Season One, Episode One: “Pilot”

Season 1, episode 1: “Pilot”
Original air date: October 5, 2000
Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
Written by: Amy Sherman-Palladino

IMDb summary: “Rory is accepted into the elite Chilton prep school. Bad news for Lorelai: she must make amends with her parents to borrow the money for Rory’s tuition. The money is available–with strings attached” (IMDb).

Indigenous Land Acknowledgment: 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

feature – 00:00
“There She Goes” by the La’s
Episode context: The opening title card appears. Lorelai walks to Luke’s Diner, and we are introduced to the town of Stars Hollow.
— This song is the best-known track by English rock band the La’s. It was originally released in 1988 as a single and was later included on the La’s self-titled album (their only studio album) in 1990.
— The song became a pop music staple of the ’90s, appearing on the soundtracks of films like Girl, Interrupted (1993), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), and the remake of The Parent Trap (1998). Sixpence None the Richer released a cover version in 1999.

reference – 01:20
JOEY: I’ve never been here before. Just passing through on my way to Hartford.
LORELAI: You’re a regular Jack Kerouac.
— Jack Kerouac (born Jean-Louis Kérouac, 1922-1969) was a US author best known for his 1957 novel On the Road, a roman à clef based on his travels with his friends across the continental United States.
On the Road “is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use” (Wikipedia).

reference – 02:15
RORY: God, RuPaul doesn’t need this much makeup.
— RuPaul Charles (born 1960) is host and producer of RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-present) and is one of the world’s most famous and commercially successful drag queens.

mention – 02:20
RORY: I lost my Macy Gray CD, and I need caffeine.
— The CD that Lorelai pulls out of her bag is Macy Gray’s 1999 album On How Life Is.
— Macy Gray is featured again in this episode at 32:25.

reference – 02:30
LORELAI: What? It’s not for me, it’s for Rory, I swear.
LUKE: You’re shameless.
LORELAI: Look, Officer Krupke, she’s right at that table, right over there.
— Officer Krupke is a character from the musical West Side Story, which centers on a rivalry between two 1950s teenage street gangs. In one musical number, “Gee, Officer Krupke,” one of the gangs mocks their killjoy neighborhood cop, along with all other authority figures who attempt to explain or correct their behavior.
West Side Story debuted on Broadway in 1957, and a film adaptation (directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the latter of whom directed and choreographed the original stage production) was released in 1961. I’m categorizing this entry under Film & Television for the sake of convenience.

feature – 03:25
“Where You Lead” by Carole King and Louise Goffin
Episode context: This song serves as the series theme for all seven seasons.
— The original version of this song featured lyrics by Toni Stern and appeared on Carole King’s 1971 album Tapestry.
— King rerecorded the song with her daughter, singer-songwriter Louise Goffin, specifically for use as the Gilmore Girls theme. They reworked the lyrics, which had originally focused on a romantic relationship between a woman and a man, to be about the bond between a mother and a daughter (Buzzfeed).

reference – 07:20
RORY: 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.
LANE: Rory, if my parents still get upset over the obscene portion size of American food, I seriously doubt I’m going to make any inroads with Eminem.
— Eminem (born Marshall Mathers III, 1972) is a US rap artist. His lyrical content has made him a controversial figure in music, especially in the era during which this episode was written. His first high-profile release, The Slim Shady LP (1999), “contains cartoonish depictions of violence and heavy use of profanity” (Wikipedia) and prompted allegations of misogyny and homophobia against him.

feature – 07:30
Lane pulls on a Woodstock ’99 t-shirt as she and Rory walk together to Stars Hollow High School.
— Woodstock ’99 was the second music festival after Woodstock ’94 to attempt to emulate the original festival of 1969. It was held in the city of Rome in upstate New York from July 22-25, 1999. Performers included Alanis Morissette, Creed, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
— MTV covered the festival extensively and portrayed it as being marred by excessive heat, price-gouging vendors, fires, and sexual assault; protests and lawsuits against festival organizers followed. Some individuals, including Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, took issue with the media’s depiction of the event as generally angry and violent, arguing that this narrative arose from anti-youth sentiment.

