Anne Sexton

FRANCIE: The historical bell of Chilton, 120 years old. Every member of the Puffs has stood here under the cover of night to pledge her lifelong devotion to us. ‘I pledge myself to the Puffs, loyal I’ll always be, a P to start, 2 F’s at the end, and a U sitting in between.’
RORY: Anne Sexton, right?

Anne Sexton (born Anne Harvey, 1928-1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse, on themes such as her depression and suicidal feelings. She is often compared with Sylvia Plath, and the two were friends (they were both poets around the same age from the Boston area). She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1968, and took her own life by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rory satirically compares the sub-literary Puffs rhyme with Sexton’s verse. The gloom-loving, suicide-romanticising Rory would surely have checked out Sexton’s poetry, and the Puffs seem to make her mind automatically swing towards thoughts of self-oblivion.

Nancy Reagan

RORY: You look like Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan (born Anne Robbins, 1921-2016) was an American film actress, and as wife to Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the US, First Lady from 1981 to 1989.

Nancy Reagan had a strong interest in fashion and was often compared to former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, previously discussed. She favoured the colour red, and wore it so often that fire-engine red became known as “Reagan red”. Her clothing choices did actually resemble Lorelai and Emily’s outfits, and I think they must have been based on Reagan’s signature style.

Gary Mule Deer

IVY: She’s [Paris] funny?
RORY: Oh yeah. Hilarious. I mean, the times that we have spent laughing together. I tell ya, she’s a regular Gary Mule Deer.

Gary Mule Deer (born Gary Miller, 1939), American comedian and country music singer. In a career spanning over six decades, he has performed major concert stages in the US, including Carnegie Hall and Grand Ole Opry, and made more than 350 television appearances, including on Hee Haw, previously discussed. He entertains regularly at casinos, including in Las Vegas, and for many years has toured in concert as a special guest to Johnny Mathis.

Mariah Carey’s Crack-Up

FRANCIE: Mariah Carey’s crackup.
LEM: Have you heard her fan message recently? She’s fine and is currently staring at a really beautiful rainbow.
IVY: Survivor, hello.

Mariah Carey (born 1969), American singer, songwriter, and actress. She rose to fame in 1990 with her self-titled debut album, and was the first artist to have her first five singles reach #1. She initially signed with Columbia, and married one of their executives in 1993 (they separated in 1997 and divorced in 1998).

In July 2001, after parting with Columbia and breaking up with her boyfriend of three years, Carey suffered a physical and mental breakdown. She began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website, and displayed erratic behaviour on several promotional appearances, such as doing an unscripted striptease on MTV. The messages on her website spoke of being drained and burnt out by the music industry, and needing a break.

Carey was admitted to a hospital in Connecticut for treatment for two weeks, then remained absent from the public for some time. In late August (perhaps 4-6 weeks before the events of this episode), Carey posted an audio message on her website thanking fans for their support during her recovery.

In the message she told her fans, I just want to say thank you so much for all the letters and everything … as I speak to you, I’m looking at the most beautiful rainbow that is going across the entire sky, and I love you much! Thanks. Bye. She took the rainbow as a positive omen, especially as her 1999 album was called Rainbow.

Recently, Mariah Carey has revealed that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time of hospitalisation, but it took her some time to accept it. It must be said that Gilmore Girls was never particularly sensitive on the subject of mental health issues.

Leonardo DiCaprio

LORELAI: Ugh, they totally just snuck that modelling thing in.
RORY: Hmm, my mom’s a model. Maybe you’ll get to date Leonardo DiCaprio now.

Leonardo DiCaprio (born 1974), award-winning actor, producer, and environmentalist, known for taking unusual roles, especially in biopics and period pieces. At this stage, DiCaprio had won critical acclaim for his role in the 1993 quirky coming of age film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and become an international star after playing the male lead in the 1997 epic romance, Titanic, which became the highest-grossing film to that point.

In 1999, he began dating Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen (born 1980), a relationship which lasted until 2005; this is what Rory is thinking of [pictured]. It’s another of those celebrity references which have had real staying power, because DiCaprio went on to date a number of other models, and since 2017 has been in a relationship with Argentine-American model Camila Morrone (born 1997).

Kate Moss

LORELAI: Oh, yeah, sure, I’ll be there all day. So, a fashion show, huh? Are we gonna get any famous models?
AVA: Excuse me?
LORELAI: You know, to model the clothes. Any chance I’m finally gonna get to see Kate Moss eat something?

Katherine “Kate” Moss (born 1974) is a British supermodel and businesswoman. She rose to fame in the mid 1990s as part of the grungy heroin chic fashion trend, where models were not only emaciated to the point of androgyny, but also had pale skin, stringy greasy hair, and dark circles under their eyes, as if actually physically ill or drug-ravaged. It was a reaction against the 1980s supermodel trend of models looking healthy and vibrant, like Elle MacPherson.

Kate Moss became a fashion icon through her collaboration with Calvin Klein, famous for her waif-like size zero figure and connections with the British music scene, dating famous musicians and appearing in several music videos. She had allegations of drug use against her which she never denied, although she was later cleared of all charges due to lack of evidence.

She became known for her quote, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, which she later regretted. Despite Lorelai wondering if Kate Moss will ever eat anything, one of the reasons she became so popular with the media is that she was very thin, yet was often photographed eating junk food, which she claimed to live on. I can’t help wondering if she was one of the inspirations for Lorelai and Rory’s diet!

Although fans sometimes get frustrated with Lorelai and Rory looking so slim despite their supposed huge appetites and junk food diet, in fact they were refreshingly energetic, fit and healthy looking compared to many of the girls and women in the media and on television shows in the 1990s (eg Paris Hilton, Ally McBeal). This was a time when actresses like Alicia Silverstone and Drew Barrymore were considered “fat”. Lorelai and Rory may have been slender, but at least they didn’t starve themselves, or look sick and scrawny.

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.

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.