From Esa-Pekka Salonen to Hasa Diga Eebowai: Every Music Reference in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life by Brad Efford

When it was announced in October of last year that Netflix had struck a deal with Warner Bros. to revive Gilmore Girls from its unsatisfying demise, it felt like my birthday had come early: friends and family all posted the news on my Facebook wall, tagged me on Twitter, sent me enthusiastic texts. I had known already that I was that guy, but suddenly I was That Guy. Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time, and to say I was giddy and thinking purely positive thoughts about the chance to get back into Stars Hollow with the Palladinos is an understatement. It was everything I could do to try and keep my expectations under control.

Here’s what I’ll say: the new series does not disappoint. It isn’t perfect, but neither was the original run (close, though). It’s rich with emotion, goofy as hell, and for the most part feels very, very familiar in a very, very good way. Because music is my bag, and because music has always been such a rich part of the show (and a fun way of tracking what was hot in the burgeoning new decade—remember when Rory burned an Arcade Fire CD for her mom in season 4? Because I sure do), I decided to take note of every music or musical reference point in the four new episodes. There are a lot, and not all are winners. Many are real stinky pits, in fact, and could use a new sewer system to flush them out. I’ve ranked them all here, from the worst of the worst to my absolute favorite. If you like the list then be sure to call my mom and leave a five-star review!

1. Luke plans a Steely Dan flash mob

from “Fall”
steely-dan

Lorelai: “You’re doing a flash mob to Steely Dan?”
Luke: “I like Steely Dan!”
“You can’t do a flash mob to Steely Dan.”
“Why not?”
“Well, it’s old, boring man music.”
“It’s not old, boring man music.”
“What does your flash mob do? Jump out, lose their hair, complain about their backs, and doze off?”

This is the best music joke they make on all four episodes of the new series (/movies(?)). Now, hear me out:

  1. It perfectly matches the character. Of fucking course Luke is a Dan Man and of fucking course he doesn’t get what’s so inherently humorous about a Steely Mob.
  2. It’s real funny. Steely Dan as a band is almost always funny, because of what they represent. What they represent, if you can’t recall, is ooober pretentious-slash-supersmart lite jazz rock. Everything about that genre is the best. And hilarious. Now imagine people choreographing a dance to it.
  3. Let’s talk about the song choice for just a quick sec, because it really extra-sells the image. Luke says he’s dancing to “Hey Nineteen.” Here is “Hey Nineteen.” Can you dance to this song? Would you try to? In, like, a coordinated mob fashion? You guys. It’s so funny.
  4. It already feels classic. Lorelai’s joke about what this theoretical Steely Mob would look like is the sort of stalwart GG quip we all know and love. “What does your flash mob do?” she asks. “Jump out, lose their hair, complain about their backs, and doze off?” And no one can deliver a line like this like Lauren Graham can. I lmaoed for sure.
  5. The dance gets a call-back in the last banter-y convo of the whole series:

Rory: “Steely Dan?”Lorelai: “I know.”
“Who flash mobs to Steely Dan?”
“Luke.”
“Luke.”
“It’s fine. I texted Patty and she’s gonna switch it to ‘Karma Chameleon.’”
“Without telling him?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh man, that’s going to be good.”
“Yup.”
“Though aren’t you kind of curious to see what a Steely Dan flash mob would look like?”
“Nope.”
“Me either.”

And now we get to picture Luke’s flash mob confusedly trying to match their “Hey Nineteen” nonsense choreography to “Karma Chameleon.” So sublime, this image. So funny.


2. Zack looks like Leonard Cohen (or not)

from “Winter”

Lane: “I tell him he looks like a young Leonard Cohen, but he actually just looks like his dad.”

Fine, it’s very possible that I have a soft spot for this accidentally very well-timed Cohen reference, but, again, it’s just about perfect. Lane would plausibly make this reference, would lie to Zack to make him feel better, and Leonard Cohen did pretty reliably look like an aging rock musician’s dad. This also sets up the tiny arc in “Winter” around Zack feeling like a sell-out robot because he’s been rewarded a promotion at work. This arc also gives us a nice scene of Zack changing out of his work clothes in the kitchen and shouting “I’m not me yet!” as Hep Alien sets up for practice. I would babysit for Lane and Zack if Brian wasn’t already around tbqh.


