Military School in North Carolina

TRISTAN: The police are letting our parents handle it, and in my case that means military school in North Carolina.

A meta comment. Chad Michael Murray, who played Tristan, left the show in order to begin filming the teen drama One Tree Hill (2003-2012), shown on the same channel as Gilmore Girls (The WB); Murray had the lead role of Lucas Scott. One Tree Hill is set in the fictional town of Tree Hill in North Carolina, and mostly filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Amy Sherman-Palladino apparently planned for Tristan to become Rory’s boyfriend in high school/college and her “Christopher”, which, because Chad Michael Murray went to another show, was a role filled by the character of Logan Huntzberger instead. In this farewell episode, you can see the faint beginnings of the tenderness between Rory and Tristan which would have blossomed into eventual love. Anyone wishing to see what would have happened if Logan had been Tristan instead must turn to fanfiction.

In real life, there is only one one military school in North Carolina, and it is Oak Ridge Military Academy, so presumably that’s where Tristan is headed. It was originally founded in 1850, and was one of the first military schools to become co-educational, in 1972. It apparently had a reputation at one time of taking troubled youth, which it is working to overcome.

If Tristan turned up to Chilton in order to say he was leaving for military school, couldn’t he also have stayed to do the scene with them? Does everyone transfer schools on a Sunday night in this universe? (Maybe because they’re boarding schools?).

With Tristan out of the picture, the love triangle between Rory, Dean, and Tristan comes to an end, to make way for a new love triangle, which becomes clear in the very next episode.

Doogie Howser

LORELAI: Business school has to indicate some kind of maturity, right?
LUKE: Doogie Howser was a doctor at sixteen.
LORELAI: Doogie Howser was not real.

Dr Douglas “Doogie” Howser (played by Neil Patrick-Harris) is the protagonist of the television medical comedy-drama, Doogie Howser, MD (1989-1993). A child genius, Howser graduated from Princeton at the age of ten, and completed medical school at fourteen. The show opens on Doogie’s sixteenth birthday, and shows the challenges he faces practising medicine as a resident surgeon while also coping with the usual teenage problems.

The show was abruptly cancelled due to low ratings, but has made its mark as a cultural reference, as anyone young and very smart is generally dubbed “Doogie Howser”. This year it was rebooted as Doogie Kameāloha, MD, about a sixteen-year-old Hawaiian girl working as a doctor, with Peyton Lee in the title role.

In real life, Balamurali Ambati has the Guinness World Record for obtaining his medical license at the age of 17, graduating from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City in 1995. He thus became the youngest qualified medical doctor in the world, so not too far off Doogie Howser. (Dr Ambati disliked comparisons to Dr Howser, and as he was six feet tall at age fourteen, fit in with the other medical students and was popular with his peers).

Beanie with a Propeller

RORY: How much older could [Paul] possibly look?
LORELAI: A lot! He’s usually a little scruffy, and then the baseball cap hides the funky hair thing.
RORY: He should’ve been holding a yo-yo and a lollipop and wearing a beanie with a propeller on it.

Rory is describing a stereotypical little boy as depicted by cartoonists in the 1960s and ’70s in particular, although it’s never quite gone away.

The helicopter beanie comes from the 1962 animated television show Beany and Cecil, based on the puppet show Time For Beany (1949-1955). Beany was a cherubic-faced blonde boy who wore a cap with a propeller on it that allowed him to fly, and as a result, similar caps became popular marketing novelties. Beany and Cecil had a revival in 1988, The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil, by the same people who made Ren and Stimpy.

Rory and the rest of the town tease Lorelai mercilessly for dating someone who is, at most, ten years younger than she is. Fans often say they wouldn’t have teased her for dating someone ten years older, which I think is correct, except in the case of Luke. He told her Ian Jack, the Chilton dad, was “too old” for her, and the actor playing him is ten years older than the age Lorelai is supposed to be. As Luke never even saw Ian, I’m pretty sure he would have objected to him whatever his age!

Powerpuff Girls

LORELAI: All right, that’s it. This afternoon we are going to engage in some intensive retail therapy to bring you out of this funk.
RORY: No thanks.
LORELAI: I mean it. Today is the day we finally spring for the Powerpuff Girls shot glasses.

The Powerpuff Girls is an animated television series on the Cartoon Network about three kindergarten-aged girls with superpowers named Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. The girls live in the fictional city of Townsville with their father and creator, Professor Utonium.

The plot of each episode is a humorous take on superhero shows, with the girls having to defend their city from villains and monsters, while also dealing with typical little kid issues, like loose teeth and bedwetting. The original series was broacast from 1998 to 2005, but had various specials, a movie, and a range of spin-off media.

Episodes often contain hidden references to older popular culture, with sly tributes and parodies, and has been praised as both pop culture and high art, suitable for small children and adults. You can see why Lorelai and Rory love it.

The Powerpuff Girls have a wide range of merchandise, and you can indeed buy Powerpuff Girls shot glasses.

The Beave

RORY: Are you all right?
TRISTAN: Yeah, I think somehow I’ll recover from the great romance between you and the Beave.

Tristan references the sitcom Leave It to Beaver, broadcast from 1957 to 1963. It centres on an inquisitive, naive young boy, Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver (played by Jerry Mathers), and his adventures at home, school, and around his neighbourhood. His parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and his older brother Wally also featured.

