Season One, Episode Fourteen: “That Damn Donna Reed”

Season 1, episode 14: “That Damn Donna Reed”
Original air date: February 22, 2001
Directed by: Michael Katleman
Written by: Daniel Palladino

Summary: A viewing of The Donna Reed Show touches off an argument between Rory and Dean about women’s roles. When Lorelai loses track of a baby chick Rory is hosting for a school project, she summons Luke for help.

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. Please visit the main page to view the results of my research and read the full acknowledgment.

All References in Chronological Order

reference – 00:00
Episode title: “That Damn Donna Reed”
DEAN: So, who’s Donna Reed?
RORY: What!?
LORELAI: You don’t know who Donna Reed is? The quintessential ’50s mom with the perfect ’50s family?
RORY: Never without a smile and high heels?
LORELAI: Hair that, if you hit it with a hammer, would crack?
RORY: She did do the whole, like, milk-and-cookies, wholesome, big-skirt thing, but aside from that, she was an uncredited producer and director on her television show, which made her one of the first woman television executives.
— Donna Reed (born Donna Mullenger, 1921-1986) was a US actress. In her career of over 40 years, she had roles in over 40 films, most notably Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Fred Zimmerman’s From Here to Eternity (1953); her performance in the latter earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
— Reed is also known for her television work on The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966). Contrary to Lorelai and Rory’s mocking interpretation of the character, Reed’s on-screen proxy, Donna Stone, is considered to be “more assertive than most other television mothers of the era” (Wikipedia). Responding to feminist critiques of the character, Reed said, “I felt that I was making, for women, a statement. This mother was not stupid. She wasn’t domineering, but she was bright and I thought rather forward-thinking, happily married.”
— After Reed signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1941, a studio publicist changed her stage name from “Mullenger” to “Reed” due to the anti-German sentiment of that period. Reed, herself, has said she never liked the new name.

feature – 00:10
DEAN: What are we watching?
LORELAI: The incomparable Donna Reed Show.
RORY: My favorite episode…
LORELAI: Mmm, tell me, tell me.
RORY: …is when their son, Jeff, comes home from school, and nothing happens.
LORELAI: Oh, that’s a good one. One of my favorites is when Mary, the daughter, gets a part-time job, and nothing happens.
RORY: Another classic.
DEAN: So, what’s this one about?
LORELAI: This one is actually quite filled with intrigue. The husband, Alex, comes home late for dinner, and he didn’t call.
The Donna Reed Show is a US sitcom that ran from 1958 to 1966. The aforementioned Donna Reed stars as a middle-class housewife and mother of two, married to a pediatrician. “Episodes revolve around the lightweight and humorous sorts of situations and problems a middle-class family experienced in the late 1950s and the early 1960s” (Wikipedia).
— “David Tucker writes in The Women Who Made Television Funny that most family sitcoms of the 1950s such as Father Knows Best, The Life of Riley, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet focus on the father figure with the mother as ‘adjunct’. He points out however that The Donna Reed Show ‘established the primacy of the mother on the domestic front’ and notes that Mother Knows Better was even briefly considered as the show’s title.”
— I was unable to determine what episode of The Donna Reed Show Lorelai and Rory are watching; if anyone out there knows, please leave me a comment!

+ reference – 02:00
RORY: [She’s] acting from a script.
LORELAI: Written by a man.
RORY: Well said, sister suffragette.
“Sister Suffragette” is a song from Disney’s 1964 musical fantasy film Mary Poppins. British actress Glynis Johns sings the song in her role as Mrs. Winifred Banks, a wife, mother, and advocate for women’s suffrage (i.e. the right to vote). The film takes place in London in 1910, 18 years before women in the United Kingdom would be granted the right to vote on equal terms with men. (The Representation of the People Act 1918 enfranchised all men over 21, as well as women over 30 who met property qualifications. It was not until the passage of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 that all women over 21 gained the right to vote.)
— The term “suffragette” refers to “members of the British Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only movement founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience” (Wikipedia) in pursuit of women’s suffrage.
Mary Poppins is based on the children’s book series by Australian-British author P. L. Travers. The first installment was published in 1934.

