Zelda Fitzgerald

RORY: Did you pick out your ring?
LORELAI: Yup, he’s gonna surprise me with it tomorrow.
RORY: Twenties Deco?
LORELAI: Supposedly ripped right off of Zelda Fitzgerald’s cold dead hand.

Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) was an American socialite, writer, artist, and the wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple became icons of the Jazz Age, and her husband dubbed Zelda “the first American flapper”.

The Fitzgeralds’ marriage deteriorated, and Zelda was admitted to psychiatric care, diagnosed as schizophrenic. She spent the rest of her life in and out of sanatoriums. Like Amy Sherman-Palladino, Zelda studied ballet as a child, and as an adult, became obsessed with it again to the detriment of her health.

Lorelai is joking about her engagement ring being Zelda Fitzgerald’s, just that it is from the 1920s. It is telling that she links her engagement ring with a woman who had a famously disastrous marriage.

“Crazy people”

LUKE: [sees the people in the window] What the hell’s going on with them?
LORELAI: Oh, I don’t know.
LUKE: Crazy people. Whole town should be medicated and put in a rec room with ping pong tables and hand puppets.

Luke is describing what he thinks occurs in mental health institutions – psychotropic medication and mild social entertainment. The hand puppets may be (in his mind) to facilitate therapeutic dialogue.

Rory Finds Her Dean Box

For some reason, Rory goes through the front hallway cupboard and finds her Dean box. Upon discovering that Lorelai didn’t throw it away after all, she is actually pleased, and kisses Lorelai to say thanks. She goes through the box, now ready to explore her memories and feelings of Dean, rather than push them away.

The items she is shown examining are her dress from the winter formal that she attended with Dean; Colonel Clucker, her stuffed toy rooster that Dean picked up the first time he was in her bedroom; the box of cornstarch she accidentally stole after Dean kissed her; and the home-made leather bracelet that Dean gave her for her sixteenth birthday.

Colonel Clucker may be a callback to the dream about Kentucky Fried Chicken, founded by Colonel Sanders, that Lorelai discussed with her. Perhaps Lorelai’s dream was mildly precognitive, especially as Rory found her Dean box at the back of the hall cupboard? Rory’s dream may have been precognitive as well, since her dream was about accepting her emotions – or perhaps it just showed she was psychologically ready to find the box, and so she did.

Bipolar

LUKE: No, I believe you. If you say there’s no reason for the mood, then there’s no reason for the mood. You’re simply nuts.
LORELAI: Or bipolar. That’s very big nowadays.

Bipolar disorder, once known as manic depression, is a mood disorder where the sufferer goes through periods of severe depression followed by manic periods that might mean feeling abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. During the manic periods, erratic and impulsive behaviour is often present, as well as an inflated sense of welf worth, and speaking excessively and rapidly.

Although Lorelai probably isn’t bipolar (she’s never diagnosed, doesn’t take medication, and never becomes suicidal or self-harming on screen), it’s interesting that she does seem to have quite a few of the symptoms to some extent. Her mood swings may be due to all the sugar she consumes.

When Lorelai says being bipolar is “very big nowadays” she’s probably referring to those celebrities, such as actress Patty Duke, who were open about their diagnosis, raising awareness and encouraging others to seek help or treatment.

Charlie Manson

CHRISTOPHER: I want to marry you …
LORELAI: You are out of your mind. You are completely insane. You have flipped your lid. Charlie Manson is freaked out by you right now!

Charles Manson (1934-2017) was an American criminal and cult leader, earlier alluded to as the head of the notorious Manson Family. His followers committed a series of murders in 1969 under his instructions.

Obsessed with The Beatles, Manson believed their song Helter Skelter was a warning of an apocalyptic war between whites and blacks, and that the Manson Family were being instructed to preserve the worthy from the impending disaster. By committing the murders, his followers would help precipitate the race war, and also control it, allowing them to escape from harm.

In 1971 he was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Originally sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, which he served in California State Prison.

Lorelai believes Manson was mentally ill, and the prison system agreed. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoid delusions, had no remorse for any of his crimes, or apparent understanding of their magnitude, with highly controlling behaviour, and an exceptionally callous disregard for human suffering.

Michael Douglas

LORELAI: Okay, so now the fact that I suggested painting Luke’s diner also means that I wanted to get him in bed. All of a sudden I’m trying to get any poor, unsuspecting person in bed with me. I’m like – I’m Michael Douglas!

Michael Douglas (born 1944) is a multi award-winning American actor and producer, with a long career in theatre, film, and television. He is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones, earlier discussed as one of the “pretty women” that Lorelai wonders if Luke’s ex-girlfriend Rachel resembles.

In 1993 it was widely reported that Michael Douglas was a sex addict and had entered rehab to be treated for his addiction (leading to much mockery). He refuted these claims, saying that he had gone into rehab to be treated for alcohol addiction, but the rumours persist – they were even published again in his 2012 biography by Marc Eliot, Michael Douglas: A Biography.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Douglas told the public he had throat cancer caused by giving cunnilingus to many women, which did nothing to calm down the sex addiction rumours. In 2013 Douglas revealed he had actually had tongue cancer, and denied that there was any link with performing oral sex.

In January 2018, journalist Susan Braudy went public with claims that she had been sexually harassed by Michael Douglas in 1989 while working for him, including that he used inappropriate sexual language, and masturbated to orgasm in front of her. Douglas denies the allegations, although Braudy has shared corroborating evidence with the press. This has reignited the “sex addiction” rumours all over again.

Lorelai seems to have the common belief that people with “sex addiction” must be constantly trying to get random people to have intercourse with them, although such behaviour is probably rarer in real life than people think.

(Note: “Sex addiction” has not been accepted as a diagnosis by any mainstream psychological or psychiatric body, but there are support groups and treatment programs for it).

Hypochondria

RORY: Can brains hurt?
LORELAI: Yes, it’s hypochondria hour.

Hypochondria is a condition where a person is overly worried about having a serious illness, and become extremely concerned about even mild symptoms in the fear that they are a sign of a life-threatening condition. In many cases, their anxiety about their health actually produces the symptoms they are worried about, such as headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, weight loss, or fatigue. It is now called “illness anxiety disorder”.