Heather Mills

LORELAI: Hey, unh, Luke, uh, we need a couple of donuts, and, uh, some of those extra legs Heather Mills is sending over to Croatia.

Heather Mills (born 1968), English former model, businesswoman, and activist. She came to public attention in 1993 when her left leg had to be amputated below the knee after a motorcycle accident. However, she continued to model while wearing a prosthetic limb.

Mills set up a trust which sent prosthetic limbs to people (mostly children) who had lost limbs stepping on landmines. Because she went through several prosthetic legs while her stump healed, she also had the idea of delivering discarded prosthetic limbs to amputees in Croatia, the first ones arriving in 1994. They weren’t really “extra legs”, and they weren’t always legs either.

She married rock star Paul McCartney in 2000. They divorced acrimoniously in 2008.

The Donner Party

RORY: I never realized Luke’s was a hundred miles away.
LORELAI: We’re lucky it wasn’t snowing. It would’ve been The Donner Party all over again, but with slightly better hair.

The Donner Party, sometimes called The Donner-Reed Party (!!!!!), was a group of American pioneers who migrated to California from the Midwest in a wagon train. Delayed by a multitude of mishaps, they spent the winter of 1846–1847 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Some of the migrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating the bodies of those who had succumbed to starvation, sickness, and extreme cold.

Rescuers from California attempted to reach the migrants, but the first relief party did not arrive until the middle of February 1847, almost four months after the wagon train became trapped. Of the 87 members of the party, 48 survived the ordeal. Historians have described the episode as one of the most fascinating tragedies in California history and in the entire record of American westward migration.

This is the second reference the show makes to cannibalism during extreme survival in snowy mountains.

Tiny Tim, Gimpy

TAYLOR: You would kick Tiny Tim’s crutch out from under him, wouldn’t you?

LUKE: If he asks for a free cup of coffee, gimpy’s going down.

Timothy “Tiny Tim” Cratchit, a character from the 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. In the story, Tim is the young son of Ebenezer Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit, and a very sick boy who needs crutches to walk. Scrooge is shown that Tim will die in the future unless he receives medical help that Bob cannot afford on the salary he receives from Scrooge. This is one of several visions which cause Scrooge to reform, and the story states that Tiny Tim didn’t die, and that Scrooge became a second father to him (presumably paying for medical treatment).

Gimpy is a derogatory name for someone who walks with a limp. The slang dates to the 1920s, and may be a combination of gammy and limp, gammy being used to describe a bad leg.

Aryan Breeding

GAIL: She’s going to be beautiful.

SUSAN: Yeah, you and Christopher are like a poster for Aryan breeding.

Susan refers to Lebensborn e.V. (meaning “Fount of Life” in German), an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi German with the stated goal of increasing the number of children born who met the Nazi standards of “racially pure” and “healthy” Aryans, based on Nazi eugenics.

The Aryan race is an obsolete historical race concept that emerged in the late-19th century to describe people of Proto-Indo-European heritage as a racial grouping. There is no evidence to support this. By the 1930s, this false concept was used to promote white supremacist ideology, portraying so-called “Aryans” as the “master race” – ideas which formed part of the ideology which led to the Holocaust.

Appallingly, Susan implies white “Aryan” babies are naturally beautiful (even before they are born!). To add to the discomfort, she says this in front of Gail, who is black. I think this is meant to tell us just how awful Sherry’s friends are, and by extension, Sherry herself.

For Keeps

SHERRY: Well, then where’d you get your information on child raising? Your mom?

LORELAI: No, For Keeps. Uh, Molly Ringwald, Randall Bantikoff, really underrated little post-John Hughes flick. She went to the prom fat. I found it really inspirational.

For Keeps, a 1988 coming of age comedy drama directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Molly Ringwald and Randall Bantikoff as Darcy and Stan, two high school seniors who are in love. Darcy gets pregnant just before graduation and decides to keep the baby. It was Ringwald’s final teen movie, and is considered one of her most mature performances, especially in the scene where Darcy develops postpartum depression. (Like Rory, Darcy works on the school paper and plans to study journalism at college). The film was a box office success, and received mixed reviews, with the positive ones mostly for Ringwald’s performance.

As the film came out in January 1988, when Rory had already turned three, it’s hard to see how it could have “inspired” Lorelai during her pregnancy.

Note that this is another occasion when pregnancy and being “fat” are conflated, which is becoming a rather disturbing trend, and no surprise, this is another Daniel Palladino script.

