“Sherry’s pregnant”

CHRISTOPHER: Sherry’s pregnant … She just found out and she called me as soon as she found out, and that was her calling to tell me that she found out.

Christopher comes to see Lorelai who is standing on the bridge, waiting for him (another mention of bridges as significant emotional spaces). He tells her that Sherry has called him on his cell phone to tell him she has just discovered she is pregnant – I presume she used a home pregnancy testing kit, as it’s a Sunday.

Oddly enough, Lorelai says, “Women all over the world will line up to see that tiny little woman fat”. Sherry isn’t a tiny little woman, she’s only a few inches shorter than Lorelai, and Lorelai is slim as well. It makes Sherry sound like a stick-thin five foot tall waif, which she isn’t. Not to mention the bizarre thinking that equates being pregnant with being “fat”.

Apparently all the terrible problems Christopher and Sherry were having were not enough to stop them from having (unprotected?) sex. It does beg the question, did Sherry even know they were supposedly having problems and Christopher was thinking of moving out? Maybe all she did was go away on business for a month or so, and Christopher used that as an opportunity to weasel his way back in to Lorelai’s life, telling her some story about how he and Sherry were practically broken up.

As a huge slap in the face to Lorelai, Christopher is going back to Sherry because she’s having a baby. Christopher was never around while Rory was growing up, and he’s apparently never forgiven himself (zero evidence of that, but whatever). He can’t make that mistake again, so it’s back to his girlfriend that he doesn’t love, so he can be a father to their child. (This is actually a terrible basis for a relationship).

It doesn’t make any sense, because he could still be a good father to his second child without going back to Sherry (and I bet while telling her nothing of what he’s been up to with Lorelai in the interim). For that matter, he could have been a good father to Rory while not being with Lorelai all this time.

Notice that when Rory questions why her dad has a work phone call on a Sunday, he responds, “Hey, I have a lot of responsibility now”. Little did he know how true those words would turn out to be!

Writing Letters to Jodie Foster

LUKE: You know what people told me when I said you were coming here to live with me? They told me I was crazy, they told me I was insane, they told me to start writing letters to Jodie Foster.

Luke references John Hinckley Jr. (born 1955), a college drop-out from a wealthy family who attempted to assassinate president Ronald Reagan. Hinckley was reportedly seeking fame in a misguided effort to impress actress Jodie Foster (born Alicia Foster in 1962), with whom he had been obsessed since the 1976 film Taxi Driver, where Foster plays a sexually-trafficked twelve-year-old child – in the film, the disturbed protagonist plots to assassinate a presidential candidate (it’s based on a true story).

When Jodie Foster began attending Yale University, Hinckley moved to New Haven in order to stalk her, sending her dozens of letters and poems, and leaving messages on her answering machine. Believing that assassinating the president would somehow make him Foster’s equal, Hinckley fired a revolver six times at Ronald Reagan on March 30 1981, as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC. Although Hinckley did not hit Reagan, he was wounded when a bullet ricocheted and hit him in the chest. He also wounded a police officer and a Secret Service agent, and critically injured a press secretary, who died from his wounds in 2014.

John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, and transferred to psychiatric care. He was released from hospital in 2016 into his mother’s care under numerous restrictions. As of June 2022, Hinckley will be living freely in the community. He has a YouTube channel, where he self-publishes his own songs; they are also available on Spotify and other streaming sites.

Animal Planet

KIRK: I read an article in the paper recently that said that weddings are an excellent place to meet women.

LUKE: Well, if it was in the paper, it must be true.

KIRK: I hope so, ’cause I’m so damn lonely not even Animal Planet does it for me anymore.

Animal Planet, a multinational pay television channel owned by Warner Bros Discovery, originally a joint venture with BBC Worldwide, launched in 1996. It’s primarily focused on nature documentaries. It is ambiguous whether Kirk is using the channel as company, or pornography – the phrasing suggests the latter.

Annie Sullivan

SOOKIE: Oh, who listens to the lyrics?

LORELAI: Anybody not hanging out with Annie Sullivan by the water pump.

Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), the visually impaired teacher and lifelong companion of deaf, blind and mute student Helen Keller (1880-1968). She was the only person able to get through to Keller and help her learn to communicate with the outside world, and a result, both women became inspirational figures.

At first Sullivan made little progress with her student, until a breakthrough occurred when Sullivan held Keller’s hand under the water pump and repeatedly spelled out W-A-T-E-R into her palm. With great effort, Keller hesitantly said, “Wah-wah”, her first spoken word. Keller then touched the earth, asking for its name as well, and by the end of the day she had learned thirty words. It was the beginning of her learning to read, write, and speak.

