Directions to Hartford

LUKE: I was giving her directions for the quickest way back to Hartford. It was very romantic. I said you take a right at Deerfield, and you catch the I-5 and you take it south. Oh man, hot stuff.
LORELAI: That is so typical of you.
LUKE: What?
LORELAI: That is not the quickest way back to Hartford. Everybody knows that you take Main to Cherry to Lynwood and then grab the I-11. Everybody knows that Luke. Everybody, apparently, but you!

Neither of these directions are realistic. The I-5 is the main interstate highway on the west coast of the US, running along the Pacific coast between Mexico and Canada. Luke also says that you travel south to Hartford from Stars Hollow, even though everything in the show suggests that you would travel north-east to reach Hartford from the town. The I-11 is a highway in Nevada, running from the Arizona state line to the city of Henderson.

At least you learn a few street names in Stars Hollow. Main (presumably the main street of town they show all the time), Deerfield, Cherry, and Lynwood.

“You deserve to go to Harvard”

RORY: So does that mean that you might reconsider my suspension?
HEADMASTER: You’re an excellent student. You deserve to go to Harvard. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that.

Utterly, utterly ludicrous. No headmaster would ever tell a student they deserve to go to Harvard, especially one who’d just been caught in his office in the middle of the night. There are many excellent students, Harvard is very difficult to get in to, they won’t all make it. Yet in only her second year at Chilton, Rory is more or less told it is her right to be there.

The writers of Gilmore Girls never seemed to understand how schools and colleges actually operate. Considering how much of the show revolved around Rory’s secondary and tertiary education, it seems like something they maybe should have brushed up on.

“Thank you, Mrs Traiger”

SECRETARY: Headmaster Charleston, the parents are starting to arrive.
HEADMASTER: Thank you, Mrs. Traiger.

Mrs Traiger is Headmaster Charleston’s secretary, last seen in The Lorelai’s First Day at Chilton. I’m not exactly sure what she’s doing here in this scene. Can’t Headmaster Charleston handle this situation without his secretary? Does she have all the keys to the school? Did he phone her and make her get out of bed in the middle of the night and come down to the school, just so she can make all the phone calls to the parents? This woman is not getting paid enough!

Sandra Day O’Connor

PARIS: And the connection you make with the Puffs, they last the rest of your life. My cousin Maddie got her internship at the Supreme Court because of Sandra Day O’Connor.
RORY: Sandra Day O’Connor was a Puff?
PARIS: Yes. She was Puffed in 1946, became the president in ’47, and in ’48 she actually moved the group to the very table you sat at today.

Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930) is a retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate judge in the US Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. Prior to that, she was a judge and elected Republican leader in the Arizona Senate, the first female majority leader in a state senate.

O’Connor most often voted with the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court, and was sometimes named as the most powerful woman in the world. She retired in 2005, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.

In real life, Sandra Day O’Connor could not have gone to Chilton or been a Puff. She was born in Texas and lived on a cattle ranch, attending a private girl’s school in El Paso. For her final year of schooling, she took a 32-mile bus trip every day to attend Stephen F. Austin High School in El Paso (rather like Rory going to Hartford).

In 1946, aged 16, she enrolled at Stanford University, where she gained a BA in Economics in 1950, so she was far beyond the world of high school sororities by that stage. And even at university, she didn’t join a sorority, as they didn’t exist at Stanford at that time.

I think she was just too tough and sensible to ever bother about table allocation in the dining hall, or gossiping about Homecoming. I presume the ludicrousness of the idea is what gave it appeal as a joke.

We also learn that Paris has an older cousin named Maddie who interned at the Supreme Court with the assistance of Sandra Day O’Connor. Maddie must have been a Puff as well, and possibly has a career in law. In real life, membership of sororities and fraternities can gain you coveted positions, although I doubt a high school one would actually be that influential.

The Matrix

LORELAI: I told him that he was completely out of line with this treatment of you, that you are not a loner freak, you have plenty of friends, and you don’t own a long black leather Matrix coat, and they should fall down on their kneesocks everyday that you deign to show up at that loser school.

The Matrix, previously discussed. The hero Neo wears a long black leather trench coat.

Also, how does Rory have “plenty of friends”? She has one friend, Lane! Getting along well with your mother’s social circle doesn’t make them your friends, as Lorelai seems to think. Lorelai has trouble accepting that she and Rory aren’t one person, but two.

The Headmaster Talks to Lorelai

Indignant that the school has dared to suggest her daughter is less than perfect, Lorelai marches into the headmaster’s office in high dudgeon to put him straight on the Gilmore Girl philosophy of not doing anything you don’t feel like.

Headmaster Charleston pulls the wind from her sails by immediately getting out her file (really? Schools keep files on parents? What kind of school is this?). The file is worryingly thin, denoting a lack of parental involvement. Lorelai has only been to one bake sale a year ago, and was observed to not stay afterwards to talk to other parents. Seriously, how does he know all this stuff? Why does he care?

Perhaps tactfully, Headmaster Charleston does not bring up the fact that Lorelai got rather too involved in the school by having a serious relationship with Rory’s teacher. That’s all forgiven and forgotten, but failing to hang out after a bake sale? That’s on your permanent record, Missy!

Now, usually when Lorelai is told to do something, she gets stroppy and calls everyone a Fascist, but this is Rory’s future, so after a few futile attempts to explain she’s too busy, she meekly leaves with a list of organisations at Chilton she might join.

