Robert Benchley at The Algonquin

RORY: Fine, but we have a real problem here.
LORELAI: Oh, you think I don’t know that? You think I sit around all day swapping witticisms with Robert Benchley at The Algonquin? No! I am thinking and worrying and using the computer, and I hate using the computer!

Robert Benchley (1889-1945), a humorist best known as a newspaper columnist and film actor. He began writing for The Harvard Lampoon while at Harvard University, before writing for Vanity Fair, and most famously, The New Yorker, where his absurdist essays proved highly influential. He made several appearances in films, and his 1935 film How to Sleep, won an Academy Award in the Short Film category.

The Algonquin Hotel is a historic hotel in Manhattan, which first opened in 1902. It had a reputation for hosting a number of literary and theatrical celebrities, including The Algonquin Round Table (or as they called themselves, “the Vicious Circle”). This group of New York writers, critics, actors, and wits met for lunch each day at The Algonquin from 1919 to 1929, engaging in witticisms which were disseminated across the country through their newspaper columns.

Robert Benchley was one of its most prominent members, and Lorelai is probably referencing the writer and critic Dorothy Parker, previously discussed. Dorothy Parker was a close friend of Robert Benchley, and one of the founding members of The Algonquin Round Table.

[Picture shows a painting of Dorothy Parker at The Algonquin Round Table by Carl Purcell]

“I’ll think about it tomorrow – at Tara”

LORELAI: I won’t think about it tonight. I’ll think about it tomorrow – at Tara.

Lorelai slightly misquotes from the 1936 novel Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, previously mentioned. Set in the American South at the time of the Civil War and subsequent Reconstruction, the novel’s protagonist is a beautiful, wilful Southern belle named Katie Scarlett O’Hara who is willing to do anything to claw her way out of poverty and save her plantation, named Tara, even while her heart is breaking over her numerous relationship disasters. It takes her too long to discover that the scandalous Rhett Butler is the only man who ever truly loved her.

The full quote is: “I’ll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him [Rhett] back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” They are the last lines of the novel.

Gone with the Wind was a runaway success, a bestseller before the first reviews of it were even published. Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and it was turned into a box-office smash film in 1939, starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara (the film slightly alters the quote from the book). It is the second favourite book of American readers, only beaten by the Bible. It is considered controversial because of its derogatory depiction of African-Americans and romanticisation of white supremacists.

Scarlett O’Hara seems like a forerunner of Lorelai Gilmore – a beautiful, headstrong brunette with a powerful will to survive, and a tendency to mess up all her chances at romantic happiness. Lorelai wanted to give her house a name, like a Southern plantation, and is as deeply attached to it as Scarlett is to Tara. As in Gilmore Girls, blondes tend to be the antagonists in Gone with the Wind. One of the girls at Chilton even suggested to Rory that Lorelai was a Southern belle name. It’s not hard to imagine a teenaged Lorelai reading this novel and identifying with the feisty, rebellious Scarlett.

Silkwood

RORY: And then [Mrs Kim] chased me halfway down the street with the hose. It was like a scene from Silkwood.

Silkwood is a 1983 biographical drama film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, based on the book Who Killed Karen Silkwood? by Howard Kohn. Karen Silkwood was a nuclear power whistleblower and union activist who died in a car crash in 1974 while investigating unsafe practices at the plutonium plant where she worked. Although the film ends with her death, in real life a 1979 lawsuit ended with the jury awarding $10 million in damages to the Silkwood estate, with the company settling out of court for $1.38 million.

The film was a commercial and critical success, with Meryl Streep receiving praise for her performance, as well as supporting actors Kurt Russell and Cher. Silkwood was released on DVD in 1999, so Lorelai and Rory would have seen it within the last couple of years.

In the film, Karen Silkwood and her fellow workers become contaminated by radiation, which the nuclear plant officials try to blame on Silkwood. The decontamination process is brutal, ending with being blasted in the face with a hose – now known as a “Silkwood shower”. Rory compares her treatment from Mrs Kim with Karen Silkwood’s decontamination, as well as the suggestion that she is being unfairly blamed for the termite infestation.

Mrs Kim’s behaviour is, of course, comically wrong. Rory cannot “carry” termites to Mrs Kim’s store, and spraying someone or something with water won’t get rid of termites.

Termite Whisperers

[They ring the doorbell, Sookie answers]
SOOKIE: There they are, my little termite whisperers.