The show has an iconic status in the US, with the Cleavers the epitome of an idealised suburban family from the mid-twentieth century. Very popular at the time, it has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity from the 1970s onward, thanks to reruns, and two movies and a sequel series have been made. Although it never won an award or the ratings, it is considered one of the all-time greatest television shows.

Tristan covers up his hurt by to implying that Dean is not only old-fashioned and suburban, but also innocent and child-like compared to the supposedly more worldly and sophisticated Tristan.

Ab Fab

LORELAI: He’s never seen Ab Fab.
RORY: Definitely not a soulmate.

Absolutely Fabulous (often called Ab Fab) is a British television sitcom starring Jennifer Saunders as Edina “Eddy” Monsoon, a heavy-drinking PR agent who spends all her time chasing the latest hip fad, and Joanna Lumley as her best friend Patsy Stone, a fashion editor whose drug abuse, alcohol consumption and promiscuity are at almost life-threatening proportions. Eddy’s studious daughter Saffron “Saffy”, played by Julia Sawalha, is the sensible one who tries to rein in her wayward mother’s worst excesses, taking on the parent role in their relationship.

The first three series were broadcast on the BBC in the UK from 1992 to 1994, with a special in 1996. In the US, it premiered in 1994 on Comedy Central. After receiving critical acclaim and being named one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time in 2000, it was revived in 2001 – Lorelai may have become a fan quite recently. It was shown on the Oxygen Network, which might be how she watched it, and became a cult hit in the US.

The revival continued until 2004, with a twentieth anniversary series of specials in 2011-2012. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie was released in 2016.

Absolutely Fabulous‘ demographic was, broadly speaking, gay men and straight women over 35, so it’s hardly surprising that Paul has never seen it. I think it’s unrealistic to expect her “soulmate” to be a fan of the show.

The mother-daughter relationship between Eddy and Saffy is an exaggerated version of that between Lorelai and Rory, and Eddy’s outrageous outfits sometimes aren’t much worse than a few of Lorelai’s more questionable fashion choices. I think this would have been a show Lorelai and Rory would have enjoyed watching together, seeing something of themselves in the characters. Perhaps Rory is Lorelai’s true soulmate.

James Lipton and the Actors Studio

RORY: Of course, right, I have to [tell Dean I kissed Tristan].
LORELAI: Yeah. Then at the play, right as Tristan enters to find you dead and pulls out the vial of poison to kill himself, Dean can leap from the audience and rip his head off, adding a level of reality few productions have ever seen before. You’ll get an A. The Actors Studio will go nuts. You’ll have James Lipton asking you what your favorite swear word is. It’s a great plan.

Louis James Lipton (1926-2020), actor, lyricist, and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York. He was the creator, executive producer, writer, and host of the talk show, Inside the Actors Studio, which began broadcasting in 1994.

The show interviews famous actors and directors in a far more in-depth manner than the usual celebrity piece, sometimes taking hours, and set up as a masterclass for students of drama. Since its inception, it has interviewed over 300 guests, with Paul Newman as the first.

The interview always includes a questionnaire submitted to the guest, with ten questions. Question 7 is, “What is your favourite curse word”?

Vanna

RORY: Right, so Tristan, he’s in our group, so that means he’s in …well, and Dean lives here, so this sucks.
LORELAI: Okay, you know what Vanna? I’m gonna need a few more vowels here.

Vanna White (born Vanna Rosich, born 1957), famous since 1982 for being the hostess of Wheel of Fortune, previously mentioned.

When solving the word puzzles, contestants can ask Vanna for the chance to “buy a vowel” to give them extra help. Lorelai feels that she also needs some assistance to decipher Rory’s barely comprehensible statement.

The Monkees

RORY: Hey.
MADELINE: Hey.
LOUISE: We’re the Monkees.

The opening words to the theme song of The Monkees television show, a sitcom running from 1966 to 1968, starring the American pop group, The Monkees, as four young men trying to make it as a rock and roll band. The verse says:

Hey hey, we’re The Monkees

And people say we monkey around

But we’re too busy singing

To get anybody down

The show utilised a number of innovative new wave film techniques to the sitcom format, and won two Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series. Even after its run ended, it continued its popularity thanks to reruns, in particular a massive resurgence after 1986, when it was shown on MTV.

Note that this is essentially the same joke used in regard to Fat Albert in Like Mother, Like Daughter.

The Twilight Zone

PAUL: I think it’s a conspiracy getting us ready for the day we’re all gonna be raised by machines. No human contact whatsoever.
LORELAI: You know my mother, don’t you?
PAUL: The, uh, Twilight Zone marathon was on all week.

The Twilight Zone, an American media franchise created by Rod Serling. Each episode is in genres such as science-fiction, fantasy, suspense, or horror, often with a macabre or unexpected twist, and usually with a moral attached. The original series ran from 1959 to 1964, and it was revived in 1985, 2002, and 2019, as well as being made into films and a radio show, and inspiring various books, games, and theme park attractions. A popular and critical success, it is considered one of the best television series ever made.

Paul’s theory about being raised by machines with no human contact sounds like something from The Twilight Zone, although I can’t locate an episode with the same plot. It’s a tiny little bit like the 1962 episode I Sing the Body Electric, written by Ray Bradbury, about three children raised by a robot “grandmother”. Far from being a nightmarish scenario, the robot carer is kind and empathetic, and the children love her dearly.

Paul enjoys science-fiction shows, like Lorelai (and like Luke). It must be one of the reasons she feels drawn to him. Although mentioning you have mummy issues before you even get to the first date doesn’t seem like a great idea.