mention – 08:15
ENGLISH TEACHER: For those of you who have not finished the final chapters of Huckleberry Finn, you may use this time to do so.
RORY: And [the nail polish] smelled like bubblegum when it dried.
LANE: Oh, well, there’s no way Mark Twain could compete with that.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by US author and humorist Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910). It was published in the UK in 1884 and the US in 1885, and is considered a “Great American Novel.” The novel is narrated by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a teenage boy who accompanies a runaway slave on his journey along the Mississippi River.
Jill Brennan, who plays the English teacher in this scene, and Jacqui Maxwell, who plays the snarky girl who sneaks a peek at Rory’s paper, both reappear as different characters later in the series.

mention – 13:40
LORELAI: This is it. She can finally go to Harvard like she’s always wanted, and get the education that I never got, and get to do all the things that I never got to do, and then I can resent her for it, and we can finally have a normal mother-daughter relationship!
— Harvard University is a private Ivy League school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a couple of hours’ drive northeast of the show’s location in Connecticut.
— In the United States system of collegiate athletics, regional schools make up what are called conferences, and conferences make up divisions, of which there are three. The Ivy League is one conference, “comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States” (Wikipedia). The term is used more broadly, however, “to refer to the eight schools as a group of elite colleges with connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.”

reference – 14:10
RORY: I’m gonna be in a Britney Spears video?
— This is Rory’s quip when Lorelai gives her a plaid skirt. The music video she is alluding to is Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time,” part of which is set in a private school.
— The song was Spears’ debut single and was released in 1998 when Spears was just 16 years old. In 1999, it was included on her debut studio album of the same name.

feature – 15:10
Two portraits hang behind the reception desk at the Independence Inn. George Washington is depicted in the painting on the right, but I was unable to identify the man on the left.
— George Washington (1732-1799) was a military general and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States. Today, his likeness appears on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. Washington was also a slave owner, and you can read more about his participation in and evolving attitudes toward slavery here.
— The Independence Inn is named for the American War of Independence, commonly known as the Revolutionary War. It was through this war that the Thirteen Colonies established independence from Britain and began their expansion deeper into the Indigenous lands of North America. Gilmore Girls is set in the state of Connecticut, and references to its colonial past are sprinkled throughout the show.

reference – 17:15
SOOKIE: Okay, can I say one more thing? I think it’s your only option.
LORELAI: Sookie. There are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I’d reenact before I’d resort to that option.
— Stephen King (born 1947) is a prolific and highly successful US author of “horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels” (Wikipedia). Lorelai does not allude to any title in particular, but with options like The Shining (1977), It (1986), and Misery (1987) to choose from, we take her point.

reference – 18:00
SOOKIE: Where’s your pâté?
LORELAI: At Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house?
— Zsa Zsa Gabor (born Sári Gábor, 1917-2016) “was a Hungarian-American actress and socialite. … Outside her acting career, Gabor was known for her extravagant Hollywood lifestyle, her glamorous personality, and her many marriages” (Wikipedia).
— Gabor’s sisters, Eva and Magda, also acted professionally. Gabor had nine husbands over the course of her life, including hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and actor George Sanders.

feature – 18:30
“Where the Colors Don’t Go” by Sam Phillips
Episode context: A worried Lorelai looks at a row of family photos on her mantelpiece. The scene transitions to Lorelai sitting on the running board of her Jeep, drinking a to-go coffee outside her parents’ house. Emily opens the front door, and the song stops abruptly. At 22:15, after Lorelai reluctantly agrees to a Friday night dinner with Richard and Emily, the song resumes, and the scene closes.
— From the 1991 album Cruel Inventions. Phillips also composed the Gilmore Girls score and gave voice to the “la la la”s we Gilmore fans all know so well.
— In addition to her role as Emily on Gilmore Girls, Kelly Bishop is known for playing the mother of Jennifer Grey’s character, Baby, in Dirty Dancing (1987). Bishop also played Fanny Flowers on Bunheads (2012-2013), another show by Amy Sherman-Palladino.