Sookie references the 1998 drama film The Horse Whisperer, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Nicholas Evans. The film is directed by Robert Redford, who also stars in the title role, and is about a “horse whisperer” who is able to train horses through kind, gentle methods.

The Horse Whisperer was a commercial success and well received. It led to anyone having a supposedly ability to handle a difficult creature, person, or situation as a “[whatever] whisperer”, just the way Sookie does. Even though Lorelai and Rory haven’t handled them well at all!

Note that the horse whisperer in the film is a horse trainer from Montana. This is so suspiciously like Bootsy’s claim in the previous episode that he spent a summer training horses in Montana that I think he either chose his vacation after watching the film, or simply made the story up, inspired by the film.

Nancy Drew

LOUISE: I just thought we really connected the other day in the supply closet.
MADELINE: Boys. A Nancy Drew mystery.

Nancy Drew, previously discussed, the heroine of an extremely popular and long-running series of mystery novels aimed at a young female readership.

Nancy Drew was a strong, independent super-girl who was rich, attractive, and multi-talented; perfectly groomed, she remained cool in a crisis, and was sweet and wholesome. She understood psychology, spoke French, painted pictures, was a skilled driver and horsewoman, and capable of running a motorboat. She could shoot, swim, row, was brilliant at golf and tennis, a gourmet cook, expert seamstress, good dancer, and naturally knew first aid.

A cultural icon, Nancy Drew has inspired of generations of girls and women, with Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Laura Bush, and Barbra Streisand among many who quote her as an early influence.

“What do you and Dean talk about?”

JESS: Hey, what do you and Dean talk about? … I mean, does he know Björk?
RORY: I’ve played him some stuff.
JESS: Hm. So you got a teacher-student thing going?

Rory completely throws Dean under the bus at this point. She could have said, “Dean is a fan of Nick Drake, he actually got me into Pink Moon. And he loves Liz Phair and The Sugarplastic”.

She doesn’t mention that Dean likes old movies, and that they originally bonded over Rosemary’s Baby when they met, or watched Willy Wonka on their first date. She doesn’t tell him that Dean recommended Hunter S. Thompson to her.

The fact that she makes no attempt to defend Dean’s intellect, or even to tell Jess to butt out of her relationship with her boyfriend, is extremely telling. She does tell Jess that, despite his scepticism, Dean is exactly her sort of guy, but it doesn’t sound very enthusiastic – especially considering Rory couldn’t think of one thing she and Dean talk about.

Dr Dolittle

LORELAI: Giddy up. [the sleigh starts moving] Uh! The horses heard me, I speak horse language! I’m Dr. Dolittle!

Dr Dolittle is the protagonist of the Dr Dolittle children’s book series by British author Hugh Lofting, a doctor who only treats animal patients, and is able to speak all their various languages. The first book was The Story of Dr Dolittle (1920), and it has several times been adapted into other media. The 1967 film version starred Rex Harrison, and most recently at this stage, Eddie Murphy had starred in Dr Dolittle (1998) and its sequel Dr Dolittle 2 (2001) – possibly one of the “disgusting cow” films that Rory mentions seeing that year.

This is the first mention we have of Lorelai liking horses, which we hear more of throughout the show.

The Joy-Less Luck Club

LORELAI: They’re here.
RORY: Who?
LORELAI: The Joy-less Luck Club.

Lorelai references the 1993 drama film, The Joy Luck Club, directed by Wayne Wang, and based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Amy Tan, who co-wrote the screenplay. The film is about a group of older Chinese-American women in San Francisco, all with adult daughters, who meet regularly to play mah-jong. The stories they tell each other reveals their hidden pasts, and how their family dynamics have been shaped by the interplay of Chinese and American culture.

The film was financially successful, and praised by critics for its diverse and nuanced portrayals of the experiences of Chinese-American women. It was only the second Hollywood film to have an all-Asian main cast; the first was Flower Drum Song, in 1961.

Washington Irving

SOOKIE: No! It tastes too twentieth century guys. It’s gotta shout Washington Irving, not Irving my accountant.

Washington Irving (1783-1859), American author most famous for his stories “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, both of which appear in his collection, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., previously mentioned as the source of the Bracebridge Dinner.

The Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel is in fact quite contemporary, and doesn’t shout Washington Irving either. Sookie may be too stressed to remember that she is actually living and cooking in the twenty-first century.