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.

Rory Discovers Her Bracelet is Missing

RORY: I don’t know where it is!
LORELAI: Where what is?
RORY: My bracelet – it’s gone.

Rory runs home in a panic to tell Lorelai that her bracelet is missing. Jess is listening in the background, and he now discovers that Rory’s bracelet was made by Dean, and given to Rory as a gift. Jess has a good poker face, but you can tell this does not come as welcome news.

Jess also learns that Rory thinks Dean will be angry when he finds out the bracelet is gone, and she appears frightened of his temper. This seems like such a red flag – why isn’t Lorelai concerned that her teenage daughter is actually scared of her boyfriend? Instead she soothes Rory, reassuring her that Dean won’t be angry, and he can easily make Rory another bracelet.

Despite Dean apparently being so great and understanding, Lorelai never suggests that Rory be honest with him and tell him the bracelet is missing. Why not, if there is nothing to fear from Dean’s temper? And why doesn’t Dean deserve to know the truth?

“White trash Hearst Castle”

LORELAI: I’ve never seen so much stuff. It looks like a white trash Hearst Castle in here.

Hearst Castle, estate of media magnate William Randolph Hearst, previously discussed.

Note Lorelai’s shocking implication to Luke that his nephew is “white trash”, said while Jess is just in the other room. Lorelai has said some truly awful things about Jess, a troubled teenager who is the nephew of a close friend. This isn’t even the worst one.

Puppy on the Christmas Card

LORELAI: I recognized you from your Christmas card.
CHRISTOPHER: Which I’m sure you mocked mercilessly.
LORELAI: Did not. Others, yes, but not yours. You guys were cute, and the puppy was cute.

Lorelai didn’t mock their card nearly as much as others, although she did say that Sherry looked like Tammy Faye Bakker. She so clearly doesn’t resemble Tammy Faye that I wonder if they had even cast an actress for the role at that point? Perhaps Sherry had a make-over for the photo shoot with a touch of Tammy Faye glamour to it.

The puppy is never seen or referred to again. Did they even have a puppy? Maybe they rented one for the photo shoot. Hopefully they didn’t get a puppy for Christmas and give it away in the New Year.