Child Psychology

This 1998 song by English indie rock band Black Box Recorder is the song which Rory and Lane listen to in Rory’s bedroom. Rory says she likes it because it makes her gloomy.

Child Psychology is from the band’s album England Made Me. It features a mixture of spoken word with a sung chorus, and the spoken word part describes negative incidents from childhood, such as refusing to talk, getting expelled from school, and parents arguing at Christmas.

The chorus has the line, “Life is unfair; kill yourself or get over it”, which led to it being banned on radio and on MTV. Released in the US just after the 1999 Columbine school massacre, the “kill yourself” part was played backwards to hide its content.

Once again, this shows Rory gaining satisfaction from the idea of suicide as an artistic and romantic solution, which is really starting to seem quite worrying. Perhaps it is supposed to be a typically teenage reaction to life, or just a streak of black comedy in the show, as suicide seems to be mentioned so often.

Pot Roast

LORELAI: One minute it’s, “Pass the pot roast”; the next minute it’s, “Hey, have a pile of money”. Things are never boring at the Gilmore house.

Pot roast is an American dish made by braising a piece of beef, then slow cooking it in a covered dish with liquid added that can be made into gravy. Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onions are commonly added as well.

The dish is a variation of the French dish boeuf à la mode, which was introduced by French immigrants to New England, and influenced by later German immigrants who also marinated and slow cooked roasts to ensure tenderness.

(The Gilmores didn’t really have pot roast that night, they ate rabbit.)

Lorelai is certainly right that being handed piles of money whenever you need them is part and parcel of being a Gilmore. She and Rory are supposedly struggling and working hard, but any time life gets a bit too tough you know someone will come along and bail them out financially.

Rory’s Car

After the anniversary dinner, Dean tells Rory that he is building her a car from a wreck; the seats and windshield were put in the day before. Rory is almost overwhelmed by this gesture, and it’s hard not to think that Dean has gone overboard on this three-month (yeah, right) anniversary.

At this point, the viewer has to feel that Dean is way more heavily invested in the relationship than Rory. Not only has has he kept track (no matter how wrongly) on how long they’ve been dating, he’s booked a fancy restaurant, and ordered pretty much everything on the menu so that Rory doesn’t need to choose, and now he announces he’s building her a car. He’s into hand-made gifts, but this isn’t a leather bracelet we’re talking about – it’s an actual car! (And there is a symmetry that their relationship both begins and ends with a gift from Dean).

Rory doesn’t seem to realise that this is a really huge present, which means that the other person clearly has major expectations of you and the relationship. The only big presents she’s ever got are from her mother and grandparents, and she accepted them as signs of their unconditional love. This is her first experience in a romantic relationship, and she’s about to learn that big gifts come with big strings attached.

Oblivious to what’s ahead, she looks up at the stars in wonder, as if, on this night dedicated to love and destiny, they have blessed her union with Dean the way they bless all young lovers in Stars Hollow. She feels that it’s a moment all too perfect to last, and she’s right, of course. Those distant stars are perhaps more ambivalent about love than she knows.

Gazebo at the Founders Firelight Festival

HARRY: People of Stars Hollow, and our many friends. It gives me great pleasure to preside over our annual Founders Festival for the thirty-second time. Many a true love has had it start right on the spot where I stand. And I don’t mind telling you that at this very festival, right by this gazebo, is where I met my own true love, Miss Dora Braithwaite. We have been married for 43 years, and it all started right here.

Harry Porter has been mayor of Stars Hollow since 1968/1969, and was married in 1957/1958. Harry’s statement emphasises the importance of the festival and gazebo in bringing lovers together, just as he met his wife there.

Bonfire

TAYLOR: No, no, Patty, you’re wrong. They built the fire to throw themselves on it when their families found them.
MISS PATTY: Taylor, you’re crazy! They built the fire so that they could stay warm their first night here.
TAYLOR: Patty, I am the recording secretary for the Stars Hollow City Council. I think I know how my town was founded!

Lighting a bonfire in the town square is the central focus of the Founders Firelight Festival. It seems to stem from a large fire made by the star-lit young lovers whom the town views as the founders – an earthly star to mimic the ones in the night sky.