reference – 22:30
RORY: And we get to wear uniforms. No more having people check you out to see what jeans you’re wearing ’cause everyone’s dressed alike in boring clothes and just there to learn.
LANE: Okay, there’s academic-minded, and then there’s Amish.
— The Amish “are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins” (Wikipedia). The Amish are known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology, though adherence to these principles varies among different subgroups of Amish. Over 98% of the world’s Amish population resides in the United States.
— According to The Annotated Gilmore Girls, the books Rory removes from her locker in this scene can be identified as The Second Sex (originally published as Le Deuxième Sexe in 1949) by Simone de Beauvoir, Mistress of Mellyn (1960) by Eleanor Hibbert, and Chikara! (1984) by Robert Skimin. All I see is blur.

reference – 23:10
RORY: God! You’re like Ruth Gordon just standing there with the tannis root. Make a noise.
DEAN: Rosemary’s Baby.
RORY: …Yeah!
DEAN: Well, that’s a great movie. You’ve got good taste.
— Rory is impressed that Dean caught her reference to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968). In the film, Ruth Gordon’s character, Minnie, foists a “good luck” charm containing the fictive tannis root upon her neighbor, Rosemary (Mia Farrow).
— The film is based on Ira Levin’s 1967 novel of the same name. Levin is also the author of The Stepford Wives (1972).

reference – 23:30
DEAN: My family just moved here from Chicago.
RORY: Chicago. Windy. Oprah.
— Oprah Winfrey (born 1954) is a US media mogul and television host. From 1986 to 2011, she hosted the talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois.
— There is no definitive explanation as to why Chicago is nicknamed the “Windy City.” Historians and etymologists surmise that the moniker probably began as a literal reference to the winds that blow off Lake Michigan, and later came to refer figuratively to “Chicago’s bloviating residents and politicians, who were deemed to be ‘full of hot air'” (History).

reference – 23:50
DEAN: Lorelai. I like that.
RORY: It’s my mother’s name too. She named me after herself. She was lying in the hospital thinking about how men name boys after themselves all the time, you know, so why couldn’t women? She says her feminism just kind of took over. Though personally I think a lot of Demerol also went into that decision.
— Demerol (meperidine) is an opioid medication prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Like other narcotics, it can affect mood and behavior.

feature – 25:30
For a very brief moment as Dean and Rory are walking away from Stars Hollow High, we can see a sign congratulating the school sports team, the Minutemen, for their victory in the 1997-98 division championships.
— Minutemen were citizens of the British colonies who “independently organized to form militia companies self-trained in weaponry, tactics, and military strategies… They were known for being ready at a minute’s notice, hence the name” (Wikipedia).

mention – 25:45
DEAN: So how are you liking Moby-Dick?
RORY: Oh, it’s really good.
DEAN: Yeah?
RORY: Yeah, it’s my first Melville.
DEAN: Cool.
RORY: I mean, I know it’s kind of a cliché to pick Moby-Dick as your first Melville, but… Hey, how did you know I was reading Moby-Dick?
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by US writer Herman Melville. The book tells of “the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the giant white sperm whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee” (Wikipedia). Moby-Dick is Melville’s most famous work, and one of literature’s most famous; it is considered a “Great American Novel.”

mention – 26:15
DEAN: After school, you come out, and you sit under that tree there, and you read. Last week, it was Madame Bovary. This week, it’s Moby-Dick.
Madame Bovary (originally Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners) is the 1856 debut novel of French author Gustave Flaubert. In the book, “the eponymous character lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life” (Wikipedia).

feature – 29:20
“Heartland” by George Strait
Episode context: The hayride rolls past Lorelai and Rory, and Lane sits glumly with her date and his brother.
— From the 1993 album Pure Country.

reference – 30:10
LORELAI: Oh, you’re gonna have to walk faster than that. You’re gonna have to turn into friggin’ Flo-Jo to get away from me.
— Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith-Joyner (1959-1998) was a US track and field athlete. She is considered the fastest woman of all time based on her world records set in 1988 for the 100m and 200m.
— Griffith-Joyner became a popular athletic figure in the late ’80s due to her record-setting performances and bold fashion choices–in particular, her running suits, accessories, and nail designs. Beyoncé paid tribute to Griffith-Joyner for Halloween of 2018 by “recreat[ing] the distinctive look [Flo-Jo] wore during the 1988 Olympic trials” (Vox).

