Two Fat Ladies

LORELAI: There’s always something on. Uh! Struck gold!
RORY: Not Two Fat Ladies again.
LORELAI: Why not? They’re brilliant.

Two Fat Ladies, British cooking show originally broadcast on BBC2 from 1996 to 1999. The show centred on the titular ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, travelling around the UK on a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle – registration N88 TFL (88 is “two fat ladies” in bingo calling, the origin of the show’s name) – and a Watsonian Jubilee GP-700 “doublewide” sidecar. Paterson was the one driving the motorcycle, with Dickson Wright in the sidecar.

Two Fat Ladies was frequently repeated in the US on the Food Network, and the Cooking Channel. The show came to an end, because as Lorelai notes, one of them passed away. This was Jennifer Paterson, who died of lung cancer in 1999, one month after diagnosis. Clarissa Dickson Wright died in 2014, from pneumonia.

Rory, who is apparently tired of watching all of the repeats of the show pleads, “Can’t we find some other really fat people to watch?”, to which Lorelai responds, “Wow, that sounded a little insensitive” (really, Lorelai? But you’ve got the sweetest kid in the world!).

Fat jokes? Insensitive comments? Without even looking, I knew this episode must have been written by Daniel Palladino.

Jag

RICHARD: And drive behind me. I don’t want that thing blowing up right in front of the Jag.
DEAN: No problem. Try to keep your electrical system working long enough to get there.

Jag is short for Jaguar, a luxury British vehicle company headquartered in Coventry, originally founded in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company. The current name was chosen in 1945. It holds royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, and has manufactured cars for the British Prime Minister.

There isn’t a good shot of Richard’s Jaguar, it’s behind Rory’s car. I have been informed by a trustworthy source that the car appears to be a Jaguar XJ6 sedan, possibly a 1974 model, based on its hood ornament, chrome bumper bar and paint colour. That’s a classic car known for its performance and superb handling.

Dean mocks it for being unreliable, probably because the 1970s XJ6 sold to the US market is notoriously difficult and expensive to restore and maintain, due to its complexity and numerous issues with the electrics. However, Richard is later shown to be very interested in old cars and has a lot of money (and a chauffeur … hey, whatever happened to Lance, anyway?), so he would be well positioned to take care of an old Jag properly.

You can see Richard is being slightly hypocritical about Rory’s car, since his own vehicle is old, and probably has more safety and reliability issues than the one that Dean has rebuilt.

A Plane That Looks Like Shamu

LORELAI: Dean, now that you’re done with that, will you build me a plane? One that looks like Shamu?

Shamu is the name given to various killer whales (orcas) at Seaworld parks. The first Shamu was captured in 1965 and died in 1971. Her name means “friend of Namu” – Namu was a male orca captured in 1965, named after a fishing port in British Columbia, Canada, close to his site of capture. The whales named Shamu were always the “star” of the killer whale show.

In 1988, Southwest Airlines designed a plane called Shamu One, a Boeing 737 painted to look like a killer whale, to promote travel to Seaworld in Texas.

Southwest Airlines ended their relationship with Seaworld in 2014, after the release of the 2013 documentary Black Fish focused on the mistreatment of orcas in captivity. In 2016, Seaworld discontinued its orca breeding program.

Rory’s Car

DEAN: Your car.
RORY: No!
DEAN: Finished it yesterday.

The car that Dean rebuilds and gives to Rory is a pale blue 1961 Dodge Lancer sedan. A rebuilt Dodge Lancer would cost around $10 000 today, so it’s a significant gift, quite apart from all the work he’s put into it.

We now discover that even though they broke up on the night he told Rory he was giving her a car, Dean has continued to work on it. It seems that Rory and Lorelai have been kept informed about his progress, because they seem excited, but not surprised about it, and Lorelai seems to have already given permission for it to go ahead.

Richard’s unease with Dean giving Rory the car is probably not only the safety issue (and no car from 1961 is going to be as safe as a modern one), but because it is inappropriate as a gift from a teenage boyfriend that Rory has only been seeing for about a year (and was broken up with for three months). He may have handled it badly, but Richard has a point.

The day with Richard now becomes an unmitigated disaster, and it’s all thanks to Dean. He just shows up with the car, rather than call ahead and make sure that it’s alright. He also ignores the fact that when he arrives, Richard’s car is out the front, so he knows that they have a guest, and can probably guess who it is. Does Dean actually deliver the car that night on purpose, as a way to show Richard that he isn’t a useless waste of space, and to rub it in how special he is to Rory and Lorelai?

It’s a real slap in the face to Richard and Emily, who wanted to buy Rory a new car, but were not given permission to do so by Lorelai. It must hurt Richard that she instead gave permission for an unsafe old car, built by a teenage boy, and this no doubt informs a lot of his behaviour.

Monster Truck Rallies

LORELAI: Maybe Dean won’t even come tonight.
RORY: Oh, he’ll be there. There aren’t enough monster truck rallies in the world to keep him away from Miss Patty’s tonight.

A monster truck is a specially modified truck for competition and entertainment, given heavy duty suspension, four-wheel drive, and oversized tyres. Monster trucks developed in the late 1970s, and by the early 1980s were popular side acts at motocross events. Today monster trucks take centre stage at rallies, usually having races and stunt driving. In real life, there are regular monster truck rallies in Hartford and Bridgeport, so Dean wouldn’t have any trouble getting to one.

Somehow Dean has devolved from being a big city boy who liked classic films, Hunter S. Thompson, and Nick Drake into a country boy who likes BattleBots and monster truck rallies. How did he go from seeming pretty perfect for Rory into someone we barely recognise?

Volvo Sedan

LORELAI: Oh yeah. A Volvo sedan, are you kidding?
CHRISTOPHER: This is a great car.
LORELAI: For driving to bingo.

CHRISTOPHER: I’ve got Alpine head units, two subs, and two twelves. In exchange, no passenger-side airbag.

Volvo is a Swedish brand of luxury cars founded in 1927; the name is Latin for “I roll”. It was founded upon the concept of safety, and their cars have long been marketed as safe and reliable; many of the Volvo’s safety innovations have now become standard or even compulsory. Lorelai sees it as an old person’s car, because of its staid and rather boring image.

I think Christopher’s car is a 2001 Volvo S80, an executive sedan. He describes the car’s sound system as Alpine brand head units, with two sub woofers, and two twelve-inch sub woofers (maybe he means two amplifiers and two twelve-inch sub woofers?), which means he had to give up passenger-side airbags, a major feature of the S80. So he’s bought a safe car, and made it less safe (for the person who’s not him), so he can enjoy music.

As Lorelai notes, Christopher has given up his cool motorcycle for a sensible car, but the old (selfish) Christopher still lives. Take warning!

(There is an immediate shot of the Massachusetts license plate, to remind us Christopher has moved to Boston. It begins with 169, which seems like a naughty joke, although it’s not a vanity plate, so not deliberate on Christopher’s part).

Ichiro Motors

This is the Japanese business whose employees are staying at the Independence Inn in Stars Hollow for a conference in this episode.

It is a fictional motor manufacturing company which may have been named after Ichiro Suzuki (born 1937), the Japanese engineer who worked for Toyota and designed the first Lexus, as not only was he involved in the car industry, but his surname is that of a Japanese motor manufacturer.