S1:E1 – “Pilot”

Welcome to Stars Hollow! Rory and her spunky mom, Lorelai, navigate boys and private school in the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls.

PCR count for this episode: 33
Jump to: Pop Culture References | Soundtrack | Episode Trivia



1. Hartford, CT
As in: “Yeah I’ve never been here before. Just, uh, passing through on my way to Hartford.”
You don't even understand how much we still miss the Whalers.

Ah, Hartford. Connecticut’s capital, the home of insurance tycoons and, formerly, the Whalers. This city is almost its own character in the world of the Gilmore Girls. It’s where Emily and Richard Gilmore live, where they raised Lorelai, and also the home of Chilton Preparatory, where Rory attends the latter years of her high school career. Also, it’s apparently thirty minutes with no traffic from Stars Hollow – a geography discussion you’ll likely hear much about in this reference guide. And it just so happens that Becky of our blogging team was born there at Hartford Hospital. This city is also boasts ownership of the houses of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, both of which you can tour.

2. Jack Kerouac
As in: “You’re a regular Jack Kerouac.”
Pass the peyote...

Jack Kerouac was known as a pioneer of the Beat Generation, a hippie movement of the 50s and 60s. His most notable work was On the Road, the result of multiple cross-country road trips with buddy Neal Cassidy. But the honest truth is that the more I researched this guy, the more I grew to dislike him. His official posthumous website touts only the positive aspects of his life, but forgets to mention that he was an accomplice in covering up the murderous act of a friend and died incredibly young from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol daily. So in the words of Rory, I’m officially labeling him a butt-faced miscreant and that is how he shall be known henceforth.

3. Mood Lipstick
As in: “It has no smell, but it changes colors with your mood.”
But does your hair stick to it when the wind blows??

Color-changing lipstick. Like a mood ring for your makeup. I’m not sure whether it’s more sad how popular this stuff once was or that it’s still being made. I’ll admit, I definitely had at least one of these in my teens and it most likely was something my mom found in an Avon catalog. If you’re curious, here’s some you can purchase to try that won’t break the bank.

4. RuPaul
As in: “RuPaul doesn’t need this much makeup.”
You better work, Cover Girl.

Long before RuPaul’s Drag Race was a thing, the world got to know RuPaul Andre Charles as the artist behind 1993’s hit “Supermodel (You Better Work),” and the video that looks like it could’ve been the opener to literally any 90s tv show. The always impeccably dolled-up RuPaul scored a modeling contract with MAC cosmetics, making Rory’s reference to her mom’s stuffed makeup bag particularly appropriate.

5. Macy Gray
As in: “I’m sorry, I lost my Macy Gray CD and I need caffeine.”
I'm stumbling right now, actually.

Have you ever tried to say goodbye, but you choke? Or try to walk away, and you stumble? Macy Gray was always just one of us, telling it like it is with that raspy, hearty voice. She was a radio staple at the turn of the century, so it’s not surprising that both Lorelai and Rory were getting moody to her hit “I Try” after a squabble with each other. And where is she now? BFF-ing it with Stephanie Tanner on the Netflix reboot of Full House… Seriously.

6. Officer Krupke
As in: “Look Officer Krupke, she’s right at that table. Right over there.”
West Side Story Regulatory Force.

Lorelai sure has that innocent “Who, me?” while batting her eyelashes at Luke look down pat, even in the first couple minutes of the Pilot. Probably a good thing that Luke is just crabby and not toting a night-stick around. Though, he’d make a good choice for the role of Doc in West Side Story; the one character not breaking out into snapping fits and sing-a-longs. Luke would never approve of such flamboyant behavior.

7. Drella
As in: “Hi, Drella. I was just wondering – could you be nicer to the guests?”
I'm just apologizing for this before you even click through...

So, fun fact: we weren’t sure whether or not to include this “reference,” as we’re not entirely sure that it is, in fact, a “reference” at all. Drella is, of course, in Gilmore World, the surly, sassy harp-player that Lorelai employs to play for guests at the Independence Inn. In real-life-land, “Songs for Drella” is a concept album by Lou Reed and John Cale, both formerly of the Velvet Underground. Is there a connection, there? We’re inclined to think so. (If you know Amy, give her an ask and report back!)

