Hello, and welcome to the Gilmore Girls Reference Guide!
It isn’t the first of its kind, but I’ve never come across one that looked exactly as I would make it, so I figured why not create an excuse to watch one of my favorite shows. As anyone who is familiar with Gilmore Girls knows, the show is characterized by fast-paced dialogue and eclectic cultural references. I believe it’s these qualities that make it so engaging for so many viewers; not only is the writing warmhearted and funny, it’s quick-witted and worldly.
While the show’s sphere of reference is not without constraints (like its Northeastern US setting, its 2000s production dates, and the whiteness of its primary characters), it touches on a broad range of historical, pop cultural, political, and intellectual topics. I’ve been a fan of the show since I was in middle school, and a main source of appeal for me has always been these female characters who are seemingly so interested in everything.
I think many Gilmore Girls fans share a similar curiosity, and that’s where this reference guide comes in. This site exists for anyone who finds themselves wanting to fill in the blanks and expand their base of general knowledge as they watch the show. Read on for some more information on background and how I’ll be organizing the guide.
How to Read the Guide
It is sometimes a challenge to decide which references to include and which to omit, but I generally err on the side of all-inclusive. You may encounter some entries that seem self-explanatory (“The Virgin Mary?” you may think to yourself in season one, episode two, “Duh. Everyone knows who that is.”). My logic is that a) what is common knowledge to you may not be to someone else, b) you may learn something new about a person or thing that was already known to you, and c) you may see something in the show you hadn’t noticed before.
However, there are some areas this site won’t cover. Continuity errors and production trivia aren’t really my purview; I may include a bit of detail about actors or crew members, but I’ll mainly be sticking to references. I also don’t usually treat idioms as references, but feel free to ask in the comments if there’s something you’d like to know!
I will be writing a post for each episode and listing each reference from that episode one at a time. You’ll notice that I don’t always use the word “reference,” but sometimes “mention” or “feature.” For my purposes, these are defined as follows.
- reference – A character alludes to a real-life person, event, or piece of media, and it’s clear that some background knowledge is required to fully understand their meaning.
- mention – A name or title is mentioned, but there’s no underlying meaning supporting a joke. The person, event, or piece of media is essentially just name-dropped.
- feature – A piece of media or pop culture element is featured visually or aurally, and it may not be acknowledged explicitly through dialogue (sort of like Easter eggs).
A Few Notes on Sources
If I quote directly from a source, I will include a link to the original source page; otherwise, the information I supply is easily searchable. This guide is meant to serve as a sort of cheat sheet, but I encourage you to crosscheck any of what I write here. If you do come across a factual error, a broken link, or an outdated piece of information, please let me know! I rely heavily on Wikipedia for overview information, and if I’m ever financially able, I hope to return the favor by making regular donations to them.
In 2017, someone else started a project similar to mine called The Annotated Gilmore Girls, so I sometimes use that to double check my own reference lists. Gilmore Girls Soundtrack (a podcast and blog) has also been helpful to me in identifying some of the show’s more obscure tracks. However, it also seems to have stalled somewhere in the second season, with the last update being from 2017.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
In beginning my work on this guide, I’ve come to realize just how many references (however subtle) Gilmore Girls contains to the Revolutionary War and the colonial history of the United States. It is important and necessary to acknowledge the people whose lands were usurped when these events took place–though this is not a simple question.
The show is set in the geographic area we call Connecticut (an anglicized form of the Mohegan-Pequot word for “long river,” in reference to the Connecticut River). Prior to colonization, the region was home to many small but distinct Indigenous groups who, though they spoke related languages and shared cultural similarities, each had their own leadership and territories. However, as European epidemics and warfare encroached on their lives and lands, they were increasingly compelled to merge in order to survive (Chatham Historical Society). Today, their descendants often share heritage from more than one of the original nations, and Indigenous territories have changed and overlapped significantly over time (Native Land).
Additionally, Stars Hollow is a fictional town, and while the show contains references to many real-life locations that can be used as reference points, it isn’t completely consistent. According to one source, however, Stars Hollow might exist somewhere in the vicinity of Meriden, Connecticut. As such, it is my best guess that the bulk of the show takes place in the territory of the Podunk, Wangunk, Tunxis, Sicoag, and Poquonook peoples to the north (around Hartford) and the Wappinger, Quinnipiac, and Paugussett peoples to the south (around New Haven and the possible Stars Hollow).
The Revolutionary War was a war between colonizers, and the result established a nation where nations had already existed for thousands of years. The outcome, for Indigenous populations, was not “freedom” or “liberty,” but an invasion that would gradually overtake their homelands from the Altantic Ocean to the Pacific, bringing genocide and dispossession in its wake. Today, only two of Connecticut’s peoples (the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan) are recognized by the Federal government, and only three (the Eastern Pequot, Golden Hill Paugussett, and Schaghticoke) are recognized by the state (National Conference of State Legislatures).
Recognized or not, the various Indigenous peoples of the region have endured, and they live, thrive, and carry on their cultural traditions to this day. To learn more about Connecticut’s Indigenous past and present, see a list of resources at ConnecticutHistory.org. This acknowledgment was written with guidance from the Native Governance Center’s webpage. I’ve done my best with it, but if it’s in need of any adjustment or correction, feel free to let me know.
As a rule, none of my posts will contain Gilmore Girls spoilers beyond whichever episode that post is about. However, there may be spoilers for books, movies, or TV shows that are referenced on the show.
Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. (Journal of Science and Technology Law)