3. Emily settles in with Liza

from “Fall”

Near the end of the new series, while wandering around her new place of residence in Nantucket, already antsy, Emily puts on “Some People,” from Gypsy. In case you’re curious, here is a sample of this song’s (yes, particularly poignant) lyrics:

Some people can thrive and bloom
living life in the living room.
That’s perfect for some people
of one hundred and five,

but I at least gotta try–
when I think of all the sights that I gotta see
and all the places I gotta play,
all the things that I gotta be at

This is the exact kind of clever pin Amy S-P will drop into scenes when she sits in the director’s chair, and just remembering it now makes me feel like tearing up all over again. Emily’s arc is maybe the only truly complete one by the end of these four new episodes, and “Some People” fits her, matches her, carries her through. Liza Minnelli also gets short-shrifted with my least favorite reference in the whole series (see bottom of list), so I was glad to see her served better here. This show can really break your heart, guys. Oof.


4. The Girls escape with Tom Tom Club

from “Winter”

Luke: “Don’t put that song on and disappear into Rory’s room! Hey!”

This is a scene in which Rory has just come home from a long time away and she and her mother immediately retreat into Rory’s room to gab. They put on “Genius of Love” real loud so Luke can’t overhear. I love this line for its quick repositioning of Rory and Lorelai as gossiping teens hiding from Dad (/Daddy). It’s one of those tiny moments that help to piece by piece build the same comforting, familiar world we’ve come to cherish so fully. Plus, “Genius of Love” is one of my all-time favorite songs. It deserves every second of background airtime it gets.


5. Kirk is the Sirius Carpenters station

from “Winter”

kirk-sings-the-carpenters_brighter

Kirk: “I’m happy to sing any song you request, as long as it’s by the Carpenters.”
Lorelai: “Well, how about something by the Carpenters?”
“Good choice.” *starts singing Top of the World*

You may need to from the outset find Kirk’s Ooober thread in “Winter” funny for this to land the way it’s supposed to, I don’t know, but Kirk belting out “Such a feeling’s coming over meeee, there is wonder in most everything I seeee” seemed worth the nine-year wait alone. This is just after he hands a Brita filter over the seats so Lorelai can have some water for the ride, you’ll remember, and just before he joins the two-man soccer game on Emily Gilmore’s back patio. Kirk is the best, y’all. He really sells the hell out of this Carpenters gag.


6. Emily Spinal Taps the painting

from “Winter”

spinal-tapping

Lorelai: “Oh come on, Mom, admit it.”
Emily: “Admit what?”
“You Spinal Tap’d the painting!”

This is a bit of a longer conversation, but you get the picture (nailed it): Emily’s ordered a portrait of the late Richard Gilmore, but passed along the wrong dimensions for the painting in her grief. This joke turns Spinal Tap into a verb, is definitely a reference Lorelai would make (tbh she’s probably made it before, off-camera), and basically puts across her lips what the audience is thinking anyway. I heartily approve this message.


7. Dolly plays us out

from “Winter”

“Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton plays us to the end credits as we pull up and out on Luke and Lorelai walking through a wintery Stars Hollow.

I might think this song choice is accidental were this almost any other show, but ASP’s a real smart writer, and a real fan pleaser, to boot. You may remember one of (the unfortunate) season 7’s few good scenes, in which drunken Lorelai has a karaoke revelation performing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” at Luke. Nevermind that the acceptance of this scene negates the new season’s Secret Bar, and nevermind that Luke would never in a million years go to a karaoke bar (man, season 7 really is not good)…. If Amy is calling back to this nonsense at the end of “Winter,” it positions Dolly as Luke and Lorelai’s artist-muse, and I am so here for it. They shelled out for this tune—I’m going to bet they meant to.


8. Skrillex calms Michel

from “Spring”

Lorelai: “Michel’s leaving.”
Rory: “No he’s not.”
“Well, he’s getting restless.”
“That’s just Michel. Play him some Skrillex, that always calms him.”