Additional fun fact: Alex Borstein, the actress who plays Drella, was originally approached to play the role of Sookie, and even appears in original footage from the pilot episode. Her contract with MADtv wouldn’t allow her to continue in the role, so on to Melissa McCarthy it went. And who could imagine it differently??

8. Eminem
As in: “If my parents still get upset over the obscene portion size of American food, I seriously doubt I’m going to make any in-roads with Eminem.”

Way back in 1999, the world was just getting to know Marshall Bruce Mathers (the 3rd) as Eminem (and Slim Shady) through his hit single, “My Name Is.” Working with Dr. Dre pretty much guaranteed he’d become a household name, but Lane was probably right – with lyrics detailing his experiences with drugs and crime, his shifty perspectives on the world and, uh, “loved ones,” Mrs. Kim was not destined to come around to American music as a result of The Slim Shady LP.

9. Lane’s Woodstock t-shirt
As in: “When are you gonna let your parents know that you listen to the evil rock music? You’re an American teenager, for God’s sake.”
It's a t-shirt doing double-duty.

…And so desperate times call for desperate measures, and what was an extreme music-lover like Lane to do besides change into her Woodstock t-shirt around the block from the hawk-eyed Mrs. Kim? For those not in the know, Woodstock was an iconic music festival held over three days in August of 1969, attracting an audience of 400,000 people. The list of notable performers is essentially endless: Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, The Band, Janis Joplin – and, of course, Jimi Hendrix, among so many others. For Season 1 of Gilmore Girls, Woodstock ‘99 had also just happened. This spin-off festival, held in Rome, New York, was attended by roughly 200,000 people and featured some of the biggest performers of the time – like the Counting Crows, The Offspring, Alanis Morrissette and the Dave Matthews Band. There was a lot of controversy surrounding chaos that broke out during and after Limp Bizkit’s set, but that’s what happens when you invite Fred Durst to the party.

10. Huckleberry Finn
As in: “For those of you who have not finished the final chapters of ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ you may use this time to do so.”
Remember the movie with JTT? Stop, you know you do.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the 1884 novel by Mark Twain, is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, further chronicling the exploits of the two (now-wealthy) friends. The novel is set in an era long-passed by the time of its writing and is often hailed as a scathing reflection on the racism of the antebellum South. A staple of English-class curriculum.

11. Painting one fingernail
You're killing me, Pinterest...

Why are these girls passing around this pot of nail polish and each painting a single finger nail? Or, it looks like, a stripe on each finger nail? If the answer is here on the internet, somewhere, it’s getting buried beneath a bunch of articles from 2013 about using glitter on the nail of your ring finger. Help me out if you know this one!

12. Slam book
As in: “Maybe it’s a love letter.” – “Or her diary.” – “Could be a slam book.”
Sweet Valley High. Sure, sure.

According to BuzzFeed, here’s a real slam book from 1982. (Also: Sweet Valley High.) Seems innocent enough. According to Wikipedia, slam books were a mostly junior-high thing, wherein a usually spiral-bound book or journal was passed around with a question written inside. The idea was simple: you get the book, you write down your answer to the question. Why do I need to consult Wikipedia? Because these examples are way nicer than any slam book I’ve ever heard of; a la Cruel Intentions and Mean Girls, these books were more often than not ways to trash-talk your entire school, anonymously, before Yik Yak was a thing.

(Maybe this is the kind of thing girl-gangs with sparkly stripes on their nails do? I’M DYING TO KNOW.)

13. Sookie’s Hair Knots
There's an embarrassing photo involved.

I’m sure this blog will find us admitting some things about our younger selves that we aren’t so proud of, so might as well rip the band-aid and get the embarrassment going. This photo is our co-writer Becky circa 2001 with none other than Sookie’s hair knot style. Not modeled after Sookie per say, but it’s living proof that this hairstyle was 100% on point for the time period. Enough said.

14. Mark Twain
As in: “There’s no way Mark Twain could compete with that.”
His name was Mark, he had a House.

One of America’s most-read authors and a long-time resident of Connecticut. A man who left his legacy all over the northeast from his stand-up comedy-esque speeches, to his many novels, and his iconic Hartford home. His books have been turned into movies, made their way into Rory’s Chilton graduation speech, and are so important to modern literature that I personally spent an entire semester-long english class on nothing but the works of Mr. Twain. My admiration for his satirical comedy has actually long out-weighed my love of his books. But frankly, I think it’s all about the crazy hair. I mean, he’s got like that Albert Einstein “I’m so smart I don’t need to use combs” thing going for him, right? I can dig it.