reference – 04:40
TAYLOR: You got trouble, my friends.
LORELAI: Right here in River City!
“Ya Got Trouble” is a song from Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man and its 1962 film adaptation directed by Morton DaCosta. In the song, “a smooth-talking, yet corrupt, traveling salesman…tries to convince the citizens of River City, Iowa, to fund his idea for a boys’ marching band by playing on their fears of youth corruption, represented by a new pocket pool table in the local billiard hall. The song is his slippery slope argument of what could happen should the citizens fail to recognize the danger and not follow his suggestion for a more wholesome activity” (Wikipedia).

mention – 06:00
RORY: So when do you guys leave for Martha’s Vineyard?
LORELAI: What’s going on?
RICHARD: Oh, your mother and I have just secured a place on Martha’s Vineyard.
— Martha’s Vineyard is an island located south of Cape Cod in the US state of Massachusetts. It is the third-largest island on the US East Coast, after Long Island, New York and Mount Desert Island, Maine. It is known for being a popular summer colony – a US term for “well-known resorts and upper-class enclaves” (Wikipedia) – where affluent families might own summer homes. Like many other summer colonies, the island’s economy is driven largely by summertime tourism, and the standard of living for year-round residents is significantly lower than that of their seasonal counterparts.
— The island was originally inhabited by the Wampanoag people and called Noepe, the “land amid the streams.” “There is no definitive source for [the name] ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ but it is thought to be named for the mother-in-law or daughter, both named Martha, of the English explorer Batholomew Gosnold, who led the first recorded European expedition to Cape Cod in 1602” (Wikipedia).
— The island was also home to one of the earliest known deaf communities in the US. At one point it even had its own form of sign language, a “village sign language” distinct from the national form, that was commonly used by both Deaf and hearing residents. Use of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language declined as residents migrated to the mainland, however, and no fluent signers remain today.

reference – 06:35
EMILY: We know that [Europe’s] there in the spring, but we never go in the spring because we always go in the fall.
LORELAI: It’s getting a little too Lewis Carroll for me.
— Lewis Carroll (born Charles Dodgson, 1832-1898) was an English author, illustrator, and poet best known for his 1865 children’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and the 1871 poem Jabberwocky. His works are commonly classified as literary nonsense, a genre of fiction “that balances elements that make sense with some that do not, with the effect of subverting language conventions or logical reasoning” (Wikipedia).

mention – 07:20
RORY: Catherine the Great – 1729 to ’96, Empress of Russia 1762 to ’96… Originally named Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst… Married to Grand Duke Peter of Holstein in 1754… The marriage was an unhappy one.
— Catherine II, otherwise known as Catherine the Great (1729-1796), “was the last reigning Empress Regent of Russia (from 1762 until 1796) and the country’s longest-ruling female leader. … Under her reign, Russia grew larger, its culture was revitalized, and it was recognised as one of the great powers of Europe” (Wikipedia). The period of her rule is also known as the Catherinian Era.

mention – 08:00
BABETTE: Morey just got a call to play a gig at the Village Vanguard tonight, so we gotta go to New York.
— The Village Vanguard is a jazz club located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. After opening in 1935, “the club presented folk music and beat poetry, but it became primarily a jazz music venue in 1957. It has hosted many highly renowned jazz musicians since then, and today is the oldest operating jazz club in New York City” (Wikipedia).

