Lorelai says that the scripts for The Donna Reed Show were written by a man, which Rory endorses. Although most of the writers on the show were male, there were female writers too, including Barbara Avedon (creator of Cagney & Lacey) [pictured], Helen Levitt, Erna Lazarus, Peggy Chantler Dick, Kay Lenard, Mathilde Ferro, Jacqueline Trotte, Sheila Lynch, and Janet Carlson.
Amusingly, That Damn Donna Reed was written by a man – Daniel Palladino. There may be a slight suggestion here that just because a man writes a script for female characters doesn’t automatically make it anti-woman or oppressive to them, just as a script by a woman isn’t necessarily a feminist text.
This is the television program that Lorelai and Rory watch with Dean, and is the basis for the episode’s title.
The Donna Reed Show is a sit-com starring Donna Reed as middle-class housewife Donna Stone. Carl Betz played opposite her as Donna’s paediatrician husband Alex, and Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen were their teenaged children, Mary and Jeff.
Although Lorelai and Rory consider the show hopelessly outdated and sexist, episodes occasionally examined issues such as women’s rights (not with any radical outcomes, it must be said). But Donna Stone was a more assertive mother than had previously been shown on television, and it was the first sitcom to focus on the mother as the central figure in a domestic comedy. It helped pave the way for shows such as Roseanne and even Gilmore Girls (both shows that Amy Sherman-Palladino worked on).
The Donna Reed Show was attacked by feminists in the 1970s as presenting an idealised view of domesticity, so Rory and Lorelai’s criticisms feel really behind the times. It’s strange that they are giving feminist opinions from a generation ago as if they are clever and new – maybe they really do watch too many old movies?
The Donna Reed Show originally aired from 1958-1966, and was one of the most popular programs of 1963-64. It was only cancelled when Donna Reed became tired of doing the show.
Reruns of The Donna Reed Show were shown on Nick at Nite from 1985 to 1994. It wasn’t on TV in 2001, and hadn’t yet been released on DVD, meaning that the only way Lorelai and Rory can be watching the show is because they taped it off TV ages ago and are still watching it on video at least seven years later. Despite their mocking of the show, they must really be huge fans! (Again, how a show that hadn’t been on TV in nearly a decade is a relevant target for their attacks is a puzzle).
Madeline tells Rory and Paris that she and Louise have been asked to a party “on the corner of Waverly and First” by Jess and Sean, the boys they picked up at the concert. This is apparently just around the corner from the concert venue.
Waverly Place is in Greenwich Village, not far from New York University, suggesting that Jess and Sean are students there. In real life, there is no point where Waverly Place crosses with First Avenue, although it does cross with Fifth and Sixth. It is very possibly a deliberate error.
Lorelai asks the three Hartford girls to join them at the concert that evening. They agree immediately, and apparently don’t need to ask their parents’ permission to attend a concert in another city with a woman they only just met, or don’t consider it necessary.
It seems that Paris, Madeline, and Louise never went home to Hartford, as they wear the same clothes to the concert as they did to visit Rory.The drive to New York from Stars Hollow would be just under two hours, and just over two hours to return to Hartford from New York, making this a long night for the girls – they wouldn’t get home until past 1 am the next day. Again, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for them or their families.
LOUISE: How long has it been [that Rory and Dean have been together]?
RORY: … About a month.
LOUISE: Oh, lifers.
It’s quite clearly been more than “about a month” since Rory and Dean got together. It’s been more than two months since they went to the school dance together, so Madeline and Louise must know it’s more than a month.
By Louise describing a couple in a one-month relationship as “lifers”, we can tell she’s never been in a relationship for more than a few weeks at most, and that she views (or affects to view) a long-term relationship in terms of a prison sentence.
After accidentally buying and wearing Luke’s ex-girlfriend’s sweater that he donated to the charity rummage sale, Lorelai learns from Sookie and Miss Patty that Luke had a “very serious girlfriend” called Rachel about five or six years ago (around 1995-1996), who broke his heart.
When Lorelai wonders how she could not have known about this relationship, or ever heard of Rachel before, the viewer can’t help but wonder too, as Lorelai has been in Stars Hollow since 1986.
Her friends explain that she was busy moving into her new house with her eleven year old daughter at the time, and that Rachel travelled a lot. As it doesn’t take that long to move into a new house, it makes you wonder how long this “very serious” partially long-distance relationship between Luke and Rachel lasted. Not very, by the sounds of it.
It’s a pretty lame explanation for why Lorelai’s never met or heard of Rachel before now, but at least tells us how long Lorelai and Rory have been in their home.
RORY: [on the phone] Yeah, you too. Bye. [hangs up] That was Lane.
LORELAI: Oh, and what’s the verdict?
RORY: She decided to be stupid and tell her mother the truth – that she wanted to go to a rock concert with us tonight in New York.
In the very last episode, Double Date, Lorelai said she could never lie to Mrs. Kim to help Lane disobey her, citing “the mom code”. Yet now she says that Lane was “stupid” to tell her mother the truth, suggesting she was quite prepared to lie to Mrs. Kim on Lane’s behalf.