15. Harvard University
As in: “She can finally go to Harvard like she’s always wanted and get the education I never got, and do all the things I never got to do.”
Coffee and Cambridge and cardigans - oh my!

Get ready for A LOT of Harvard talk, Gilmore fans! The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is one of only eight Ivy League schools in the country, making the selection process pretty, well, selective. It also happens to be hard-working brainiac Rory’s college of choice. (There’s an excellent selection of coffee shops in nearby Harvard Square, so this seems like a pretty great fit for Rory on several levels.)

16. Britney Spears
As in: “I’m gonna be in a Britney Spears video?”
Hit me, baby.

Ah, the iconic first music video of Britney Spears. Cue short plaid skirts, exposed midriffs, and fuzzy pigtail scrunchies. Rory’s Chilton uniform certainly resembles the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” costume sensation, but Rory is no Britney. Even when Lorelai asks to hem the skirt so Rory doesn’t appear to be “swallowed by a kilt”, she gives in, but just barely. I guess Rory wasn’t destined to be a 90s pop star.

17. Stephen King
As in: “There are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I’d re-enact before I’d resort to that option.”
He's also a Red Sox season-ticket holder.

Novelist Stephen King, born September 21, 1947 is a master of all things terrifying and many, many things truly and grotesquely disturbing. With 60 novels and more than 200 short stories to his name, Stephen King has created some pretty shudder-worthy scenarios. Lorelai really, REALLY doesn’t want to ask her parents for money.

18. Zsa Zsa Gabor
As in: “Where’s your pate?” “At Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house?”
I want to write it phonetically, but that's a tall order...

So there is Zsa Zsa Gabor – actress, socialite, married nine times. And then there’s her house. You can read more about her life in her autobiography.

19. Rosemary’s Baby & 20. Ruth Gordon
As in: “You’re like Ruth Gordon, just standing there with the tannis root.”
Dean's into fixing cars and watching Mia Farrow? Come on.

Okay, so the tannis root is apparently something one can wear around their neck to ward off evil demons. Ruth Gordon plays Minnie, the occult participating neighbor of Rosemary, (Mia Farrow) who births the infamous devil baby. I’m not sure whether I find it believable that Dean knows this quote that Rory is sputtering at him in frustration while picking up her toppled locker remnants, but this serves as their meet-cute and the beginning of an awkward relationship.

21. Oprah
As in: “My family just moved here from Chicago.” – “Chicago. Windy. Oprah.”
Harpo Productions!

Who doesn’t know Oprah? Mega-popular talk-show host, actress, producer and professional money-donater Oprah Winfrey hails from– well. She hails from Mississippi, actually, but she relocated to Chicago, Illinois to host a television show called “AM Chicago” in 1983. The show gained such popularity with Oprah at the helm that it was expanded and renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1986 – and that’s how it stayed until its final episode in 2011.

22. Broadway
As in: “You should check with Miss Patty. She teaches dance, she was actually on Broadway once.”
Naughty, bawdy...

We both grew up only a stone’s throw from the bright lights of Broadway. I’m sure both of us still remember our first on Broadway show and our first trip to the city. From the Marques to the Virgin record store to the Naked Cowboy – is he still around? – the memories are limitless. These days we both live farther away from NYC so the trips are fewer and collectively we spend less time in Times Square, because really, once you’ve done it a few times you get over the crowds pretty quickly. But there really isn’t any other city in the world quite like it.

Fun fact: Liz Torres who plays Miss Patty was actually a Broadway performer in such shows as “The Ritz” and “Man of la Mancha”.

23. Moby Dick / Herman Melville
As in: “So, how are you liking Moby Dick?” / “Yeah, it’s my first Melville.”
A whale of a tale!

Rory later notes that reading Moby Dick as your first Melville is cliche. As someone who has not read anything by Melville, I’ll cut her some slack. Moby Dick, the infamous tale of Ishmael and the whale. You can buy the book here and read this classic tale yourself.

24. Madame Bovary
As in: “Last week, it was ‘Madame Bovary.’”
It doesn't sound particularly thrilling, no.

Written in 1856, Madame Bovary is the very first novel of famous French author Gustave Flaubert. In this story, a provincial doctor’s young wife is the 19th-century version of a partying wild-child, thanks to a lot of boredom over being a provincial doctor’s young wife.