reference – 08:30
BABETTE: We got a kitchen full of food, and Morey just got cable, so you can watch those four girls talking dirty if you want to.
Sex and the City is a US romantic comedy-drama series that aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004. “It is an adaptation of Candace Bushnell’s newspaper column and 1996 book anthology of the same name. … Set and filmed in New York City, the show follows the lives of a group of four women–three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties–who, despite their different natures and ever-changing sex lives, remain inseparable and confide in each other. … The series had multiple continuing storylines that tackled relevant and modern social issues such as sexuality, safe sex, promiscuity, and femininity, while exploring the difference between friendships and romantic relationships” (Wikipedia).

reference – 09:10
LORELAI: Paul and Linda McCartney only spent 11 nights apart their entire relationship. Did you know that?
— Paul McCartney (born 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, and musician best known for his work as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter, and bassist for English rock band the Beatles. Linda McCartney (née Eastman, 1941-1998) was a US photographer and the first woman to have a photograph published on the cover of music magazine Rolling Stone. They were, by all accounts, a devoted couple and remained married from 1969 until Linda’s death from breast cancer in 1998. As to how many days and nights they spent apart throughout their relationship, there seem to be a few different numbers floating around the Internet. The figure of 11 that Lorelai cites is corroborated by a 1993 interview in which Paul told People magazine, “The only 11 days we ever did not spend the night together was when I got put in jail in Japan for pot” (People).

feature – 09:40
“Sunday Best” by Grant-Lee Phillips
Episode context: The town troubadour leans against a lamppost and plays this song on an acoustic guitar while Dean awaits Rory’s arrival at the bus stop.
— According to Wikipedia, this song was released as an Australian bonus track on Grant-Lee Phillips’ 2001 album Mobilize. I would normally include a link to the song, but I’m not finding it on YouTube; the lyrics are available, sans audio, on Spotify. Thanks to Gilmore Girls Soundtrack for the song identification.
— US singer-songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips was previously heard with his band, Grant Lee Buffalo, in episode five at 35:20. The current episode marks his first on-screen appearance as the Stars Hollow town troubadour.

feature – 10:15
Dean appears to be wearing a Nike sweatshirt during his argument with Rory over The Donna Reed Show.
— Nike, Inc. is a US multinational company headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon. “It is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment” (Wikipedia). The company’s name is a reference to Nike, the goddess of victory, from Greek mythology.

mention – 11:00
RORY: She made homemade doughnuts, chocolate cake, a lamb chop, mashed potato dinner, and enough stew to feed Cambodia all in one episode.
— Cambodia, officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in Southeast Asia. At the time of this episode in 2001, the country had a population of 12.35 million; it has risen to 16.95 million today (Wikipedia).

reference – 13:00
LORELAI: Hi. Your name is Stanley. Hi, Stanley.
RORY: It’s a girl.
LORELAI: Oh. Sorry about the Stanley thing. Your name is Stella. Stella’s nice, and Stella was married to Stanley!
SOOKIE: I like that name.
LORELAI: Oh, Streetcar Named Desire.
SOOKIE: Vivien Leigh or Jessica Tandy?
LORELAI: Hello? Tandy.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by Tennessee Williams. “The play dramatizes the experiences of Blanche DuBois, a former Southern belle who, after encountering a series of personal losses, leaves her once-prosperous situation to move into a shabby apartment in New Orleans rented by her younger sister [Stella] and brother-in-law [Stanley]” (Wikipedia).
— A film adaptation directed by Elia Kazan was released in 1951. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden all reprised their Broadway roles for the film, portraying Stanley, Stella, and Mitch, respectively. Jessica Tandy, who had originated the role of Blanche on Broadway, was replaced by Vivien Leigh, her counterpart from the London production of the play. When Lorelai calls for Stella, she is referencing this famous scene in which Stanley screams his wife’s name in the street.
A Streetcar Named Desire was obliquely referenced in episode nine at 05:35.

reference – 14:05
LORELAI: Now, if you wanted to do more warm, golden Tuscan countryside–
LUKE: Then I’d go to Italy.
— Toscana (English: Tuscany) is a region in central Italy known for landscapes characterized by rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards. Widely regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, it is also known for its “history, artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture” (Wikipedia).

