Viewer’s Pop Culture Guide to Gilmore Girls


Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Sam Schiffl, Writer

Gilmore Girls is one of the most beloved 2000’s shows, chronicling the life of the mother-daughter duo, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. However, sometimes it seems like the characters are walking encyclopedias of pop culture knowledge, which makes it just slightly difficult to understand every worldly reference. But alas, don’t fret, because I have deciphered every pop culture reference made in the first episode, so that you can get the most of the comedic wit of this beautiful show.


“You’re a regular Jack Kerouac.” – Lorelai

This remark was made in just the first five minutes of the show as Lorelai is approached by a man while at Luke’s, the local diner and basically her second home. The man, who is clearly flirting with her, comments on how he is just “passing through” Stars Hollow–the town the show takes place in–on his way to Hartford. Jack Kerouac was an American novelist during the mid 1900’s. In this quote Lorelai is referring to the somewhat nomadic reputation that Jack Kerouac was in possession of.


“RuPaul doesn’t need this much makeup.” – Rory 

Responding to the absurd amount of lip gloss that Lorelai pulls out upon request, Rory is alluding to the famous drag queen RuPaul in regards to Lorelai just naturally having several different types of lip glosses on her person at a given moment.


“Look, Officer Krupke.” – Lorelai 

Officer Krupke is a character from the 1961 musical, West Side Story. Mirroring his tendency to attempt to put an end to the antics of the Sharks and the Jets–the two gangs the musical focuses on–the owner of the diner, Luke, always tries to convince Lorelai to decrease her otherworldly coffee consumption. In this scene, Lorelai is going back for another cup for Rory, and Luke originally refuses to comply in thinking that she was merely lying to get another cup for herself, provoking the “Officer Krupke” comment.


“Rory, if my parents still get upset over the obscene portion sizes of American food, I seriously doubt I’m going to make any inroads with Eminem.” – Lane 

Lane has extremely strict parents who tend to not allow her to have any connections to anything modern. Eminem, a rapper who was just rising to fame around the time the show takes place, would majorly fit into that modern category, hence Lane’s lack of hope in telling her parents that she is a fan of his music.


“Oh, well, there’s no way Mark Twain can compete with that.” – Lane 

This sarcasm was the result of hearing the details of the fancy nail polish some girls were using to paint their nails instead of actually doing the assignment in Rory’s English class. The assignment was pertaining to a novel written by Mark Twain, an American author born in 1835, whose works are apparently no match in entertainment for sparkly nail polish.


“Sookie, there are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I’d reenact before I’d resort to that option.” – Lorelai 

Richard and Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s parents, have a very shaky relationship with their daughter. It is for this reason that Lorelai would apparently rather reenact scenes from books of the renowned novelist, known for his immense ability in horror and thriller genres, than ask her parents to borrow money for Rory’s school tuition.


“Where’s your pâté?” – Sookie “At Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house.” – Lorelai

Pâté is a dish typically associated with wealth and luxury, crafted from forcemeat, or ground meat with various seasonings and add-ins. In accordance with this fancy food, Zsa Zsa Gabor was a Hungarian actress and socialite who died with a net worth of $40 million, which means pâté certainly would have been on her menu at some point in her life.


“You’re like Ruth Gordon just standing there with a tannis root. Make a noise.” – Rory “Rosemary’s Baby.” – Dean 

The 1968 psychological horror-drama film is apparently the first thing that comes to mind when startled by Dean, a future boyfriend of hers, as he walks up to her in the hallway while she is picking up her books from the ground. Ruth Gordon plays Minnie Castevet, a neighbor of the protagonist, Rosemary. Minnie first appears in the film when she is silently waiting outside Rosemary’s apartment door with pursed lips. Shortly after she gifts Rosemary a necklace containing a tannis root for good luck, however details throughout the movie suggest that the necklace doesn’t do its job very well. The ominous nature of Minnie at the start of the opening scene paired with shock Dean gives Rory offers a sort of mirroring to some extent.


“You’re gonna have to turn into Flo-Jo to get away from me.” – Lorelai 

Sparked as Rory is quickly walking away from Lorelai to dodge questions pertaining to the appearance of Dean in her life, Lorelai is referring to Flo-Jo, also known as Florence Griffith Joyner, who was a professional runner of the 1980’s and set numerous world records. 


“You’re not gonna give me the “Mommie Dearest” treatment forever, are ya?” – Lorelai

During this point in the episode Lorelai and Rory are in a fight due to Rory suddenly being unsure as to whether or not she actually wants to attend the prestigious prep school she was just admitted to. “Mommie Dearest” is a 1981 biographical film about a mother who adopts two children, but her life progressively gets worse for unrelated reasons she becomes abusive toward them. Lorelai is comparing the children’s attitude towards the mother in the film to Rory’s attitude towards her due to Rory’s coldness during that time.


“So, do we go in or do we just stand here reenacting ‘The little Match Girl’” – Rory 

During this scene, Lorelai and Rory are waiting outside Richard and Emily’s house for a dinner, however Lorelai is clearly prolonging their inevitably having to actually enter the house. “The Little Match Girl” is a Hans Christian Andersen story about a girl who is a match seller in a very difficult situation. Her father refuses to feed her unless she sells matches, so she ultimately burns his house down, steals his money for food, and gets burned at the stake for her crimes.


“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.” – Lorelai 

As Lorelai and Rory are still in their fight during this time, Lorelai suggests they hide their skirmish from Richard and Emily. The last line is referring to the Menendez brothers, who infamously killed their parents, and Lorelai is implying that that is an action Rory would like to imitate.


“Is he dreamy?” – Lorelai “That’s so ‘Nick at Nite’” – Rory

Lorelai is teasing Rory here about a guy that Rory presumably likes, while simultaneously trying to gather more information about the new fellow. “Nick at Nite” is a programming block on the tv channel, Nickelodeon. During this time “Nick at Nite” would air classics like Family Ties, Full House, Gilligan’s Island, and Three’s Company. In sitcoms such as these, referring to a boy as dreamy would certainly not be unheard of, which is the primary reason why Rory groups her mom’s comment with the program.