Deep-fried Mars Bar

MADELINE: So there’s only gonna be one seventy-fourth anniversary issue ever and we didn’t do anything special for it.

LOUISE: I think the cover was of a deep-fried Mars bar.

A deep-fried Mars Bar is one which has been battered then deep-fried in oil. The dish has been claimed as originating at a chip shop in Stonehaven, Scotland in 1992, although this has been disputed, with others saying it had been sold elsewhere in Scotland in the 1980s. It became a media sensation in the mid-1990s and through the early 2000s as a symbol of unhealthy eating.

The dish isn’t common in the US, and the American Mars Bar is not the same as the one sold in the UK. The Mars Bar sold everywhere else in the world is caramel and nougat coated with milk chocolate. The US version is nougat and almonds covered in milk chocolate. At some point which nobody seems able to identify, caramel got added in there, but the bar was discontinued in 2002. When it was brought back in 2016, it was the “original” recipe without caramel.

Presumably the Franklin was covering the deep-fried Mars Bar as part of the media interest in it.


MADELINE: But you guys already have some decent stuff planned out, right?

PARIS: Madeline – or may I call you Spicoli?

Paris references the 1982 coming-of-age comedy-drama Fast Times at Ridgemont High, directed by Amy Heckerling (in her directorial debut). The screenplay is by Cameron Crowe, based on his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story – Crowe went undercover at a high school in San Diego and wrote abut his experiences.

The ensemble cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Phoebe Cates, and Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli [pictured], a permanently stoned surfer – Paris is suggesting Madeline is out of touch with reality as if she is on drugs. The film also marks early appearances by several actors who later became stars, including Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker (the first two in their feature film debuts).

The film initially had modest commercial and critical success, but was a sleeper hit due to word of mouth, and over time became more popular through television broadcasts and home video releases. It is now regarded as a classic and iconic film, and one of the best comedies, as well as one of the greatest high school movies.

The soundtrack to the film peaked at #54 on the album charts and features the work of many quintessential 1980s rock artists, including Jackson Browne, The Go-Go’s, and Jimmy Buffett.

For Keeps

SHERRY: Well, then where’d you get your information on child raising? Your mom?

LORELAI: No, For Keeps. Uh, Molly Ringwald, Randall Bantikoff, really underrated little post-John Hughes flick. She went to the prom fat. I found it really inspirational.

For Keeps, a 1988 coming of age comedy drama directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Molly Ringwald and Randall Bantikoff as Darcy and Stan, two high school seniors who are in love. Darcy gets pregnant just before graduation and decides to keep the baby. It was Ringwald’s final teen movie, and is considered one of her most mature performances, especially in the scene where Darcy develops postpartum depression. (Like Rory, Darcy works on the school paper and plans to study journalism at college). The film was a box office success, and received mixed reviews, with the positive ones mostly for Ringwald’s performance.

As the film came out in January 1988, when Rory had already turned three, it’s hard to see how it could have “inspired” Lorelai during her pregnancy.

Note that this is another occasion when pregnancy and being “fat” are conflated, which is becoming a rather disturbing trend, and no surprise, this is another Daniel Palladino script.

Forty Days

This book is on Luke’s book shelf. Forty Days is a 1992 non-fiction book by Bob Simon, an award-winning veteran journalist for CBS News. The book describes the forty days he spent being imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqis after being captured, along with four of his crew, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

It’s not clear whether Luke or Jess is reading the book – but like Lorelai and Rory, there is a good chance that they share books anyway. If it’s Luke’s book, it shows that, like Jess, he has an interest in journalism. (It feels as if everyone is interested in journalism on Gilmore Girls!).

Christiane Amanpour’s Situation

RORY: Christiane Amanpour spends half of her life standing in foxholes in third world countries, and she has a husband and a kid. And she was on C-SPAN last week getting some award, so if she and her husband can make it work, we can.

DEAN: So we’ll have access to the CNN jet?