+ mention – 20:10
LANE: I have discovered that, in addition to my lameness in geometry, I also will not become a biologist, French translator, or Civil War buff.
RORY: Well, I guess that just leaves bass player for the Foo Fighters.
LANE: I also wouldn’t rule out keyboardist in the Siouxsie and the Banshees Reunion Tour.
— Lane is referring to the US Civil War (1861-1865) waged “between the Union (states that remained loyal to the federal union, or ‘the North’) and the Confederacy (states that voted to secede, or ‘the South’). The central cause of the war was the status of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery into [additional] territories” (Wikipedia). In the end, the Confederacy was defeated, and the United States’ population of four million enslaved Black people won emancipation.
— The US rock band Foo Fighters (previously mentioned in episode twelve at 22:45) was founded by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl following the 1994 death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. The Foo Fighters became a global success in their own right, winning 12 Grammy Awards and gaining induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility (in October 2021). Nate Mendel has been their bass player continuously since 1995.
— Siouxsie and the Banshees are a British rock band founded in 1976. “They have been widely influential, both over their contemporaries and with later acts. … Initially associated with the punk scene, the band rapidly evolved to create ‘a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation'” (Wikipedia). The band broke up in 1996 but reunited briefly for the Seven Year Itch tour in 2002.

mention – 20:40
LANE: We have classic rock, progressive rock, pretty-boy rock–
RORY: Excuse me?
LANE: Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, the Wallflowers, Bush–
RORY: Got it.
— Bon Jovi is a US rock band variously characterized as glam metal, arena rock, pop rock, and heavy metal. It was formed in 1983 and named for its vocalist Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi (the singer) has also had acting roles in film and on television shows like Sex and the City (1998-2004), Ally McBeal (1997-2002), and The West Wing (1999-2006). He was ranked among the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” and named “Sexiest Rock Star” by People magazine in 1996 and 2000, respectively.
— Duran Duran (previously featured in episode six at 23:45) is an English new wave band that formed in 1978. “When [the band] emerged they were generally considered part of the New Romantic scene,” and they later became “a leading band in the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US in the 1980s” (Wikipedia).
— The Wallflowers is a rock solo project of US singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jakob Dylan, formed in 1989. Dylan is the son of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and model Sara Lownds.
— Bush is a British rock band formed in 1992. They became one of the most commercially successful rock groups of the 1990s, though mainly outside their country of origin; their debut album is certified 6x multi-platinum by the RIAA. “One of the first bands to be described as post-grunge, Bush were labeled almost pejoratively as such” (Wikipedia) and were dismissed by some as Nirvana imitators.

mention – 21:05
LANE: Over there, we have jazz, jazz vocals, classical, country, rockabilly, Sinatra, the Capitol years…
— Frank Sinatra (born Francis Sinatra, 1915-1998) was a US actor and singer ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. Sinatra rose to fame in the 1940s, but by the early ’50s, his career was in decline as his teen “bobby-soxer” audience came of age and lost interest. “The Capitol years” refers to the revival of his career in the mid-1950s through early 1960s, when he was signed with Capitol Records. During this period, he recorded the albums In the Wee Small Hours (1955) and Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956), two of his most major releases.

mention – 21:15
RORY: William Shatner. Is this the one where he sings “Tambourine Man”?
LANE: And “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
— William Shatner (born 1931) is a Canadian actor best known for his role as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek franchise (previously mentioned in episode six at 04:50, episode eight at 08:40, and episode 13 at 13:00). The album Rory and Lane are discussing may be Shatner’s 1968 debut The Transformed Man, which does indeed include covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” These songs also appear on the 1997 compilation Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (1997), though neither album appears to be an exact visual match for the CD Rory holds on screen.
— Nimoy appeared alongside Shatner in Star Trek, playing the Vulcan character Spock.