This joke does everything right: it centers itself around a real emotional sub-plot, makes 100% total sense for the character, and arrived from seemingly out of nowhere. I absolutely buy that Michel listens to Skrillex. The more I sit with this idea, the more I have a hard time thinking of an artist more Michel than Skrillex. Except for Celine Dion, who, by the way, really should have cameoed in this episode or “Summer.” Poor Celine’s had a rough year, though—I’m sure Gilmore was low on the priority list, if it’s even on her Canadian radar (…Canadar).


9. Hep Alien performs “I’m the Man”

from “Winter”

rip-leonard-cohen

This is a great Joe Jackson song, the perfect song to show the band back in action (they let Sebastian sing! Sebastian’s feathery locks now even featherier than you remember!), definitely a song Hep Alien would play, and serves as a nice meta-commentary on Zack’s crisis identity as Punk-Hearted-But-Good-At-His-Job Man. A solid A-, with only half a point knocked off for not really finding a way to show HA practice but also fit into, you know, the narrative or whatever.


10. Rachael Ray sympathizes with Lorelai

from “Spring”

Lorelai: “On my first day he was the only one who would tell me I had a stain on my Thompson Twins T-shirt, and that, by the way, I shouldn’t be wearing a Thompson Twins T-shirt now that I’m working the front desk.”

Here we have Lorelai unloading on Rachael Ray, who delivers what a friend described last week as potentially the worst acting performance in history….like, ever. But that’s alright, I suppose, because we get another reminder of Lorelai’s real-bad eighties music taste. This reference completely checks out: she would like this band, she would wear this shirt, and Michel would call her out for it. Obscure enough to matter, broad enough to catch.

 

11. Everyone references Hamilton, because of course

from “Summer”

nottrhowinawaymy__shot

Rory: “Let’s have another round tonight.”
Lorelai: “Isn’t it way too Hamilton?”
Taylor: “Hamilton’s a smash!”
Sophie: “It won a million Tonys!”

These are from two different scenes in “Summer,” a.k.a. the Stars Hollow: The Musical episode. I like Hamilton. Who doesn’t like Hamilton? Hamilton’s a smash! I laughed out loud when the Lin-Manuel stand-in hit the stage and left Sutton Foster looking genuinely confused (“For me, all your rapping is kinda hard to foll-ow”). I also laughed out loud when I remembered Carole King’s character is named “Sophie.” It wouldn’t make sense for this revival not to have as many Hamilton references as possible. I think there’s even a sneaky one in “Winter” when Kirk tells Luke “people don’t want to know how the sausage gets made” re: his failing Ooober venture. It’s history! In raps!


12. Paris West Side Storys Francie

from “Spring”

Paris: “Take a powder, Baby John, this is our turf!”

I don’t know how much I believe that Paris would actually say this, but it’s a reference I had to look up and the results left me satisfied. One of the best parts of Gilmore Girls is the way it expects you to unpack it, without slowing down or pausing even one second for you to do so. The original series aired in a pre-smartphone America. How did anyone understand anything these people said? That it went seven seasons despite it is beautiful.


13. Lorelai is a The Voice judge, or something

from “Winter”

Lorelai: “You’ve been without your underwear since you moved?”
Rory: “Don’t judge.”
“I’m Gwen freakin’ Stefani—do you wanna borrow some underwear?”

I appreciated the way this reference hit me real slowly and made me walk backward through it to make it safely out the other side. To expect people to draw Gwen immediately to The Voice is either a.) a stretch, or b.) perfectly logical and I’m way out of it. Again, I dig the work it expected me to do all the same. Also, Rory, buy some underwear, my dude. That’s gross.


14. Kinky Boots, from Kinky Boots

from “Summer”

Taylor: “And she was Kinky Boots!”
Lorelai: “You mean she was in Kinky Boots?”
“No no, she played the lead. She was Kinky Boots.”
“But that’s not her name. There is no character named Kinky Boots. I saw the show.”

