Shaun Cassidy

LORELAI: Yeah, I never leave home without all the essentials: mirror, makeup, picture of Shaun Cassidy.

Shaun Cassidy (born 1958), singer, actor, writer, and producer. He is the son of Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones and Tony Award-winning actor Jack Cassidy, the half-brother of David Cassidy from The Partridge Family, and the brother of actor Patrick Cassidy.

While still in high school, he signed a record contract and forged a career as a teen pop idol. His biggest hit was “Da Doo Ron Ron”, which went to #1 in 1977. At the same time, he starred in The Hardy Boys Mysteries on television, and had a role on General Hospital.

During the 1980s and 1990s he concentrated on stage acting, performing on Broadway and in the West End. He wrote his first television pilot in 1995 while appearing in Blood Brothers on Broadway alongside David Cassidy, and has gone on to have a successful career as a screenwriter and TV producer.

Lorelai implies she had a crush on Shaun Cassidy when she was a little girl, although also, a bit oddly, that her make-up routine dates to the same period, when she would have been aged 8 to 12. This actually makes more sense for someone Amy Sherman-Palladino’s age, as she would have been around 14 at the end of Cassidy’s pop star career.

It sometimes feels as if the Palladinos forget that the small age gap between them and their fictional character Lorelai would still make a difference in the childhood years, and they can’t just give Lorelai all Amy’s childhood memories.

Slaughterhouse-Five

This is the book Jess is reading in this episode, that he tells Luke is not for school.

Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1969 semi-autobiographical science-fiction anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut. The story, told in a non-linear fashion by an unreliable narrator, relates the life and experiences of a man from upstate New York named Billy Pilgrim, from his early years to his service during World War II, and post-war years – his experiences include time travel and alien abduction. The book centres on Billy’s capture by the German Army, and his survival of the Allied firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner-of-war.

Categorised as a postmodern, metafictional novel, it is characterised by Vonnegut’s signature style, with simple sentences underpinning a text of irony, sentimentality, black humour, and instruction. The short, declarative sentences give the impression of reading a factual report, while the focus shifts between the writer’s perspective as someone who met Billy Pilgrim to an omniscient third person narrator. The first sentence is, “All this happened, more or less”. It is considered one of the best first lines in American fiction. The sentence, “So it goes”, is used as a repetitive refrain throughout.

Slaughterhouse-Five received mostly positive reviews, and became a bestseller, staying on the New York Times Bestseller List for sixteen weeks. It has been adapted for stage and radio, and been turned into both a film and a graphic novel.

The novel is controversial, with many attempts of censorship against it, especially in school and college libraries. This makes Jess’ reading of it at school seem like a deliberate attempt to draw attention to himself. A story about someone who has been through terrible trauma until they find life meaningless seems to be something which Jess relates to.

The Pigeon Sisters and Opus

PARIS: I’m sorry, group leader, could you ask the Pigeon sisters if there is a point to this opus?

The Pigeon sisters are characters from the film The Odd Couple, previously mentioned. They are English sisters named Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon who live in the same building as Felix and Oscar. They were played by cousins Monica Evans and Carole Shelley in the original Broadway play, the film, and the 1970 sit-com, although their roles were gradually phased out in the television show.

The Pigeon sisters are friendly, flirtatious, ditzy, and as their name suggests, slightly bird-brained, rather like Louise and Madeline. Paris has no problem tearing down her friends in public; no wonder that Rory isn’t sure whether Paris is her friend or not.

An opus is an artistic work, especially one on a grand scale.

Godot

EMILY: We have not been waiting forever.

LORELAI: Forever. Godot was just here. He said ‘I ain’t waiting for Richard,’ grabbed a roll, and left. It’s been forever.

A reference to Waiting for Godot, a play by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, originally written in French in 1948-49 (title: En attendant Godot). The French play had its premiere in Paris in 1953, and Beckett’s English translation of his own play premiered in London in 1955.