reference – 22:10
LORELAI: This is unbelievable. All day long, just chirps like a maniac at the top of her lungs, and now, nothing. Silence. Marcel Marceau chicken.
— Marcel Marceau (born Marcel Mangel, 1923-2007) “was a French actor and mime artist most famous for his stage persona, ‘Bip the Clown’. He referred to mime as the ‘art of silence’ and he performed professionally worldwide for over 60 years” (Wikipedia). A sampling of his noiseless performances can be seen here.

reference – 22:25
LORELAI: Luke! Stella got out, and I don’t know, do I put seed on the floor, do I make cheeping sounds, or do I pull a Lucy Ricardo and walk like a chicken so she thinks I’m her mother?
— In the final season of the US television sitcom I Love Lucy (1951-1957), Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (played by real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) relocate from New York City to Connecticut. Once settled, they’re shocked at the cost of country living, and in the 1957 episode “Lucy Raises Chickens,” Lucy devises a scheme to profit from the sale of chickens’ eggs. Mishaps ensue, and before long, she has 500 baby chicks roaming loose around her home. She squawks and walks like a chicken – bending her knees and holding her arms like wings – in an attempt to coax the chicks from their hiding places and corral them back to one room.
I Love Lucy was previously mentioned in episode six at 06:40.

mention – 23:05
LORELAI: The last sighting was here by the InStyle magazine, but then she burrowed through the Glamour and jumped over the Cosmo and knocked over a brand-new bottle of nail polish.
InStyle (previously mentioned in episode seven at 37:00) is a monthly fashion, beauty, and lifestyle magazine published in the US by the Meredith Corporation and marketed toward women.
Glamour is a US magazine published by Condé Nast and marketed toward women. It was originally published in 1939 under the name Glamour of Hollywood before rebranding in 1943. It ceased print editions in 2019 and is now a solely digital publication.
Cosmopolitan, also known as Cosmo, is a US fashion and entertainment magazine marketed toward women. It includes dating and relationship advice and is especially known for its explicit sex tips. The magazine was previously featured in episode six at 37:10 and referenced in episode 10 at 23:40.

feature – 24:00
“Flower Girl From Bordeaux” by Esquivel!
Episode context: Rory has this song playing in the background at Babette and Morey’s house when she greets Dean wearing her Donna Reed outfit.
— Rory goes to Lane in search of a CD she describes as “the weird one,” and we catch a glimpse of the cover around 21:25. The CD in question, Music From a Sparkling Planet, is a compilation of tracks by Mexican bandleader and composer Juan García Esquivel, better known as simply Esquivel! Although the compilation album was released in 1995, the music represents a late 1950s/early 1960s genre variously described as easy listening, lounge music, or space age pop.

reference – 24:10
RORY: Honey, you’re home!
— “Honey, I’m home!” is a stereotypical television catchphrase harking back to the domestic sitcoms of the 1950s and ’60s. Though Rory reverses it, the greeting is usually made by a husband to his stay-at-home wife upon his return from work. (I Love Lucy‘s variation, “Lucy, I’m home!”, was referenced in episode six at 06:40.) The phrase is so evocative of this era of television that it became the title of the 1991-1992 classic-sitcom spoof, Hi Honey, I’m Home!, which aired on ABC as part of its TGIF lineup.

feature – 26:30
“Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares
Episode context: Rory has this song playing in the background as she and Dean finish eating dinner. Dean attempts to clarify his earlier comments about traditional housewives, and Rory shares the results of her research on Donna Reed.
— This song was written and composed by Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss. It was recorded twice before 17-year-old Fabares recorded her version in 1961, and it was her version that made the song a success; it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart when it was released as a single in 1962. Fabares is also best known for her role as Mary Stone, Donna Reed’s daughter on The Donna Reed Show.