Christiane Amanpour, previously discussed as Rory’s idol. From 1998 to 2018 she was married to James Rubin (born 1960), former Assistant Secretary of State and spokesman for the US State Department during the Clinton administration, and was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton. Their son Darius Rubin was born in 2000, so aged two years old at this time. Because of Amanpour’s career, her husband James did spend a lot of time home alone with the baby, keeping in touch with his wife by telephone.

In real life, Amanpour received two awards in 2002. The Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism was presented to her at Harvard in March, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcast Journalism was presented to her at Washington State University in May. Neither of those were “last week” from Rory’s perspective, although it’s possible she only saw the broadcast of one of them on C-SPAN the week before.

Christiane Amanpour worked for CNN from 1983 to 2010, so throughout the run of Gilmore Girls. As chief foreign correspondent, she reported on crises from many of the world’s hotspots, and in 2002 had filed reports from the Gaza Strip, famously interviewing Yasser Arafat in his compound by phone.

[Picture shows Christiane Amanpour, her husband James, and son Darius in London, 2003]

The Brat Pack

EMILY: And now it’s the in thing for young Hollywood celebrities to go to universities. What do they call themselves, the Brat Pack?

LORELAI: About a hundred years ago.

The Brat Pack, a nickname given to a group of young actors who frequently appeared together in teen coming-of-age films in the 1980s. It was first mentioned in a 1985 New York magazine article, used to describe Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, and most of the cast of The Outsiders. Later on, the definition (somehow?) seems to have narrowed to refer to those actors who starred in The Breakfast Club and/or St Elmo’s Fire. But there is no set definition of who was in the Brat Pack and who wasn’t.

The label brought negative attention to the actors, who hated it, and they stopped socialising together. It certainly was not something they called themselves, but an unwanted label foisted upon them. The journalist who coined the expression later admitted he shouldn’t have done it.

The name “Brat Pack” was coined in imitation of the “Rat Pack”, an informal group of A-List show business friends in the 1940s and ’50s, centred on Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. It is important to note that the Rat Pack is what the group called themselves, the Brat Pack was a name created by the media.

A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays

Rory is holding this book when Lorelai comes home and they discuss Rory’s relationship with Dean.

A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays is by Mary McCarthy, who Rory seems to be a fan of. It is a selection of her essays spanning her career from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, and includes her theatre reviews and political writings, so it is another of Rory’s books on journalism. It was edited by A.O. Scott, and published in 2002. Mary McCarthy, like Dorothy Parker – another of Rory’s favourites – was known for her bitingly witty and malicious reviews. Later, Rory will emulate these literary heroines with her own cruel review.

Woodward, Bernstein, Harry Thomason

PARIS: [sleep talking in background] Woodward . . . Bernstein . . . Harry Thomason.
LORELAI: Is that Paris?

RORY: Yeah, she talks in her sleep . . . long in-depth arguments.

Paris references Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, previously mentioned, the journalists who broke the story of Richard Nixon and Watergate.

Harry Thomason (born 1940) [pictured], film and television director and producer, best known for the sitcom Designing Women (1986-1993). Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, are close friends with former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, the former Secretary of State, playing a major role in President Clinton’s election campaign. He produced a glowing biographical film called The Man From Hope, the centrepiece of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Thomason served as co-chairman of the 1992 Presidential Inauguration Committee.

It is not completely clear whether Paris is arguing with Woodward, Bernstein, and Thomason in her dreams, or if she is quoting them in support of her dream arguments. I think the second?

Connie Chung

LUKE: I’ll be home early, anything besides the Q-Tips?

LORELAI: Um, cotton balls, world peace, Connie Chung’s original face back.

Constance “Connie” Chung (born 1946), journalist who has been an anchor and reporter with many major news networks. In June 2002 she began hosting her own show on CNN, called Connie Chung Tonight. Although it had moderate ratings, it was cancelled the following year when the Iraq War broke out, and Chung was needed as a reporter.

Presumably Lorelai has been watching the show over the summer in her lonely hours, and dislikes the amount of cosmetic interventions Connie Chung has had done since she last noticed her. There were numerous references in the show to Lorelai not approving of cosmetic surgery – which in retrospect seem rather ironic after watching Lauren Graham in A Year in the Life.