I didn’t bother writing the last line of this banter because it concluded a joke that ended up being as lazy as I was for not bothering to write it down. Taylor basically says, “Well, I saw the show too” and walks away. A real punchline, that one. Still, the Kinky Boots stuff gets a pass because it keeps coming back up, again and again, throughout the episode, and it truly gets funnier every time. There is a page of a script somewhere where Babette’s only line is “Kinky Boots!” over and over again. I’m here for it.


15. Doyle’s faux-vintage rock shirts

from “Winter,” “Spring,” and “Summer”

mcmanus

Paris: “I’ll be using that Def Leppard shirt to clean my windows.”
Doyle wears an Elvis Costello and the Attractions shirt
Doyle wears a “Guns of Brixton”-era Clash shirt

whenthelawbreaksin

This is more a series of eggs than a single reference, but I really enjoyed how Paris thinks New and Improved Hollywood Doyle wears vintage tees splashed with Def Leppard, when really what he’s rocking is Costello and the Clash. Both of these feel correct—that Paris would equate “Def Leppard” with “rock” and that Doyle would wear off-the-rack band shirts from Target.


16. Taylor is a secret hip-hop head

from “Summer”

Taylor: “Oh, because Hamilton has rap numbers, no one else in the world is allowed to rap? If you would be so kind as to let RZA and Busta Rhymes know that they’re not allowed to rap anymore.”

This line left me agape, then smiling, then straight-up guffawing. It caught me so off-guard! It makes no sense, these words coming from Taylor’s mouth, but saves itself a little bit by having Gypsy follow up with a quick “How does he know those names?” I would watch a Stars Hollow local access show called Taylor in the Bassment, where he reviews new hip hop records and premieres videos. Palladinos, get it poppin, make it work, call me.


17. Jack makes Lorelai anxious

from “Summer”

Lorelai: “Well I ain’t sayin’ he’s a gold digger…”

Yes, there is a Kanye reference in the new episodes. Yes, it’s used to float a theory that Emily’s new maybe-beau is in it for the deep pockets. To be fair, on discovering Jack’s got more money than Emily, Lorelai flips it with a “Well I ain’t sayin’ you’re a gold digger…” Not the best joke in the series—dated and kind of cringe-y—but you know what? They can’t all be winners.


18. Lane and Zack are cool parents

from “Winter”

They have a The Decline of Western Civilization poster on their living room wall. I was on board with it, and loved that it was never mentioned. Who isn’t into a good ol’ fashioned punk doc easter egg!


19. Luke is so sexy it hurts

from “Fall”

Jess: “Wow. Where’s Right Said Fred when you need ‘em?”

Jess was really a plot device more than anything else in the few scenes they threw him for the revival, but he did get this nice zinger in. It’s not particularly well-written or clever, but it made me picture Luke in a mesh belly-shirt, which made me chuckle. Remember how popular Right Said Fred was? God bless the nineties.


20. Emily wears Lorelai’s jeans

from “Winter”

Lorelai: “Did you not notice the Billy Squier patch on the butt?”

I’ve seen enough of Bunheads that the image of Emily Gilmore in jeans and a Candies T-shirt didn’t jar me much, but I still very much appreciate that they went for it here. A lot of the joy in watching Rory, Lorelai, and Emily on GG in the first place derives from the way you see pieces of all of them sort of embedded in each other—Lorelai especially is like her mother in a lot of ways she’d ditch if given the chance. She works her whole life, it seems, just not to be her mother. It’s pretty rich, then, seeing her mother in those Billy Squier jeans.


21. Babette’s zingers

from “Summer”

“School of Rock, bunch of shlock: this show gets an A!”
“Tevye, move over, there’s a new Jew in town!”
“Hasa diga eebowai, you Mormon nerds, audiences are ringing a new doorbell!”

Babette wrote just as many notes as Lorelai did during the musical, but hers were all Broadway zingers. I love that she calls them “zingers,” I love that we get to hear three of them (out of 26!), and I love the three that we get to hear. The Book of Mormon one I had to look up, for sure—seeing Sally Struthers chew on that line was a real unexpected treat.


22. Emily calls out Babs Sinatra

from “Fall”

Emily: “Maybe you can wait him out. Like Barbara Sinatra—she just waited him out.”