25. Flo Jo
As in: “You’re gonna have to turn into friggin’ Flo Jo to get away from me!”
Run, Rory, run...

Florence Griffith Joyner, or Flo Jo as she’s affectionately known, is an olympic track and field champion. She was a motivational speaker and some of her quotes are pretty inspiring, like this one – “You’re dreams deserve a try…the sky’s the limit!” All that inspiration I felt reading about her turned incredibly sad when I discovered she died at age 38 from an epileptic seizure. But give her quotes a read, I think you’ll definitely find a few that strike a chord with you.

26. “He’d better have a motorcycle!”
As in: “If you’re going to throw your life away, he’d better have a motorcycle!”
He's got that long hair, slicked back... Oh, stop.

In other words, go hard or go home. The Badass Biker is definitely a media trope; he’s impossibly cool, impossibly tortured and impossibly alluring. (Think James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.) He’s also probably definitely not the guy you’re super-happy your 16 year-old daughter is into, especially if she’s thinking about giving up her dream-school because of him.

27. Mommie Dearest
As in: “You’re not gonna give me the ‘Mommie Dearest’ treatment forever, are you?”
Why can't you give me the respect I'm entitled to?

Here’s where the Hollywood gossip mill goes into overdrive. Real-life actress Faye Dunaway stars as other real-life actress Joan Crawford in the 1978 film Mommie Dearest. The film, released only a year after Crawford’s death, chronicles her allegedly militant lifestyle and horrendously abusive behavior toward her adopted children (one of whom wrote the book the movie is based on). Whether or not the tale is true is up for debate: there are plenty of folks who say it’s hogwash, and plenty who claim to have witnessed enough abusive behavior by Crawford to believe that it’s true. Either way, the film’s campy and melodramatic production values are enough to make it a tried-and-true reference in Gilmore World. Relatedly, this is what movie trailers were like in 1978.

28. The Little Match Girl
As in: “So do we go in or do we just stand here reenacting The Little Match Girl?”
This is a fun one. Really. Get ready to feel good.

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Anderson, also known for his stories The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina and many more. It’s a very sad story of a poor, young girl who is trying to sell matches on the street, falls ill because she’s afraid to go home and get a beating for not selling the matches, so she finds a place to hide and lights each match one by one while envisioning the face of her deceased grandmother who is in heaven. Eventually, she lights the last match and dies.

In my opinion, it’s a bit dramatic for Rory to compare herself and Lorelai to this poor child while standing outside Emily and Richard’s house before their first official Friday Night Dinner, but then, who are the Gilmores, really, without a flare for drama?

29. Menendez
As in: “Okay, look, I know you and me are having a thing here, and I know you hate me, but I need you to be civil, at least through dinner, and then on the way home you can pull a Menendez.”
Might want to rethink that offer, Lor.

This was an interesting one that felt like a super obscure reference, most likely because we were too young to really have known anything about it when it was happening. It’s referring to the Menendez brothers who murdered their parents for their fortune. The trials lasted over multiple years and the brothers are now serving life sentences in separate prisons and have not seen each other since their incarcerations. They’ve both married since being in prison…go figure.

30. Collector’s cup
As in: “Is that a collector’s cup, or can I throw it away for you?”

Who else remembers these?! A big thing in the 80s and 90s, collector’s cups were gimmicks employed by everyone from Burger King to your local gas station. We’re particular fans of the 1994 Disney-movie/Burger King roll-out. (Full disclosure: these are probably not entirely a thing of the past, but we’ll take any opportunity to talk about those BK glasses.)

31. MIT
As in: “We’re thinking of having her studied at MIT.”
Now entering Kendall Square!

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (or MIT) is another Cambridge, Massachusetts-based smarty-pants school– sorry, “private research university,” founded in 1861 and focused traditionally on the physical sciences and engineering, though it’s expanded to include such areas of study as biology, economics, linguistics and management. Perfect to study Rory and her apparently shocking height-genetics.

