 1965, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Lorelai compares her arguing parents with George and Martha, from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, previously discussed. In the play, George and Martha invite a young couple to their home, and then use their dramatically cruel arguments as a display for them. Lorelai is suggesting that she and Rory are in the role of the other couple.

The Lion King

After suggesting that her parents are providing them with “dinner theatre”, and wishing she had popcorn to enjoy with the show, Lorelai then likens Richard and Emily’s fight to “The Lion King without the puppet heads”. The climax of The Lion King contains a dramatic fight to the death between two lions.

The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 animated Disney film of the same name, with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Rogers Allers and Irene Mecchi. The musical features actors in animal costumes, as well as giant hollow puppets.

The Lion King made its debut in 1997, first opening in Minneapolis before moving to Broadway. It is still running after more than 9000 performances, is the third longest running musical in history, and has grossed more than $1 billion, making it the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. The show opened in the West End in 1999, and is still running after more than 7500 performances. The musical has made than $8.1 billion overall.

The Lion King musical and the film are the top-earning titles in box-office for both stage and screen.

Terrence McNally

After cheekily giving her mother a “Brava! Encore!”, Lorelai says, “Does Terrence McNally know about you two?”.

Terrence McNally (1938-2020) was a multi award-winning American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. Known as “the bard of American theatre”, McNally won five Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996, he won Lifetime Achievement awards from the Dramatists Guild and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers. In 2018 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest recognition of artistic merit in the US. His career spanned six decades, and he was vice-president of the Council of the Dramatists Guild.

At one time, he was the partner of Edward Albee, who wrote Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Nick and Nora, Sid and Nancy

LORELAI: Rory, this was a bad one, okay? This was not Nick and Nora, this was Sid and Nancy, and I’m not going in there.

Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are the protagonists of the 1934 comedy-mystery film, The Thin Man, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. They’re a wealthy married couple who enjoy drinking and flirtatious banter, with plenty of free time to solve mysteries. It was the first time in a Hollywood film a married couple were shown still able to enjoy sex, romance, and adventure together. The film was such a success, it spawned five sequels, and in the 1950s was made into a television series starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk.

Sid and Nancy is a 1986 British biographical film, starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb in the title roles. The film examines the destructive drug-fuelled relationship between Sid Vicious, the bassist for British punk band The Sex Pistols, and his American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, which ended in tragedy when Sid stabbed Nancy, either accidentally or deliberately.

Lorelai is saying that she and Luke weren’t just having their usual comic flirting, but actually went for each other with a genuine intention to hurt each other emotionally. She clearly sees herself as the main victim in their interchange, and this is the origin of this episode’s title.