DEAN: So, who’s Donna Reed?
LORELAI: You don’t know who Donna Reed is? The quintessential ’50s mom with the perfect ’50s family?
RORY: Never without a smile and high heels?
LORELAI: Hair, that if you hit it with a hammer, would crack?
Donna Reed, born Donna Mullenger (1921-1986) was an American actress and producer, with a career lasting over 40 years, and roles in more than 40 films. She is well known for her role as Mary Bailey in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life, and in 1953 won Best Supporting Actress playing Lorene Burke in From Here to Eternity.
The Donna Reed Show made her a household name and earned her a Golden Globe for Best Female TV Star, and several Emmy nominations. She also appeared on television in The Love Boat, and as Miss Ellie Ewing on Dallas from 1984-85, her final role.
As Lorelai and Rory only talk about Donna Reed in regard to her role on The Donna Reed Show, it suggests that they are ignorant about her life and career otherwise, or simply discount it. You can’t help but feel that the writer is setting them up as straw feminists.
LORELAI: I mean, like was she [Rachel] a Catherine Zeta-Jones kind of pretty, or a Michelle Pfiffer-y pretty or –
SOOKIE: She was an Elle MacPherson kind of pretty.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (born 1969) is a Welsh actress who found success on the stage and in the British television series The Darling Buds of May (1991-1993). She established herself in Hollywood with films such as The Mask of Zorro (1998), Entrapment (1999), and Traffic (2000), often chosen for roles where her sex appeal could be used to advantage.
Michelle Pfeiffer (born 1958) is an American actress, singer, and producer. She began her acting career in 1978 after winning two beauty pageants, and her breakout role was in the 1983 crime film Scarface. She had leading roles in films such as The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Batman Returns (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), Dangerous Minds (1995), and What Lies Beneath (2000). She is considered to be one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood as well as one of the most beautiful.
Elle MacPherson (born Eleanor Gow in 1964) [pictured] is an Australian supermodel, actress, television host, and businesswoman. She rose to fame during the 1980s with her girl next door image, was often chosen for swimsuit shoots, and became known as The Body because of her figure. Lorelai seems to be quite threatened to discover that Luke’s ex-girlfriend is an “Elle MacPherson kind of pretty”.
LORELAI (to Rory): Oh you’re going to have a great time. The Bangles are the best! They were my favorite band in high school. I almost named you Susanna.
We find out here that not only was The Bangles Lorelai’s favourite band as a teenager, but she almost named Rory after Susanna Hoffs (born 1959), their lead singer. Susanna’s middle name is Lee, very similar to Rory’s middle name of Leigh.
[Lorelai has entered wearing a leopard print cowboy hat]
RORY: What are you wearing?
LORELAI: Hey, we have already argued about the sweatshirt.
RORY: Yes but we have not argued about the hat.
LORELAI: What hat?
RORY: The one on your head, Annie Oakley.
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter who won a shooting match while still a teenager. She later joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and became an international star who performed before royalty and heads of state. While performing, she generally wore a Western-style outfit, including a cowboy hat.
PARIS: My mother is having the entire place redone; she wants all evidence of my father out of there [after their divorce]. So unless you want to sit on no furniture, while watching three Harvey Fierstein impersonators rip up the carpet and paint everything a ridiculous shade of white and call it Angel’s Kiss, then we’re going to have to find somebody else’s house to go to.
Harvey Fierstein is a multi Tony Award-winning actor and playwright, best known for his 1982 Torch Song Trilogy, which he both wrote and originally starred in – it went to Broadway and the West End in London before being made into a film.
Fierstein was openly gay at a time when few celebrities were, and his works often centre on LGBT issues. Paris is simply saying that her mother’s decorators are gay, or appear to be so.
Rory’s teacher Ms. Caldecott tells the class they will be debating “Did Charles I receive a fair trial?”. It’s not clear which class this is – it may be History, and Ms. Caldecott has replaced Mrs. Ness as the teacher for the subject this semester, or it may be Government.
Charles I (1600-1649) was the king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625 until his death. Charles was in conflict with the Parliament of England, which tried to place limits on his royal prerogative – the authority and privileges which belong to the monarch alone. Charles believed in the divine right of kings, and that he was subject to no earthly authority, but could rule as he pleased through the will of God.
From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War, was defeated in 1645 but still refused to accept demands for a constitutional monarchy. He was tried, convicted, and executed on charges of high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished before being restored in 1660.
At his trial, Charles was held responsible for all the damage done to his country during the Civil War, including the deaths of 6% of the population. He refused to plead, claiming that no court held authority over a monarch, and that his authority to rule came from God and from the laws of England. He said that the trial was illegal, and its power only came from the force of arms.
The court challenged the idea that a monarch was immune from prosecution by the state, proposing that the “king” was not a person, but an office whose occupant had to govern by the laws of the land. They went ahead with the trial without the king’s royal assent. Charles was not present to hear the evidence against him, and had no opportunity to question witnesses, so there would be material for both sides of the debate.
LORELAI: That’s very Richard Simmons of you [that Luke put nutmeg in the coffee].
LUKE: Well what can I say. Chicks dig a man with a feminine side.
Richard Simmons (born Milton Simmons in 1948) is an American fitness instructor, actor, and comedian. He ran his own gym for many years, and promoted weight-loss through exercise programs, often appearing as a guest on television chat shows.
Simmons is well known for his flamboyant, energetic personality, and his signature outfit of candy-striped short-shorts and singlet top decorated with crystals. His sexuality has long been a subject for speculation, but has never been confirmed either way.
Apparently Lorelai is just saying that putting nutmeg is coffee is “gay” (or at least sexually ambiguous). Not one of her finest moments.