In the play two characters named Vladimir and Estragon engage in a number of discussions and encounters while they wait for the Godot of the title, who never turns up. It has been voted the most significant English language play of the 20th century.

David and Lisa

TAYLOR: Let go of me!

TROUBADOUR #2: Don’t like to be touched, that’s cool. Got a little David and Lisa thing happening?

David and Lisa, 1962 drama film directed by Frank Perry. It is based on the second story in the 1961 novella Lisa and David by a psychiatrist named Theodore Isaac Rubin; the screenplay is written by Rubin’s wife, Eleanor Katz. The story is about a bright young man named David (played by Keir Dullea) who cannot bear to be touched; while in a mental health treatment facility, he befriends a girl named Lisa (played by Janet Margolin) who has a split personality.

David and Lisa received positive reviews from critics. It was made into a stage play in 1967, and into a television film in 1998, produced by Oprah Winfrey.

David and Lisa is one of the DVDs we can see at Stars Hollow Video in “Richard in Stars Hollow”.

Note the implication from the Second Town Troubadour/Second Market Guy that Taylor must have serious mental health problems if he doesn’t want to be hugged. It’s just the start of the trolling that Taylor is about to be subjected to!

Floating Craps Game

LORELAI: Rory, you have to do something bad when Mommy’s out of town … . how about a floating craps game or something?

Craps is a dice game where players wage bets based on the outcome of rolling a pair of dice. A “floating craps game” is an illegal operation, so called because operators use portable tables and equipment to quickly move the game’s location, thus staying ahead of legal authorities. The 1950 musical Guys and Dolls features a floating craps game.

Bye, Bye, Birdie

JESS: It’s really that big a deal?
RORY: What do you mean?
JESS: I mean, I know it’s got an ‘I’ve been pinned’ Bye Bye Birdie kind of implication to it, but it was just a bracelet.

Bye Bye Birdie, 1963 musical comedy film directed by George Sidney, based on the award winning 1960 Broadway musical of the same name, with music by Charles Crouse, lyrics by Lee Adams, and book by Michael Stewart.

Set in 1958, the story was inspired by Elvis Presley’s draft into the US army in 1957. Jesse Pearson plays Conrad Birdie, a teen idol based on Elvis, his name a play on Conway Twitty, Presley’s rival at the time.

Conrad Birdie is giving a farewell performance in Columbus, Ohio, to end with his song, “One Last Kiss”. It is arranged for him to kiss a randomly chosen high school girl at the end of the song before going into the army. The teenager chosen is Kim MacAfee (played by Ann-Margret) from the town of Sweet Apple, but Kim’s boyfriend Hugo Peabody (played by Bobby Rydell) isn’t thrilled, as he and Kim have got “pinned” – he’s given her his fraternity pin to wear, indicating a serious commitment between them. When Birdie kisses Kim in a rehearsal, she swoons.

Elvis Presley himself was the first choice for the role of Birdie, but his manager Colonel Tom Parker wouldn’t allow it. The film helped make Ann-Margret such a star that in 1964 she appeared with Elvis himself in Viva Las Vegas.

Jess is saying that Rory and Dean are the small-town teenage sweethearts, and he is the sexy outsider. It seems slightly egotistical, and a bit demeaning to Rory, as if he has randomly chosen her for a meaningless encounter; it strongly suggests Jess doesn’t intend to stick around.

The film ends with Hugo knocking Birdie out before he can kiss Kim on stage, which might be what Jess is expecting from Dean – that he’ll punch Jess before he gets a chance with Rory. In the stage musical, the story continues with Kim going off to hang out with Birdie, and he is arrested for attempted statutory rape. Kim claims to have been intimidated by Birdie, and gladly returns to Hugo.

Quite a few warnings for Rory in this apparently casual reference! Foreshadowing, on multiple levels.

The reference to Birdie being about to go into the army makes me wonder if this reference was originally meant for Tristan, who went off to military school. Jess is much more of a Birdie than Tristan, however.

Mel Brooks

LORELAI: What do you mean, why? The 2000 Year Old Man, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie – you don’t think Mel has earned the right to have his face on my butt?