Maui

LORELAI: [on phone] You just flew back on your jet, huh? . . . From Maui?

Maui is the second largest island of the state of Hawaii, famous for its beautiful beaches, and a very popular tourist destination.

While Lorelai actually says “Maui”, the audio doesn’t seem to quite match up. Apparently, she originally said “Bali”, an island in Indonesia which is also a popular tourist destination. “Eight O’clock at the Oasis” aired on October 22 2002 – just ten days after a bomb attack in Bali which killed 202 people and left 209 injured, on October 12 2002. Because of that, Bali was re-recorded as Maui.

Tiki Bar

RORY: Hey, how come we don’t have a tiki bar?

Once inside Dwight’s home, which Lorelai has done her best to turn into a place of imagined horrors, the Gilmore girls naturally love it at once. It has the same kitschy taste that they like, and I think they appreciate that Dwight has decorated the house completely for his own comfort and amusement, a design aesthetic that is in harmony with Lorelai and Rory’s own.

Dwight’s home bar is a tiki bar – that is, a bar inspired by tiki culture décor. Tiki culture is an American movement inspired by a romanticised view of tropical island cultures, mostly Polynesian, catering to American views of the South Pacific. The name comes from Tiki, the Māori name for the first human, often represented in the form of a pendant and frequently appropriated by Europeans as a commercialised good luck charm.

Although tiki bars are generally of broadly South Pacific influence, they tend to serve cocktails from the Caribbean. Because of its colonial nostalgia, and the simplistic view of the Pacific taken by the aesthetic, Tiki culture has been perceived as controversial, culturally insensitive, or racist.

Tiki culture became fashionable during the 1930s as a Hollywood-style image of a leisurely, exotic island lifestyle. It had an explosion of popularity after World War II, as American servicemen returned from tours of duty in the South Pacific, often with souvenirs. It began to decline in the late 1970s but there was a revival in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century, so Dwight is surprisingly on trend in owning a tiki bar.

Shamu

LORELAI: Well, I don’t know his name because I only knew him by his nickname . . . Uh, Shamu. We called him Shamu. He was kind of, um, a big guy in high school, but he’s slimmed down quite a bit.

Lorelai tries to find out Peyton’s name by phoning the organisers and pretending he’s an old school friend that she only knows by his nickname, Shamu. Shamu is the name given to several performing orcas at Sea World, previously discussed. It is a cruel nickname sometimes given to people perceived as being overweight, because orcas are also called killer whales (with the implication the person is as as fat as a whale). Despite the name, orcas are actually members of the dolphin family.

Luke Freaks Out Over Breastfeeding

LUKE: Why, why do they do this? This is a public place, people are eating here … This cannot be sanitary … When did that become acceptable? In the old days, a woman would never consider doing that in public. They’d go find a barn or a cave or something. I mean, it’s indecent. This is a diner not a peep show!

Luke is horrified when a woman nurses her baby in the diner. I have trouble accepting this “caveman” version of Luke, when he was depicted as intelligent and progressive in Season 1 – sometimes it feels as if the show couldn’t decide whether Luke was smart or stupid, progressive or reactionary.

He did tell Lorelai that he didn’t like small children very much, especially their messy, sticky side, and perhaps this is why he is having problems with seeing a baby fed, but it ends up being a judgement on the mother for putting on a “peep show” – therefore sexualising her need to feed her child, which is pretty creepy of Luke.

In Connecticut, women have been legally entitled to breastfeed in public since 1997, and it is prohibited for anyone to restrict or limit their right to do so. This includes restaurants and diners, so Luke has had five years to adjust to the law. As a responsible business owner, Luke would know of his legal obligations, and I don’t think he would behave like this, even if he did secretly feel a little uncomfortable.

As another mirroring scene, Jess is also shown being unable to handle seeing a woman breastfeed her baby. It’s not like this entire scene didn’t age well – it was outdated and unfunny at the time of first broadcast.

“Like I was Poland”

DEBBIE: Fend them off, change the subject!

LORELAI: I tried, Debbie, but they kept coming at me like I was Poland and they were Nazis.

Lorelai refers to the 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany, previously discussed.

Lorelai always calls anyone who stands in her way a Nazi or a Fascist – first Taylor and Headmaster Charleston, now it’s actual children. Lorelai has a disturbing tendency to verbally attack or insult teenagers, as if she was one of them.