I am extremely here for Emily’s already infamous “bullshit” rant at the D.A.R. Tack on this really supremely thrown shade at—why?—Barbara Sinatra, and you’ve got me agape. Burn. the. house. DOWN. Emily. Burn. it. down.


23. Dean and Rory catch up

from “Fall”

Rory: “How is Clara?”
Dean: “She’s living in Berlin with a guy named Wolfgang.”
“Van Halen.”
“I wish.”

The back half of “Fall” distinguishes the episode as the best of the bunch, despite a real clunky first half, with a series of scenes that, one after the other, are really pure perfection. Jared Padalecki starts the ball rolling in his one Dean Scene. Perfectly conceived, acted, and timed, this scene, with a weird Wolfgang Van Halen reference right in the middle of it. It’s not a terrific line, but Dean’s “I wish” sells it. I buy that Dean legitimately and honestly wishes his little sister were dating the lesser Van Halen. So Dean.


24. Michel is rude to his (potential) replacement

from “Fall”

Michel sings the latest candidate for his job out of the room with “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight.”
Michel: “I know. I was rude.”
Lorelai: “And off key. I don’t care.”

Yanic Truesdale really sells this scene, a prime display of Michel’s self-righteousness at its best. Underneath, Michel has always had a heart of gold and a real soft spot for Lorelai—watching him try and sabotage the process of finding his own replacement is oddly endearing. The funnier line here, though, is at the end of the scene when he asks the next candidate if she brought tissues and when she says yes, hits her with a brutal “You better get them out now.”


25. Rory humblebrags about her music taste

from “Spring”

Rory: “I had this notion that somehow my extensive familiarity with Nick Cave and Radiohead and a smattering of Stravinsky destined me for success.”

You know, I originally had this line way lower down on this list because I didn’t buy for a second that Rory listened to these three artists. I’ve rescinded my trepidation because it occurs to me now that in this scene Rory is speaking to a classroom full of Chilton students, and Rory is exactly the kind of person who would want people to think she listens to music like this. If I had to guess I would wager that more likely, Rory’s really into Kings of Leon.


26. Lorelai is not, will never be Queen Latifah

from “Spring”

Lorelai: “What sort of transformation did she expect? I come in here Lorelai Gilmore, and two months later I walk out Queen Latifah?”

This is where the list starts to get much rougher. I don’t have much to say about this particular reference other than that it somehow positions Queen Latifah as the butt of the joke, which I do not care for. Lorelai is complaining about the fact that her mother quit their therapy sessions. It’s a meh line in an otherwise interesting dramatic moment.


27. Paris grapples with buried emotions

from “Spring”

blake

Paris: “I’m feeling fear….and loneliness….and heartache. Listen to me, I sound like a freakin’ Blake Shelton song!”

There didn’t need to be two The Voice references in two back-to-back episodes of this revival, and they really didn’t need to bring Daddy Blake into the mix. I don’t really think Paris would make this connection and I 100% don’t think she’d say the word “freakin’” (quick note: not a fan of that silly, silly word), but lord a’mighty if Liza Weil doesn’t sell the heck out of this scene. I would say she’s Gilmore’s secret MVP, but it’s not a secret that she’s the MVP so I won’t bother saying it.


28. Lorelai wishes Rory was more like Fantine

from “Winter”

Lorelai: “You should be singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ while selling yourself to a bunch of French dock workers.”

This is one of the first jokes in the new series, when Rory arrives in town and isn’t as plane-rekt as Lorelai wants her to be. It’s a fine reference—it reminds me of a muddy Anne Hathaway, is honestly the best part about it. I just rewatched that scene on YouTube on a shitty tiny screen while lying in bed—still cried, I don’t care, still let them tears roll down.


29. Luke’s Diner gets its Risky Business on

from “Fall”

Lorelai: “I called—it doesn’t miss you at all. It’s in its underwear blasting Bob Seger.”

Lorelai is trying to convince Luke that he can step away from the diner for a couple hours and nothing bad’s going to happen. The running gag that Luke refuses to close the diner for any reason—even his own wedding—and seemingly hates to even be away from the job exhausts me a little bit, to be frank. Luke’s already dangerously close to being a one-dimensional character (especially in these new episodes). Why amp it up so much? As a high school English teacher, though, I will say that the personification is strong in this one.