mention – 27:10
DEAN: So… What’s for dessert?
RORY: Lime fantasy supreme.
DEAN: Which is…
RORY: Green Jell-O and Cool Whip.
— Jello is a brightly colored, translucent gelatin dessert that will retain its shape after being fitted to a mold. It was an especially popular dish in the first half of the 20th century. The word “jello” is the generic form of the brand name “Jell-O” from which the word is derived. The dessert was previously mentioned in episode 11 at 31:25.
— Cool Whip is a US “brand of imitation whipped cream, referred to as a whipped topping by its manufacturer, Kraft Heinz. … It was originally marketed as being ‘non-dairy’ [when it was introduced in 1966] despite containing the milk protein casein” (Wikipedia). It is sold in plastic tubs, rather than aerosol cans, does not require physical whipping, and resists melting over time. It is the most popular brand of whipped topping in the US.

reference – 28:50
RORY: I’d better get these dishes cleaned up.
DEAN: Oh, well, I’ll help.
RORY: Sorry, you’re a man. You can’t help for another 15 years.
— Rory is alluding to the shift in gender roles that occurred in the 1970s United States in conjunction with second-wave feminism. During this period, women enrolled in universities and entered professions in unprecedented numbers. As more women joined the workforce, the public and domestic spheres became less rigidly sex segregated, and it became more permissible for men to take part in household chores and child-rearing. Of course, an imbalance still exists – women outnumber men in today’s paid workforce but still perform almost twice as much unpaid domestic labor (Harvard Business Review).

reference – 32:35
LORELAI: It started with Rory’s baby chick getting loose in the house and ended with Rory and I up at one in the morning looking for Morey and Babette’s new kitten, who we found asleep in the piano.
SOOKIE: Wow. That’s very Wild Kingdom of you.
LORELAI: Yeah, I’m like the Marlin Perkins of Stars Hollow.
Wild Kingdom is a US wildlife and nature program that aired from 1963 to 1988. Zoologist Marlin Perkins hosted the show for most of its original run, but retired due to ailing health in 1985.

reference – 35:05
LORELAI: Okay, so now the fact that I suggested painting Luke’s diner also means that I wanted to get him in bed. All of a sudden, I’m trying to get any poor, unsuspecting person in bed with me! I’m like Michael Douglas!
— Michael Douglas (born 1944) is a US actor best known for his roles in Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1987), and Basic Instinct (1992). In 1992, Douglas underwent treatment for what was widely and persistently rumored to be sex addiction; he has denied being a sex addict and insists that the reason for his time in rehab was alcoholism.
— In 2018, journalist Susan Brady alleged that Douglas sexually harassed her when she worked for him in 1989.
— Although support programs do exist, the concept of sexual addiction is contentious, and it is not recognized as a valid medical diagnosis by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

feature – 35:45
Mystery music in the background of Friday night dinner.
— There is a classical piece playing in the background of Friday night dinner, as there was in episode 11 at 09:25. Once again, I can’t find any information on it and am left to assume that it’s uncredited production music, rather than commercial.

mention – 37:10
EMILY: The two of you must come up for the weekend. It is so lovely. Rory would just love it.
RORY: Can we go for a weekend?
LORELAI: We’ll see how much Valium Auntie Sookie can lend mommy.
— Valium (generic: diazepam) is a brand name medication commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and other disorders. “It has been one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the world since its launch in 1963. In the United States it was the best-selling medication between 1968 and 1982” (Wikipedia).
— Sookie’s slightly worrying penchant for pharmaceuticals was first made apparent in episode nine at 09:35.