These events are depicted in the film The Miracle Worker, previously discussed [pictured].

Jessica Hahn

LORELAI: Instead, I got pregnant. I didn’t finish high school, I didn’t marry your father and I ended up in a career that apparently Jessica Hahn would think was beneath her.

Jessica Hahn (born 1959), model and actress. She accused televangelist Jim Bakker of rape while employed as a church secretary. After the 1987 scandal, Hahn posed nude for Playboy, appeared in several television shows, including Married … with Children, and was a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show on radio in the 1980s through to the 2000s.

John Nash

RORY: That diploma hanging on the wall is going to make this all worthwhile, trust me.

LORELAI: I guess, unless I turn into John Nash and start drooling on people.

John Nash (1928-2015), mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations. His theories are widely used in economics. Nash is the only person to win both the Abel Prize and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Sciences.

In 1958, Nash began showing clear signs of mental illness and spent several years in psychiatric hospitals being treated for schizophrenia. His condition slowly improved in the 1970s, allowing him a return to academic work by the mid 1980s.

John Nash’s struggles with mental illness and his recovery were highlighted in the 2001 biographical film, A Beautiful Mind, directed by Ron Howard and based on the 1997 best-selling Pulitzer-winning biography of the same name by Sylvia Naser, with Russell Crowe starring as Nash. A Beautiful Mind was a commercial and critical success, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Largie Margie

EMILY: You know very well who Margie is. She’s been your father’s secretary since you were a child.

LORELAI: Oh, Largie Margie . . . very clever when you’re six.

Daniel Palladino didn’t even write this episode, and Lorelai is once again a horrible child. Her joke is moronic even for a six year old. Emily calls Margie a “rotund ingrate”, so you don’t need to look far to see where Lorelai got her attitude from.

The Little Locksmith

RORY: The Little Locksmith!

LORELAI: And I got it at the bookstore, paid full price.

The Little Locksmith, a 1943 memoir by Katharine Butler Hathaway about the effects of spinal tuberculosis on her life. Hathaway was kept immobilised, strapped to a board, for ten years in a failed attempt to save her from becoming a hunchback, like “the little locksmith” in their community that her mother treated as a figure of horror. When the treatment ended at the age of fifteen, Hathaway was a hunchback after all, and no taller than a ten-year-old child. Overcoming her physical limitations, and the boundaries prescribed by society, she went on to attend college, forge enduring friendships, become a writer, and buy her own house in Maine, which she fashioned room by room as a creative space for guests, lovers, and artists.

The book was reprinted in 2000 by The Feminist Press, which would be the edition Lorelai bought. The book has been praised, not only for its author’s determination to find physical pleasure and creative fulfilment in a life that could have been a tragedy, but also for her poetic, unique voice. This is another example of unconventional female biography and memoir that Lorelai and Rory enjoy reading, with Lorelai buying it as a joke since Rory is also “disabled” by her hurt wrist.

David Letterman’s House

LORELAI: Honey, you gotta ease up on that love potion you’ve been giving him or he’s gonna start showing up at David Letterman’s house soon.

In May 1988, David Letterman was stalked by a mentally ill woman named Margaret “Peggy” Ray, who stole his car, camped on his tennis court, and repeatedly broke into his house. Her exploits gained national attention, and Letterman joked about her on his show sometimes, but without ever naming her. Ray served 34 months in prison and psychiatric hospitals for stalking Letterman, but refused to continue her medication upon her release, and went on to stalk astronaut Story Musgrove. She killed herself in 1998. Both Letterman and Musgrove expressed sympathy for her – “A sad ending to a confused life”, said a spokesman for Letterman.

Another rather distasteful joke about mental illness and suicide, and the implication that it is somehow Rory’s “fault” that Dean is behaving so obsessively. There does seem to be a slight acknowledgement here from Lorelai that Dean’s behaviour is abnormal and unhealthy.

“Spastic polka”

LORELAI: I know, life with my mother, one step forward, five thousand steps back. It’s kinda like the spastic polka.

Spastic is an outdated term to describe people with cerebral palsy, a disorder often characterised by poor co-ordination, weak or stiff muscles, and tremors.

In America, using the words “spastic” or “spaz” to humorously describe awkwardness, clumsiness, hyperactivity, or nerdiness is not considered as shockingly offensive as it in other parts of the world. Lorelai’s comment here would be unacceptable in Britain, for example.

Polka [pictured] is a Czech folk dance which was all the rage in the mid-19th century – so much so that the phenomenon was called “polkamania”. Polka made a comeback after World War II, when many Polish refugees moved to the US. Lorelai and Rory own at least one CD of polka music.