Just as the school wouldn’t listen when Rory was slightly late to a test because she lives out of town and got hit by a deer, there is no attempt to understand that Lorelai is a single mother who works and studies, and is also doing about a million volunteer jobs in Stars Hollow already. Do fathers have to do any of this volunteer stuff for Chilton, or are their lives considered far too busy and worthwhile to be called upon in this way? If so, one of the more realistic things in the show!

The Guidance Counsellor Talks to Rory

Mrs Verdinas, Rory’s guidance counsellor at Chilton, speaks to her about her lack of socialising at school, which Headmaster Charleston told her about a few weeks ago. Mrs Verdinas is her new guidance counsellor; the previous year it was Mr Summers, who we never saw.

This means that only a short time into the academic year, Headmaster Charleston, who is running an entire school, has decided the big problem he needs to address is Rory reading at lunchtime. How he knows about this is a bit of a mystery, unless he spends his free time stalking students in the dining hall.

In a school with hundreds of students, Mrs Verdinas and Headmaster Charleston have been keeping such a close watch on Rory that they’re bothered she’s been spending her lunch times reading and listening to music. Even though she’s getting good grades, works on the school paper, and interacts well with other students on class projects, none of that counts because she doesn’t have any friends at school.

Apparently colleges don’t accept “loners” (really?), and Chilton isn’t going to write a good letter of recommendation for Rory (have they never heard of simply telling some vaguely-worded white lies?). And friends in class doesn’t count, they have to be friends to eat lunch with. Mrs Verdinas never even checks what Rory is reading – perhaps reading Gore Vidal at lunch is better preparation for college than gossiping with Madeline and Louise?

It isn’t even a matter of Mrs Verdinas having a quiet chat to Rory to suggest she might try socialising a little more outside class, she more or less threatens to ruin Rory’s academic future unless she gets some lunch friends, stat!

Yes, it’s all pretty unbelievable, but that is the plot of this episode.

Rory’s Musical Guilty Pleasures

Lorelai gets revenge by mentioning some of Rory’s musical guilty pleasures.

Bryan Adams

Born 1959, Canadian singer, composer, and guitarist who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Joining his first band at 15, he released his debut album, Bryan Adams, at 20, and rose to fame with his 1983 album, Cuts Like a Knife. His 1984 album Reckless made him a star, with hits such as Run to You and Summer of ’69. His 1991 song Everything I Do (I Do It For You) went to #1 around the world, and is one of the best-selling singles of all time. He did a 1996 duet with Barbra Streisand, one of Lorelai’s favourites. Rory had a poster of him on her bedroom wall for two years; this doesn’t seem quite believable, as he reached his peak when she was seven, a bit younger than the usual age kids start putting posters of pop stars on their wall. Another case of Rory being a precocious child, or perhaps, like Lorelai, she is fond of the music that was big when she was a small child?

The Spice Girls [pictured]

A British pop group formed in 1994, with a mantra of “girl power”, they are one of the most recognisable acts of the British pop music resurgence of the 1990s. Their 1996 debut single Wannabe went to #1 around the world, the start of their global success as the face of a marketing juggernaut aimed at girls and young women. They went on hiatus in 2000, but have reunited for two concert tours since. The group has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling girl group of all time, and the biggest British pop success since The Beatles. They became big when Rory was twelve – bang on time for an interest in pop music. Her being a fan of a girl group seems suspiciously like Lorelai’s obsession with girl group The Bangles.

Dido

Born Florian Armstrong in 1971, English singer and songwriter with a distinctive voice. She attained international success with her 1999 debut album, No Angel, which had hit singles such as Here With Me and Thank You. It sold over 21 million copies and won several awards. This seems to be quite a recent guilty pleasure, dating to when Rory was about fifteen.

Busy Diner

LORELAI: Wow, busy today. Has Luke been advertising or something?
RORY: He gets good word-of-mouth.
LORELAI: Well, we have to start spreading bad word-of-mouth so we can always have a table.
RORY: Well, that would be wrong, but sure.

The show opens with Lorelai and Rory having a weekend breakfast at Luke’s and finding it disturbingly busier than they anticipated. (It actually doesn’t look busier than any other time they’ve shown Luke’s diner on a weekend at breakfast time).

Even though there’s a free table right inside the door, they still joke about ruining Luke’s business to make sure they never, never, ever, run the risk of missing out on a table. Then they end up ordering coffee and muffins, which they … didn’t really need a table for, anyway? They could have taken those to go. But from the goofy way Lorelai gazes at Luke, it seems she’s here for more than food …

Lorelai is surprised to see Luke being polite and friendly to a customer, saying he’s usually so gruff. Luke is chatting to a middle-aged woman sitting alone – probably trying to make her feel welcome, as single, older women quite often get short shrift in cafes and restaurants. It’s not only a kind gesture, but good business sense (and quite believable behaviour for someone who lost their mother young and was brought up with traditional values). No wonder he gets good word-of-mouth!

Shecky

LORELAI: Oh Shecky, you kill me.

Shecky Greene (born Fred Sheldon Greenfield in 1926) is an American comedian, known for his headline performances in Las Vegas during the 1950s and ’60s. He also appeared in films and on TV, and made appearances at Carnegie Hall and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Amy Sherman-Palladino became a fan of classic Jewish comedians as a young teenager from listening to her father’s old records. How Lorelai has also gained such knowledge of them is left to the viewer’s imagination.