In S1E18, Paris asks Rory for feedback on her “manifesto” for their mock government project. Rory says, “My first thought, lose the word ‘manifesto.'” Paris asks, “Too ‘Cabin in the Woods?'” Rory answers, “Don’t open your mail.”
This is a reference to the Unabomber, aka Ted Kaczynski. In 1958, when he was only 16, he began studying at Harvard. Several years after earning his PhD, he became a recluse, living in a cabin in rural Montana while trying to become self-sufficient. He started sending out mail bombs in 1978, and continued for almost two decades before being arrested by the FBI. His manifesto, in which he calls for people to fight against “the system,” is actually what got him caught: he mailed it to The New York Times and said he would stop sending mail bombs if they published the letter. They did, and Kaczynski’s family members recognized the writing and contacted the FBI.
In S1E15, Christopher announces to Lorelai, after a disastrous night at her parents’, that he wants to marry her. She freaks out, at one point yelling, “Charlie Manson is freaked out by you right now!”
Charles Manson led a cult-like group of followers to commit 9 murders in California in 1969. He thought he could start an apocalyptic war with the murders, supposedly. As of 2016, he is still alive in prison, serving multiple life sentences.
In S1E11, Rory is telling Lorelai about Paris’ parents divorce. She says, “Her dad’s like this bigwig at a major pharmaceutical company, and they’re printing all the sordid details about it in the paper.” Lorelai asks, “Oooh, how sordid?” Rory responds, “Well, it’s not the Rick James incident, but Hugh Grant should be feeling pretty good about himself.”
The “Rick James Incident” refers to the musician, who was imprisoned for several crimes he committed while high on crack. In 1993, he and his girlfriend kidnapped a woman and held her hostage for several days. James also assaulted a woman that same year while out on bail.
In 1995, Hugh Grant was arrested for having sex in public with a prostitute. Public opinion of him remained favorable after the incident because he immediately owned up to it as a mistake.
In S1E11, Rory and Lorelai are going to go ice skating. Rory tells Sookie, “I’m Nancy Kerrigan,” and Lorelai says, “And I’m Tonya Harding. I’m going to do the whole ‘shoelace coming untied, nervous breakdown, let me start again’ act.”
Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were rival figure skaters during the 1990’s. Harding’s ex-husband and bodyguard hired someone to attack Kerrigan in 1994, but Kerrigan recovered and went on to win a silver medal in the 1994 Olympics. According to Harding, she knew about the attack ahead of time but her ex-husband threatened to kill her if she reported the plan.
The whole “shoelace” act occurred at the 1994 Olympics. Tonya Harding had a problem with her shoelace during the free skate competition, and after failing her first jump, she reported the problem to the referees and was allowed to start over after fixing her lace.
In S1E10, Luke watches Lorelai come up with excuse after excuse not to see her father, who is in the hospital. Once Rory and Emily go in to see Richard, Lorelai struggles to think of a reason to stay outside. Luke says, “So who are you gonna go find now? How about Jimmy Hoffa? That’ll keep you busy for a while.”
Jimmy Hoffa was an activist and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union who disappeared in 1975. Hoffa was supposed to meet with two mafia leaders in a restaurant parking lot, but they never showed up. Hoffa was seen driving away from the meeting location with another man. Investigations did not reveal Hoffa’s fate, but he was legally declared dead in 1982.
In S1E10, Dean talks to Lorelai for the first time since he and Rory accidentally stayed out all night. Dean asks Lorelai, “So, am I like, public enemy number one with you?” Lorelai replies, “Number one? I don’t know. Would you settle for top five? ‘Cause I’m still a little hot for that crazy bomber guy who’s been living in a cave for a year.”
Lorelai is probably referring to Eric Rudolph, who would have been in the news frequently during the late 90’s and early 2000’s as one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives. He perpetrated four bombings from 1996-1998 and then hid in Appalachian forests until 2003 when he was finally caught. Rudolph didn’t actually live in caves, but when this episode aired in 2000, the media may have been speculating that he was hiding in a cave.
In S1E1, after Rory spends the whole day being sassy and rude to Lorelai, Lorelai finally pleads with her, “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.”
Erik and Lyle Menendez brutally shot and killed their parents in their Beverly Hills home in 1989. The brothers were 18 and 21 years old. After almost a year of lavishly spending their deceased parents’ money, Erik confessed to his psychologist, and both brothers were arrested. They were convicted in 1994.