32. Internet startup
As in: “His Internet start-up goes public next month…”
He's so fancy...

There are so many “time capsule” phrases throughout Gilmore Girls that may or may not have the same meaning as they do now – and this one of them! In the year 2000, we were all breathing a sigh of relief that our somewhat-insane fear that no computer on earth would seamlessly make the jump from the year 1999 to 2000, resulting in total-world meltdown and possibly a robot revolution, hadn’t come true. Working at an internet startup sounded pretty ritzy and cool, but just weird and new-fangled enough that you probably didn’t know anyone doing it. Here, Richard was painting Christopher as a true innovator, on the cutting-edge of business.

33. Nick at Nite
As in: “So tell me about the guy. Is he dreamy?” “Ack, that’s so Nick at Nite.”
That's so MOM. Come on, Lorelai, you're better than that!

In 2000, Nick at Nite was showing reruns of I Dream of Jeannie, Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch, and I Love Lucy, to name a few. Shows we now consider full of the innocence of their era, the days where you couldn’t say anything remotely racy out loud. Lorelai referring to Dean as “dreamy” obviously strikes a chord with Rory that causes her to retaliate by calling her mom old-fashioned, but in a very GG style of course.

Nowadays you’ll find Nick at Nite showing Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Full House, and Friends. Sad, I know.

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“Where You Lead” – Carole King & Louise Goffin
As in: The theme song that welcomes us to Stars Hollow!
It's a remake, and we love it!

“Where You Lead” was originally written by Carole King (you’ll also know her as Sophie from the music shop) in 1970, about following her partner, a man she was in a relationship with. The song got a rewrite and a re-record in the mid-nineties to be reflective of King’s love and commitment to her daughter, Louise Goffin, who joined her in turning the solo track into a duet. So it really is about a mother and a daughter, and it really is the perfect theme song. (Like there was ever any doubt?) Find it on the official GG Season 1 soundtrack, Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls.

“There She Goes” – The La’s
As in: What’s playing as we zoom into Stars Hollow and follow Lorelai into Luke’s Diner for the very first time.
“There She Goes” is a 1988 single by British rock band The La’s. It’s a pretty simple tune, though there’s speculation that it’s really about heroin. The band gives a resounding “nah” to that one and asserts that, “It’s just a song about a girl you like but never talk to.” Hey, we’ve all been there. Hear it on YouTube.

“Heartland” by George Strait
As in: The song playing on the hayride Lane is forced to attend with a future Korean doctor.
The second I mentioned this song my southern-raised boyfriend started singing it in the living room, since it was such a popular song when he was in middle school. It’s a very patriotic song and you can watch the music video for it here. Then let us know how you feel about that pony tail ;-).

“Where the Colors Don’t Go” by Sam Philips
As in: The song in scene where Lorelai is looking at the photo of herself as a young girl in front of her parents house, which transitions into her arriving at the Gilmores’ to ask for the money for Rory to attend the Chilton school.
Sam Philips, born Leslie Ann Philips, is primarily known for being a 90s indie artist. She actually started her career in Christian music under her given name, but later transitioned her style and her name. She also did a little bit of film acting in the 90s, including Die Hard with a Vengeance. You can check out all her albums for yourself here.

Fun fact: Sam Philips was the composer for the entire series of Gilmore Girls. All those “la la’s” and guitar riffs you hear during scene transitions, etc.? Yup, they’re all her. And, she did the music composition for Amy SP’s “Bunheads” as well.

“I Try” by Macy Gray
As in: The song both Rory and Lorelai play in their respective rooms when they get into an argument with each other over Rory announcing she no longer wants to go to Chilton now that she’s been accepted.
Since you’ve already read about my feelings on Macy Gray earlier in the article, why don’t you watch the music video for the song here.

“My Little Corner of the World” – Yo La Tengo
As in: The outro! This is what we hear as we leave Lorelai and Rory sitting at Luke’s. (“Tell me about the guy.”)
A love song first written in 1960, “My Little Corner of the World” has been recorded by various artists over the years, including Anita Bryant, Marie Osmond and, of course, Yo La Tengo, whose 1997 version is included on (and the title-sake of) the official GG Season 1 soundtrack, Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls.

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×Check out Rory’s English teacher at Stars Hollow High – look familiar? If you’re a die-hard GG fan, you’ll recognize her as none-other than Crazy Carrie Duncan, Liz Danes’ high-school BFF and the girl Luke supposedly made out with under the bleachers. Oh, Crazy Carrie. (Oh, LUKE.)

×See Lorelai’s Connecticut license plate? It’s old! The new version debuted in 1999 (and, frankly, is much prettier).

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