reference – 37:35
LORELAI: I’m being morbid?
RORY: New subject, please.
LORELAI: Joan and Melissa Rivers here think I’m being morbid.
— Joan Rivers (born Joan Molinsky, 1933-2014) was a comedian, writer, producer, and actress. In 1986, she became the first woman to host a late-night network television talk show with the premiere of The Late Show with Joan Rivers. Her blunt, often abrasive style of humor was sometimes criticized as insensitive, and her material sometimes touched on controversial subject matter, such as the Holocaust. (It is worth noting that Rivers, herself, was Jewish.)
— Actress and television host Melissa Rivers (born Melissa Rosenberg, 1968) is the only child of Joan’s marriage to Edgar Rosenberg, who died by suicide in 1987. In 1994, Joan and Melissa portrayed themselves in the television docudrama Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, which tells of the aftermath of Rosenberg’s suicide and is described by Entertainment Weekly as “ghoulishly creepy.”

reference – 38:30
RORY: Each of us have to follow a chick through its entire growth process. Everything has to be logged: eating habits, sleeping habits…
LORELAI: Houdini habits.
— Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, 1874-1926) was a Hungarian-born “escape artist, illusionist, and stunt performer, noted for his escape acts” (Wikipedia).
— Houdini’s stage name is a tribute to the French magician and illusionist Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.

+ mention – 38:50
RORY: So, grandpa, when’s your next trip?
RICHARD: Uh, Madrid. The 12th.
RORY: Wow.
RICHARD: I think there’s a nice edition of Cervantes in it for you.
RORY: Gracias.
— Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) “was an Early Modern Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote,” (Wikipedia) which was referenced indirectly in episode seven at 16:15.
— Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain. Although Rory tells Richard, “Thank you,” in unaccented Spanish, Alexis Bledel has Latin American heritage (her father is Argentinian, and her mother was raised in Mexico), and Spanish is her first language.

feature – 40:20
“Beautiful Dreamers” by Grant-Lee Phillips
Episode context: The town troubadour sings and plays an acoustic guitar while crossing a street. He passes Luke and Lorelai as they unload paint cans from Luke’s truck.
— This song was released on Phillips’ 2001 album Mobilize. This is the town troubadour’s second appearance in this episode, the first being at 09:40.

feature – 41:55
LORELAI: Kill me and bury me with that bike.
RORY: What is it, a Harley?
LORELAI: That is a 2000 Indian 80-horsepower, five-speed, close ratio Andrews transmission, and I wanna get one.
— Harley-Davidson, also known as simply Harley, is a US motorcycle manufacturer. “Founded in 1903, it is one of the two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression along with its historical rival, Indian Motorcycles” (Wikipedia).
— Andrews Products is a US auto parts manufacturer specializing in camshafts and transmission gears.

References Consolidated by Category

Brand Names

  • 10:15 – Nike
  • 37:10 – Valium
  • 41:55 – Harley-Davidson
  • 41:55 – Indian Motorcycles
  • 41:55 – Andrews Products

Famous Figures

  • 00:00, 00:25, 28:20 – Donna Reed
  • 09:10 – Paul and Linda McCartney
  • 22:10 – Marcel Marceau
  • 35:05 – Michael Douglas
  • 37:35 – Joan and Melissa Rivers
  • 38:30 – Harry Houdini

Film & Television

  • 00:10, 00:40 – The Donna Reed Show
  • 02:00 – Mary Poppins (1964)
  • 04:40 – The Music Man (1962)
  • 08:30 – Sex and the City
  • 13:00, 21:50, 33:05 – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • 22:25 – I Love Lucy
  • 24:10 – “Honey, I’m home!” (catchphrase)
  • 32:35 – Wild Kingdom, hosted by Marlin Perkins

Geography & Politics

  • 06:00, 36:45 – Martha’s Vineyard
  • 08:00 – the Village Vanguard
  • 11:00 – Cambodia
  • 14:05 – Tuscany, Italy
  • 38:50 – Madrid, Spain


  • 02:00 – suffragettes
  • 07:20 – Catherine the Great
  • 20:10 – US Civil War
  • 28:50 – 1970s gender roles


  • 06:35 – Lewis Carroll
  • 23:05 – InStyle
  • 23:05 – Glamour
  • 23:05 – Cosmopolitan
  • 38:50 – Miguel de Cervantes


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