In S1E4, Lorelai is arguing with Headmaster Charleston about his refusal to let Rory take a test. Lorelai says, “I thought this place was gonna be so great, and now I guess this goes on the ‘Boy was I Wrong’ list, right above gauchos but just below the ‘Flashdance’ phase.”
The “gauchos” that Lorelai is referring to are a style of pant, usually cropped at mid calf, with legs that flare out very wide. Gauchos were popular in the 1970’s and actually made a comeback in the 2000’s, just a few years after Lorelai first said this line.
“Flashdance” was a 1983 film in which an exotic dancer works to get into a dance conservatory. The movie currently has 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In S1E4, Lorelai is yelling at Max and Headmaster Charleston about their refusal to let Rory take her test, and she tells Max, “You say she’s smart and she’ll do fine, and this rotting, stodgy rathole could use somebody like her, and then you completely shut her out of a test she’s been cramming for, that she’s ready for, that she completely deserves to take!”
Max, keeping his cool, tells Headmaster Charleston, “I didn’t call this place a rathole.”
Lorelai says, “Oh no, that’s true. I added that. Wouldn’t want you to get in trouble with “Il Duce’ here.”
“Il Duce” refers to Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1942 (and Prime Minister before that, from 1922 to 1925). He is the founder of fascism. “Il Duce” means “the leader” in Italian. Mussolini led Italy to become one of the Axis powers in WWII. After being ousted by the King of Italy, he was eventually executed by Italian communists.
In S1E4, Lorelai walks past Drella playing harp in the lobby of the Inn, and Drella asks, “What do you think of Pat Benatar?” Lorelai responds, “Great idea, can she play the harp?” Drella had meant that she would play a harp version of a Pat Benatar song, but Lorelai willfully misunderstood her.
Pat Benatar is a rock singer who rose to fame in the late 1970’s. Some of her hits include “Love is a Battlefield,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”
In S1E4, Rory tells Lorelai that she kept her bad grade a secret from Lorelai because it was too humiliating. Lorelai puts her hand on Rory’s arm and says, “Oh honey… you once told me that you loved ‘Saved by the Bell.’ What could be more humiliating than that?”
“Saved by the Bell” is an NBC television show that ran from 1989 to 1992. It follows a group of students at Bayside High School. The show is a comedy but occasionally deals with heavier issues. It currently has a rating of 7.0/10 on IMDb.
In S1E4, Lorelai, wearing a green B-52’s shirt, meets Max at a school meeting and Max asks her, “So, are you a B-52’s girl?” Lorelai replies, “What? Oh, no, I’m a klutz girl who should not drive with coffee in her hand. I, um, had this in the car.”
The B-52’s are a rock band formed in 1976. They are known for their hit “Love Shack.”
In S1E4, Lorelai walks into the kitchen and Sookie tells here there’s fresh coffee. However, Lorelai picks up the coffee pot and it’s empty except for some burnt coffee on the bottom, so she says, “Fresh in my first lifetime as Joan of Arc.”
Joan of Arc is a French saint and warrior who helped France gain independence from England in the early 1400’s. She led several victories against the English, but was captured and burned at the stake in 1431. She is noteworthy because she was only a teenager when she fought and died, because she was a woman, and because she fought based on religious conviction and motivated many others to do the same.
In S1E4, Drella is playing the song “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath on her harp in the Independence Inn lobby. Lorelai walks up and says, “No Black Sabbath.” Drella protests, “No one is listening.” Lorelai continues, “No Black Sabbath, no Steely Dan, no Boston, and no Queen.” Drella sighs and says, “What happened to make you so cold?” Lorelai starts walking away and says, “We like that Mozart.” Drella dramatically declares, “I am the Artie Shaw of harpists.”
Black Sabbath, Steely Dan, Boston, and Queen are all rock bands that rose to fame during the 70’s and 80’s.
Artie Shaw, the “King of Swing,” was a famous jazz clarinet player and bandleader in the 30’s and 40’s. Drella was referencing the fact that Shaw was a musical pioneer, including unusual instruments in his big band ensembles and mixing jazz music with genres such as classical and Afro-Cuban.