Mel Brooks (born Melvin Kaminsky in 1926), actor, comedian, and film-maker, with a career spanning over seven decades. He is known as the creator of broad farces and parodies, considered some of the greatest comedy films ever made, and was one of the most successful film directors of the 1970s. As well as winning an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar, in 2001 he won a Tony Award for The Producers, previously discussed. He has been awarded a Kennedy Center Honor, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, a British Film Institute Fellowship, a National Medal of Arts, and a BAFTA Fellowship.

The 2000 Year Old Man is a comedy sketch created by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks in the 1950s and first publicly performed in the 1960s. Brooks plays a 2000-year-old man, interviewed by Reiner in a series of comedy routines that were turned into a collection of records and also performed on television.

Young Frankenstein, 1974 comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks, and co-written by he and Gene Wilder, who stars in the title role. It’s a parody of the various classic horror film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein, in particular, the 1931 film version. Young Frankenstein was the #3 film of 1974 and received critical acclaim. It is considered one of the funniest comedies ever made, and was later made into a stage musical. Mel Brooks considers it his best, but not his funniest, movie.

Silent Movie, 1976 satirical comedy film co-written, directed, and starring Mel Brooks as a Hollywood director down on his luck. He and his sidekicks, played by Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman, come up with a plan to make the first silent movie in forty years. The film itself is silent, with intertitles instead of spoken dialogue. The film received positive reviews, and remains highly-regarded.

The Barrymores

CHRISTOPHER: So, quaint evening of theater last night.
LORELAI: Ah yes, the Gilmore family players rival the Barrymores for their sophisticated dramatic productions.

The Barrymores are a famous family in the acting profession. The patriarch of the family was Herbert Blythe, known professionally as Maurice Barrymore (1849-1905), a British stage actor. His children were Lionel (1878-1954), Ethel (1879-1959), and John Barrymore (1882-1942), who all became famous American actors of stage, screen, and radio. All three were inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, and Ethel’s six decades on stage earned her the title “The First Lady of American Theatre”.

John Barrymore is the grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore (born 1975). The Drew family after whom she is named are related to Maurice’s wife Georgiana Drew, and they also have strong acting traditions.

[Picture shows Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore circa 1930s]

Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller, Producers

RORY: Yeah. Oh, and later I pictured you marrying Matthew Broderick, and we lived in New York in this great apartment in the village and we would talk about his Ferris Bueller days.
LORELAI: Just think how easy Producers tickets would be to get.

Matthew Broderick (born 1962), actor who began his career in theatre in the 1980s, winning a Tony Award for his role in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. His first starring role in a hit film came in the 1983 WarGames, where he had the lead role as a teenage hacker.

Broderick had the lead role as the charming school truant in the 1986 teen comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off [pictured]. Directed by John Hughes, the film is a joyful love letter to the city of Chicago, and about three teenagers seeking the best “day off” from school ever devised. It was the #10 film of 1986, and praised by critics. It is considered one of the greatest teen movies of all time.

The Producers is a musical with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, adapted from Brooks’ 1967 film of the same name. It is about two theatrical producers who plan to get rich by fraudulently overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Their scheme becomes complicated when their play is an unexpected success. The Producers opened on Broadway in 2001 and closed in 2007. Lorelai is apparently having trouble getting tickets for the musical. It went on tour in the US in September 2002, arriving at the Bushnell Theatre in Hartford in August 2004, but Matthew Broderick was not in the touring version.

Rory imagines living in New York in the village with her mother and Matthew Broderick. In 1997, Broderick married actress Sarah Jessica Parker. They live in the West Village in New York City, suggesting that it was after this date that Rory fantasised about Matthew Broderick as her stepfather, so around the age of 14-15. (Broderick and Parker actually spend more time at their second home in Ireland).

Rory’s imaginary stepfathers include a man-child who lives in a fantasy world, and an actor famous for playing both a slacker and a scammer. Not very different from her real father, then …