River City

TAYLOR: When standards slip, families flee and in comes the seedy crowd. You got trouble, my friends.
LORELAI: Right here in River City!

A reference to the 1962 musical film The Music Man, adapted from the hit 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, written by Meredith Willson. Directed by Morton DaCosta, and with Robert Preston in the title role, the film is set in River City, Iowa (based on Mason City) in 1912.

The film is about a conman named Harold Hill who tries to swindle a town by claiming he is raising funds to pay for a marching band. In the song Ya Got Trouble, Harold convinces the townspeople that the pool hall is seducing their boys into sin and vice so that they will sink money into the marching band to save them. The song says repeatedly, “Ya got trouble right here in River City!”.

The Music Man was the #5 film of 1962, and won an Academy Award for its score. Critically acclaimed, it is regarded as one of the best musical films of all time. It was filmed on the same Warner Brothers lot as Gilmore Girls.

Harvey Fierstein

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.

Oscar and Felix

While arguing over whether to eat leftover pizza from the garbage bin – it was only just thrown out and is still in the box – Rory calls Lorelai “Oscar”, and she counters by calling Rory “Felix”.

This is in reference to Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, the main characters from The Odd Couple, originally a 1965 Broadway play written by Neil Simon. In the story, the pair are friends sharing an apartment, with the slovenly Oscar and neat-freak Felix constantly clashing.

The Odd Couple was made into a comedy film in 1968, directed by Gene Saks, and with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon starring as Oscar and Felix respectively. Given rave reviews by critics, it was the #4 film of 1968.

It was then made into a television sitcom with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall as Oscar and Felix, originally airing from 1970 to 1975, but still on American television in reruns. This may be the version of The Odd Couple that Lorelai and Rory is most familiar with.

It seems to be an old joke between Lorelai and Rory to see themselves as “the odd couple” – mismatched housemates who nevertheless are very fond of each other.

(Note that Lorelai cleaning out the refrigerator is a call back to the contest she and Rory had at the start of the episode to see who had to clean out the fridge – apparently Lorelai lost).

Someone to Watch Over Me

This is the song which plays while Luke sadly watches Lorelai and Max together on their date in the snow.

Someone to Watch Over Me was written by George and Ira Gershwin, for the 1926 stage musical Oh, Kay!, where it was sung by Gertrude Lawrence. It went on to become a jazz standard, recorded numerous times, and several times used in films – including What’s Up Doc? (1972), referred to earlier.

The version used on the show is sung by Rickie Lee Jones, from her 2000 album It’s Like This.


LORELAI: You’re going to quote Freud to me? ‘Cause I’ll push you in front of a moving car.

After Luke says it’s not surprising that Rory is attracted to a boy who reminds Lorelai of Rory’s dad Christopher, she believes he might be thinking of Freud.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis. The Oedipus complex – named after the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles – was a theory he coined in 1910, to describe a child’s unconscious sexual desire for their opposite-sex parent. Some modern psychologists broadly agree with his theory, while others find no evidence it exists. Studies apparently suggest that we are more likely to seek partners with vague physical similarity to our parents.

Luke says that he just meant that Lorelai and Rory are quite alike in their tastes, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they would be attracted to similar men.


The Crucible

LUKE: I’m not gonna say you look concerned.
LORELAI: I’m not gonna talk about how good you’d look dressed like one of the guys from The Crucible.

The Crucible is a 1953 play by American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a a dramatised version of the Salem witch trials which took place in Massachusetts in 1692-93, the play serving as an allegory of the McCarthy era, when the US government accused people of subversion or treason based on a suspicion of communist sympathies. It won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1953, and has gone on to become a classic of American drama.

The Crucible was adapted into a film in 1996, with Arthur Miller writing the screenplay. Lorelai could easily have seen the film when it came out, if she had never seen it on stage. The Puritan clothing worn by characters in The Crucible remind Lorelai of Thanksgiving Pilgrim costumes.