30. Lorelai has ten thousand spoons

from “Spring”

Lorelai: “Mom, you were the one complaining that I wasn’t saying anything. Without my mouth, how do I speak? To quote Alanis Morissette: ‘Isn’t that ironic?’”

There’s gotta be a much cleaner way to make this reference without just coming out and saying it, right? I think I literally groaned aloud at this line on first watch. Lorelai would definitely say something like this, but that doesn’t make it particularly clever or snappy. It’s rare to get the chance to accuse this show of lazy writing, but hey. It happens.


31. Taylor has ABBA’s numbers

from “Summer”

Taylor: “We all love the ABBA songs, but my attorney warned me that doing the nine ABBA songs at the end might entangle us in some messy litigation. Now I’ve got a call in to Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA–”

Gypsy: “You have their numbers?”

“–but have yet to hear back.”

Again, people, I am on board for Stars Hollow: The Musical. Some of my biggest laughs from the entire series—maybe even including the original, tbqh—were in those 10 minutes (or 10 hours, or however long it was). That means by the time it ended with the nonsense singalong to “Waterloo” I was just about dying. The only problem with the ABBA thing is that they talk it about afterward in the advisory committee meeting, and it’s revealed that it went on for eight more songs. That’s….wildly excessive. And downright silly. It’s like when you laugh at someone’s joke, and it emboldens them to keep the joke going. Never works, never good. Hearing Taylor say those two Swedish names, though: loved it.


32. Paul winks at the theme song

from “Winter”

Rory: “I’m gonna put these in some water—come on, Paul.”
Paul: “Yes—I will follow.”

I don’t even know if this one counts, but again, I’m giving the Palladinos the benefit of the doubt wherever I can. Paul is a funny enough character and more than that a funny idea that cross-references Ann/Egg/Her, which I very much appreciate, but he definitely did not need to be used as a punchline in every episode. Furthermore, if you’re not going to give the fans the theme song until literally the very last minute, don’t use a character we neither know nor care about at all to reference it in episode one. I was unjustly annoyed at this….which, again, may have been coincidental. Fandom is super tough, eh. Shruggy shrug.


33. Jackson scares intruders with Guns N’ Roses

from “Fall”

Sookie: “He’s rigged the entire property with bear traps that blast ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ if you trip them off….”

This reference is kind of funny because of the image it creates, but it gets the short shrift because Jackson’s bear traps would absolutely play Creedence, not GNR. They had Sookie for one scene in which she mentioned both Jackson and music, and they lapsed on the chance for a CCR line. For shame.


34. Emily Gilmore: big fan of the Coens

from “Winter”

Emily: “Luke, what do you think about Rory’s living situation?”
Luke: “Hmm?”
“Her traipsing around from one couch to another like she’s Llewyn Davis.”

There are a million other references Emily could have—and would have—used here besides Llewyn Davis, a fictional approximation of Dave Van Ronk from a lesser Coen brothers movie. This barely counts as a music reference—Llewyn is a musician, so we’ll say OK—but the bigger issue is that it doesn’t fit the character in the least. What Lebowski lines do you think Emily has up her sleeve? If during the Marie Kondo scene she’d gotten rid of a rug because it no longer tied the room together, I’da died, y’all.


35. Katy Perry moves on in another nun house

from “Fall”

Nun #1: “But if you’re interested, you better move fast. Katy Perry was sniffing around her earlier.”
Nun #2: “She dresses like a hooker, but she comes with cash.”
Emily: “I paid cash.”
Lorelai: “You and Katy Perry.”

Gilmore typically avoids ripped-from-the-headlines jokes just for this reason: shit gets dated real fast. This joke falls flat and only makes me try to rack my brain for what, exactly, that Katy story was all about. The callback later on in the episode was kind of funny—I don’t remember, but I might have chuckled, probably more out of obligation than anything else if I’m being real frank. The one good thing: the way the second sister says “She dresses like a hooker but she comes with cash” is incredibly mid-2000s radio hip-hop.