However, the reason for the fire doesn’t seem to be known for sure. Miss Patty says they lit the fire to stay warm on a cold night, which sounds perfectly reasonable. However, Taylor believes that they lit the fire so that if their families tracked them down, they could throw themselves on it and burn themselves to death rather than be separated again.

The death-by-fire theory doesn’t seem very sensible (there are quicker and less painful ways to kill yourself, for a start), but it is a reminder of the mutual death met by those star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. It also shows the darker side of love, a fire that can burn and destroy as well as fill you with a warm glow.

It begs the question: does Stars Hollow commemorate a pair of lovers who found each other, and stayed happily together all their lives, or a pair of lovers who found each other, only to kill themselves to make sure they could never be parted again? Miss Patty’s story doesn’t tell us, as it ends with the boy and girl finding each other – what happened after that is never explained.

We probably presume they stayed together, and they and their descendants founded the town (hopefully joined by other like-minded folks at some point, or else the whole town came from the loins of two people, Adam and Eve style).

The alternative is that the town was founded by the grieving friends and family of the lovers, who regretted that they had driven them to suicide, and honoured their memory by founding Stars Hollow (like the Montagues and Capulets coming together after the death of Romeo and Juliet).

Is Stars Hollow a town built on romance and reunion, or grief and guilt? On life and love, or death and darkness? Whether Stars Hollow is magic or tragic seems to be a matter for debate, adding a gloomy lining to the silvery fairy tale of the star-blessed lovers.

The Stars Hollow Story

MISS PATTY: This, boys and girls, is the story of true love. A beautiful girl from one county; a handsome boy from another. They meet and they fall in love. Separated by distance and by parents who did not approve of the union, the young couple dreamed of a day that they could be together. They wrote each other beautiful letters. Letters of longing and passion. Letters full of promises and plans for the future. Soon the separation proved too much for either one of them to bear. So, one night, cold and black with no light to guide them, they both snuck out of their homes and ran away as fast as they could. It was so dark out that they were both soon lost and it seemed as if they would never find each other. Finally, the girl dropped to her knees, tears streaming down her lovely face. “Oh, my love. Where are you? How will I find you?” Suddenly, a band of stars appeared in the sky. These stars shone so brightly they lit up the entire countryside. The girl jumped to her feet and followed the path of the stars until finally she found herself standing right where the town gazebo is today. And there waiting for her was her one true love, who had also been led here by the blanket of friendly stars. And that, my friends, is the story of how Stars Hollow came to be, and why we celebrate that fateful night every year at about this time.

This is the foundation story of Stars Hollow, which is so romantic and magical that it immediately lifts Stars Hollow into the realm of fairy tale. It also gives special significance to the gazebo in the town square, which was built on the site of the young couple’s meeting, like a shrine to the power of love.

We know from the story that Stars Hollow is no ordinary place, but one founded by and constructed around love. There is something in the air which will always bring lovers together, no matter what obstacles stand in their way, or what trials they have to endure. The friendly stars above do not cross lovers, but light up the sky to show them the way and bring them together, creating a path to follow like the Yellow Brick Road, yet as warm and comforting as a blanket. Love here has the blessing of Heaven, focused upon the gazebo.

The Founders Firelight Festival is not a dull civic duty, but a joyful celebration of love which brings all the town together. In the scenes of the town preparing for the festival, you can see that Rory is one of the volunteers – smiling happily in the knowledge that she is a beautiful young girl who has found her own handsome lover, just like the town founders.

Nosy Townsfolk

Luke and Lorelai discuss painting the diner, and bond as Luke reveals some of his family’s history with the diner, which used to be his father’s hardware store. Taylor leads a group of interested townies to spy on them, although there’s nothing to actually see as they haven’t started painting yet.

This will become a well-worn running gag that the inhabitants of Stars Hollow will turn out en masse to stick their nose into anyone’s business, even if it isn’t very interesting. They have a special fascination with Luke and Lorelai, demonstrating that they are the “power couple” of the show.