It’s Alright, Baby

This is the song which Rory is listening to her on her Walkman, which takes us out to the end of the episode.

It’s the second track from the 1998 album What Makes It Go?, from Swedish indie pop group Komeda. The album received good reviews, and is now regarded as their best album. The lyrics of the song reassure Rory that everything is alright, even in a “crazy world”. The madness has ended now, and she can return to her normal life.

Komeda was influenced by The Velvet Underground, one of Lane’s favourite bands, and was chosen to support Beck, one of Lane’s favourite musical artists. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine Lane recommended this album to Rory, and it might even be borrowed from her.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

LORELAI: Who do you think you are, the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Are you French, are you circular? I don’t think so.

Lorelai teases Rory for her lame initiation ceremony by comparing her to that other famous bell-ringer, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, previously discussed.

The fact that Lorelai describes the hunchback as “circular” is a possible indication she might be thinking of the 1939 film, starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo [pictured]. This version gives Quasimodo a very pronounced hump on his back, so that in some scenes he does look almost circular, while later versions tone it down quite a bit.

Ya-Ya Sisterhood

RORY: And the next thing I know, I’m being pulled out of my bed in the middle of the night and I’m blindfolded and then before I know it, I end up here with the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, reciting poetry and lighting candles, and now I’m gonna be suspended because I was trying to do what you told me?

Rory is referring to the 1996 novel, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by American author Rebecca Wells, the sequel to a 1992 short story collection, Little Altars Everywhere. The story is about the disintegrating relationship between an unusual mother and daughter named Vivi and Sidda.

While Sidda is holed up in a cabin the woods to think things through, Vivi’s childhood friends intervene to bring the pair back together by convincing Vivi to mail Sidda her childhood scrapbook, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – the Ya-Ya Sisterhood being the secret society Vivi and her friends formed in 1930s Louisiana, in rebellion against Southern social codes of the times. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood devised its own bizarre initiation rites, based on an imaginary Native American mythos.

The novel was well reviewed and reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was famous enough that Rory doesn’t need to have read it to know about it, but I can’t see any reason why she wouldn’t have. The focus on a powerful but flawed mother-daughter relationship would surely have attracted both Lorelai and Rory to the novel. Rory’s derogatory comment might suggest that if she did read it, she didn’t think much of it.

The book was made into a film starring Sandra Bullock which was released in June 2002, but Rory can’t be referring to that, because it hasn’t happened yet.

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.

Memoirs of A Dutiful Daughter

This is the book Rory is reading on the couch when Lorelai gets home from the fashion show.

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is a 1958 memoir by French author, existentialist philosopher, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir, previously mentioned. It’s a beautifully-written, intimate portrait of her life growing up in a privileged, sheltered, upper middle class French family, rebelling as an adolescent against their conventions, and striking out on her own with intellectual ambition and a ceaselessly questioning, philosophical mind.

Rory often reads Lorelai’s books (they both have an interest in female biography and memoir), and this feels like one Lorelai would have been drawn to. She and de Beauvoir both had the same urge to escape a wealthy, claustrophobic background (Lorelai had Rory as part of her escape, while de Beauvoir had Sartre), and Lorelai spoke of always wishing she could use the word existentialist in a sentence.

The title of the memoir is ironic, but Rory really is a very dutiful daughter to Lorelai. Later on, she too will rebel against her mother.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

This is the song which plays while Lorelai and Emily do their turn on the catwalk.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun was written and first recorded by Robert Hazard in 1979, but is best known for the version performed by Cyndi Lauper, released as the lead single from her 1983 debut album, She’s So Unusual. It became her breakthrough hit, signature song, and a feminist anthem, reaching #2 on the charts, and promoted by a quirky, Grammy-winning music video.

The song describes a girl or young woman telling her parents that she needs to have some fun in her life in order to express herself. It’s something that Lorelai would have wanted to say to Emily and Richard when she was growing up, so the song must have resonated with her. Lorelai later says she chose all the music for the fashion show, and the chances are very high that this song is in her personal music collection.

(Note that Cyndi Lauper wears a red dress on the record cover and in the music video, just like Lorelai and Emily!).

Sideshow

AVA: Oh, he’s adorable. And he [Luke] looks strong, is he strong?
LORELAI: Oh I don’t know. I don’t think he’s gonna be in a sideshow anytime soon, but he can get the lid off a pickle jar.

The Strongman, a man performing amazing feats of strength, was a circus sideshow attraction in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Yep, another circus reference! These days, Strongman events have become athletic competitions.

Ava’s later comment about hoping Luke is unattached is a sign that she is a single mother, like Lorelai. It seems as if Lorelai might have more in common with some of the Chilton moms than she thought. However, Ava’s interest in Luke has doomed her chances of becoming Lorelai’s friend, which is a shame as they seemed like they could have got on well together, and been allies in the Chilton world. Romantic and sexual attraction pretty much ruins everything in Gilmore Girls.

The Philharmonic Committee

MENA: Lorelai Gilmore. So you’re Emily’s daughter?
LORELAI: Oh, yeah. You know my mother?
MENA: Oh, very well. We’re on the Philharmonic committee together. She told me to keep an eye out for you.

A Philharmonic Society is one dedicated to organising concerts of classical music, and the name is reminiscent of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, suggesting the committee is one which supports a symphony orchestra. It could very well be one and the same with the Symphony Fundraising Committee, which Emily sits on with Headmaster Charleston’s wife, Bitty. Either that, or the writers have given Hartford two symphony orchestras, and Emily supports both.

Mena is on the committee with Emily, and they seem to be on good terms. This may have been another thing assisting Lorelai to be so easily accepted by the Booster Club mothers. Emily is very influential – rejecting her daughter would not be a smart thing to do.