feature – 32:25
“I Try” by Macy Gray
Episode context: Rory and Lorelai both independently play this song after parting ways after their fight. Rory is in her bedroom, and Lorelai is in the living room.
— From the 1999 album On How Life Is. This is the album that Rory complains about having lost, and Lorelai admits to having stolen, at 02:20.

mention – 32:50
SOOKIE: Oh god, I killed a Viking! Oh, you should fire me, or make me take the cost of a new stove out of my paycheck.
LORELAI: Well, whatever you want.
SOOKIE: I can’t pay for a new stove, those things are expensive!
— Viking Range is a US producer of residential and commercial kitchen appliances. They introduced professional-grade appliances to home use in 1987.

reference – 33:15
LORELAI: Aw, you’re not gonna give me the Mommie Dearest treatment forever, are you?
Mommie Dearest is a 1978 memoir and exposé about author Christina Crawford’s troubled upbringing by her adoptive mother, actress Joan Crawford. A film adaptation, directed by Frank Perry and starring Faye Dunaway as Joan, was released in 1981. Both book and movie depict Joan as narcissistic and abusive.
— The context doesn’t make clear whether Lorelai is referring to the book or the movie, but I’m guessing movie.

reference – 34:25
RORY: So do we go in, or do we just stand here reenacting “The Little Match Girl”?
— “The Little Match Girl” (originally Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne) is an 1845 short story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, “a poor young girl, shivering and barefoot, tries to sell matches in the street. … She huddles in the angle between two houses and lights matches to warm herself” (Wikipedia).

reference – 34:35
LORELAI: 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 Menéndez. Deal?
— Lyle and Erik Menéndez are two US brothers who were convicted in 1996 for the 1989 murders of their wealthy parents, media executive José and his wife Mary “Kitty” Menéndez.
— The case was one of several in the 1990s to become a national sensation, due in large part to the fact that the initial trial was televised.

reference – 35:35
RICHARD: Lorelai. Your daughter’s tall!
LORELAI: Oh! I know. It’s freakish. We’re thinking of having her studied at MIT.
— The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a world-renowned private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The school has produced many winners of prestigious awards in science and technology.
— In addition to his role as Richard on Gilmore Girls, Edward Herrmann is known for playing Max in The Lost Boys (1987) and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in multiple productions, including the film adaptation of Annie (1982).

reference – 42:30
LORELAI: Is he dreamy?
RORY: Ugh, that’s so Nick at Nite.
— Nick at Nite (stylized nick@nite) is a nighttime programming block that debuted on the Nickelodeon TV channel in 1985. Throughout its early years, the lineup included reruns of classic sitcoms like Dennis the Menace (1959-1963), The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966), My Three Sons (1960-1972), Mister Ed (1958-1966), and others. Sitcoms of this era could be described as wholesome and sentimental.

feature – 42:55
“My Little Corner of the World” by Yo La Tengo
Episode context: Lorelai and Rory sit opposite each other in the window of Luke’s Diner. Cut to closing credits.
— From the 1997 album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.
— This song was originally recorded in 1960 by former beauty queen, orange juice brand ambassadress, and homophobic activist Anita Bryant. It was released on the album of the same name.

References Consolidated by Category


  • 13:40 – Harvard University
  • 35:35 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Brand Names

  • 23:50 – Demerol
  • 32:50 – Viking Range

Famous Figures

  • 02:15 – RuPaul Charles
  • 18:00 – Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • 23:30 – Oprah Winfrey

Film & Television

  • 02:30 – West Side Story (1961)
  • 23:10 – Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  • 33:15 – Mommie Dearest (1978)
  • 42:30 – Nick at Nite


  • 15:10 – George Washington
  • 25:30 – the Minutemen


  • 01:20 – On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • 08:15 and 10:50 – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • 17:15 – Stephen King
  • 25:45 – Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville
  • 26:15 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • 34:25 – “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen



  • 22:30 – the Amish


  • 30:10 – Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith-Joyner

True Crime

  • 34:35 – Menéndez murders

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