36. Lorelai goes full Harry Chapin

from “Winter”

Lorelai: “Cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…”
Rory: “Oh, now Emily.”

Lorelai is lamenting how much time is passing without getting to see her daughter. This joke was a little clever, but also a little dense—it requires knowledge of the song and knowledge of the song’s intent, neither of which your typical Gilmore viewer’s going to have. I don’t know why this reference doesn’t mean much to me. Maybe I just found it poorly delivered. Maybe I just really dislike this song, so the line tastes bad. Those opening scenes in “Winter” are a little cringe-worthy, aren’t they? Takes everyone a little while to pick up steam.


37. The Life & Death Brigade makes the list, unfortunately

from “Fall”

Colin: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have just purchased this fine establishment and as owner I have decided that from now on the only music we will play is this–” *Rosemary Clooney starts to play* “–yes, all Rosemary Clooney, all the time! Try tangoing to that, huh?”

I don’t even care enough about this terrible, terrible section of the series to go back and look up what Rosemary Clooney song was playing. Who thought we all wanted 20 more minutes with the gotdang Life & Death Brigade? Who decided to shoot this nonsense like a fever dream music video? Why don’t we give Lane a real story instead? I like hearing Rosemary Clooney on TV, so this reference doesn’t land in last place. But ugh. How this episode overcame this scene is a real miracle.


38. Sophie plays a Carole King song

from “Summer”

ifeeltheearth_move_under_my_feet

Sophie moves to the piano, starts playing “I Feel the Earth Move.” Taylor stops her.
Taylor: “That’s not catchy.”
Sophie: “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.”

A few thoughts:

  1. That song is definitely catchy.
  2. I never knew Carole King was the music store owner in the original series. I will admit this openly and freely, with the caveat that literally the only image I have of Carole King is the Tapestry
  3. Don’t go meta like this in a revival like this. It’s the exact sort of Very Bad Fan Service that sinks an already barely-floating ship. I loved the Stars Hollow musical and loved the advisory committee, but man did this shit stop everything in its tracks. My eyes froze from rolling so hard.
  4. Carole King is not a good actor. But Rachael Ray’s still worse.

39. Lorelai name-checks Finland’s biggest composer

from “Spring”

Lorelai: “My mother strikes more chords than Esa-Pekka Salonen.”

I completely missed this line—or ignored it?—on my first watch. It is….inexcusable. In what world does Lorelai know who this person is? I get that the Palladinos like getting flashy and like showing off how much pop culture they know, but man. This is like the least understanding of one’s own character I’ve ever seen. Poor Lauren Graham really does her best to sell it, but that’s a difficult rescue. Cool name though.


40. Taylor proposes marching for Liza

from “Spring”

Taylor: “We will be holding the first annual Stars Hollow Gay Pride Parade. 2016 was the perfect year to hold it because it coincided with an important date: the 70th birthday of one Miss Liza Minnelli. That’s Liza with a Z.”

This reference itself is not so bad. We know that Taylor loves Liza, and we know she’s a gay icon. I’m down with it. The whole scene here, though, is really just a disaster. A few things go down that real stink it up. First, Taylor proposes holding a gay pride parade to celebrate Liza, instead of, you know, celebrating gay pride. Then, he suggests that it might be impossible to hold the parade because there aren’t a lot of gay people in Stars Hollow. He knows of three, and doesn’t mention Michel, who at this point we’ve learned is definitively Out. I guess it’s besides the point that allies or, oh hey, anyone really can march in a pride parade. After this, he suggests “borrowing gays” from neighboring towns to pad the parade. Ugh. Finally, we learn this whole scene’s just been a set-up for Gypsy trying to get Taylor to admit he’s gay. Is this a thing anyone cares about? Has Taylor’s sexuality ever been a conversation fans have had? This whole mess was really hard to watch. Luckily, it didn’t linger.

 

Brad Efford is the founding editor of The RS 500, a project pairing each of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time with an original piece of writing. His writing can be found in Puerto del Sol, Pank, Hobart, and elsewhere. He teaches English and history in Austin, TX.

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