At the end of S1E1, Lorelai and Rory are sitting in the diner and Lorelai says, “So tell me about the guy. Is he dreamy?” To which Rory replies, “Ugh, that’s so Nick at Nite.”
Nick at Nite, as its name implies, is a television channel that broadcasts on Nickelodeon’s channel overnight. Nick at Nite usually broadcasts old sitcom reruns, originally using shows from as early as the 1950’s. In the 1990’s Nick and Nite played shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “Bewitched,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Wonder Years” and “The Donna Reed Show.” Many Nick at Nite shows are referenced by both Lorelai and Rory throughout the series, indicating that they may have watched the channel frequently.
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.
In S1E1 when Lorelai and Rory arrive at their first Friday night dinner, Lorelai stops at the front door without knocking, causing Rory to comment, “Do we go in or do we just stand here reenacting ‘The Little Match Girl?'”
“The Little Match Girl” is a Hans Christian Andersen story about a little girl in poverty, forced to sell matches on the street to survive. One New Year’s Eve, she fails to sell any matches and is afraid to return home and face her father. She stays outside and eventually dies from the cold.
In S1E1, the day after Rory and Lorelai argue about Chilton, Rory meets Lorelai at the Independence Inn but is still acting cold toward her mother. Lorelai says, “Aw, you’re not going to give me the ‘Mommie Dearest’ treatment forever, are ya?”
“Mommie Dearest” is a 1981 film based on the real life of actress Joan Crawford. Joan, an unstable perfectionist actress, adopts two children. She is highly abusive, screaming at her daughter, beating her, cutting off chunks of her hair, and isolating her.
In S1E1, Rory freaks out and tells Lorelai that she might not want to go to Chilton after all. While the two are walking home, they run into Miss Patty, who tells Rory that she found a job for her “male friend.” Lorelai hasn’t heard about Dean yet, but Miss Patty adds, “Oh, he’s very cute. You have good taste,” so Lorelai knows he is the reason Rory changed her mind about Chilton. Rory starts walking away quickly to avoid confrontation, but Lorelai calls after her, “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!”
Flo-Jo is the nickname of Florence Griffith Joyner, widely considered the fastest woman ever. She set records for the 100 and 200 meter dashes in 1988.
In S1E1, Dean rather creepily tells Rory, “I’ve been watching you.” He backtracks and explains that he’s noticed her sitting under a tree and reading after school every day. “Last week it was Madame Bovary,” he says.
“Madame Bovary” is a classic novel by Gustave Flaubert. It was rather scandalous when it was published in 1856, because it details the main character, Emma, having multiple extramarital affairs. Emma eventually accumulates a massive amount of debt and commits suicide, and her husband dies soon after.
When Rory and Dean are walking to Miss Patty’s to find Dean a job, he asks her, “How are you liking Moby Dick? ” Rory says, “Oh, it’s really good. It’s my first Melville.”
“Moby Dick; or, The Whale” is a novel written by Herman Melville. Other “Melvilles” that Rory might have gone on to read include “The Confidence Man: His Masquerade” and “Pierre; or, The Ambiguities.” However, Moby Dick is by far the most well-known of Melville’s works.
Dean tells Rory his family just moved to Stars Hollow from Chicago. Rory responds, “Chicago. Windy. Oprah.”
This is just barely a cultural reference, but here goes:
Chicago isn’t really that windy, but according to urban legend, it earned the nickname “Windy City” because of all the hot-air-blowing politicians.
Oprah didn’t grow up in Chicago, but moved there in 1983 to start her job as a talk show host on what would eventually become “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
On Rory’s last day at Stars Hollow High, she drops a box full of the contents of her locker. As she’s crouched down to pick everything up, she is startled by Dean, who is just standing there staring. Rory exclaims, “God, you’re like Ruth Gordon just standing there with a tannis root. Make a noise!” Dean replies, “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Ruth Gordon was indeed an actress in the 1968 film, “Rosemary’s Baby.” She played Minnie Castevet, who gives Rosemary a tannis root charm as part of a satanic ritual. The exact scene Rory is referring to is not clear, as Minnie never stands over Rosemary with tannis root. She does look menacing when standing outside Rosemary’s door near the beginning of the film, however.
Lorelai and Rory are in the living room when Sookie walks in from the kitchen and asks, “Where’s your pate?” Lorelai replies (with no shortage of sass), “At Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house?”
Zsa Zsa Gabor is a celebrity and actress known for playing Jane Avril in the 1952 film, Moulin Rouge. She is well known for having had 9 husbands.
It’s unclear exactly why Lorelai chose to reference Zsa Zsa in regards to pate- possibly because Ms. Gabor was born in Hungary, where pate is more common than in the U.S. Lorelai might simply be referencing Ms. Gabor’s wealth and status, since pate is much more sophisticated than most of the food Lorelai keeps in her house.
It’s also very unclear why Sookie would ever think that Lorelai would have pate in the first place.