13 Updated 'Gilmore Girls' Pop Culture References To Take Us Out Of The Past In The Revival
Watching or re-watching the Gilmore Girls in 2016 — nearly a decade after it went off the air — is an interesting experience. So much of the show's goodness seemed so ahead of its time (the mother-daughter relationship, the female-driven storylines) that it's sometimes hard to believe how old the show is. But there are some things that haven't aged nearly as well. Lorelai's fashion choices certainly come to mind. It's also abundantly clear though that some of the Gilmore Girls pop culture references are dated.
This is obviously to be expected. No one, not even the show's creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, could predict in 2000 what would continue to be touchstones in today's zeitgeist. The show also couldn't predict all the ways pop culture would change between the Gilmore Girls finale and now. Back in 2007, when Rory and Lorelai said goodbye, the iPhone didn't even exist yet, and we were only starting to keep up with the Kardashians.
So, for those references to movies, books, music, TV that they got wrong or the things that just need a bit of a modern update, I've come up with a list that will surely help them feel less dated. And, likely, give us a hint of the references we may be hearing on the Netflix revival.
THEN: The Bangles Vs. NOW: Sleater-Kinney
If you were a girl growing up in the '80s who loved rock music made by women, you would undoubtedly have been a Bangles fan just like Lorelai. The "Walk Like An Egyptian" band makes a cameo in the first season when Lorelai takes Rory and her Chilton frenemies to see them in concert. But if this show would have first aired in 2016, a cool mom likely would have been taking her daughter to go see Sleater-Kinney, the Seattle all-grrrl trio that anyone could easily argue are one of the best rock bands ever.
THEN: Allen Ginsberg's Howl Vs. NOW: Ta-Nehisi Coates Between The World And Me
Jess Mariano came into town in Season 2 and started leaving notes in the margins of Rory's copy of Howl, which is part of a collection of poetry dedicated to Carl Solomon, a man Ginsberg met in a mental institution. But, if that was today, Jess would likely be marking up her copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates' bestseller Between The World And Me. In 2015, this was the book to read, and then read again, to try and understand what Coates was saying, likely annotating and underlining lines that stood out.
THEN: Happy Days Vs. NOW: Mad Men
Happy Days was the most referenced TV show on Gilmore Girls, according to Vulture. The show set in the '50s, but airing in the '70s, was mentioned five times, including at least one mention of Lorelai wearing a Pinky Tuscadero T-shirt. But, since we're in the golden age of TV drama right now, I have to imagine there would be quite a few references to Mad Men, another show that takes place in the past and aired in the present.
THEN: Macy Gray Vs. NOW: Andra Day
"Sorry, I lost my Macy Gray CD, and I need caffeine." It's one of the first things Rory tells her mom in the Gilmore Girls premiere. Later, we hear them each play Gray's 1999 single "I Try," a song which would have been extremely relevant when the show debuted only a year later. A more modern equivalent could be Andra Day, a soulful R&B singer who seems to be in the beginning stages of earning some mainstream love.
Then: Jude Law, Now: Ben Affleck
Back in the 2000s, the biggest story about Jude Law was his affair with the nanny, made only worse by the fact that he had cheated on a beautiful actress, Sienna Miller. Lorelai is definitely a fan of a good Jude Law joke about his reported womanizing, but, at this point, Law is old news. The more modern equivalent would definitely be Ben Affleck, who also has been accused of having an affair with the nanny that led to his divorce from Jennifer Garner, though she denied this to Vanity Fair.
THEN: Eminem Vs. NOW: Kanye West
“If my parents still get upset over the obscene portion size of American food," Lane said. "I seriously doubt I'm gonna make any in-roads with Eminem.” Back in the pilot days, Eminem was the perfect choice to be every conservative parent's nightmare, but, nowadays, Eminem is not making headlines for his bad behavior. If we're going to go with someone in hip-hop who parents in 2016 just don't understand, it would have to be Kanye West.
THEN: Ashlee & Jessica Simpson Vs. NOW: Gigi & Bella Hadid
A Friday night dinner discussion was definitely had about the hair colors of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, mainly that Ashlee went dark to set herself apart from Jessica. If that conversation was having around the table today, it would be models Gigi and Bella Hadid who would be the focus. Especially since Bella recently admitted to Allure that she dyed her blonde hair brunette to set her apart from her sister.
THEN: Jennifer Lopez's Dating Life Vs. NOW: Taylor Swift's Dating Life
J. Lo was the butt of Lorelai's jokes about pretend weddings and too many engagements, but, in 2016, we're less interested in Lopez's love life and more interested in how she stays so young. Today, it would have to be T. Swift who is the punchline in jokes about dating lives that are too active to keep up with, something the singer herself parodied in 1989 singles "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space."
THEN: Angelina Jolie & Billy Bob Thornton Vs. NOW: Kim Kardashian & Kanye West
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West may not be wearing vials of one another's blood around their necks like Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton once did, but they are definitely the most recent equivalent of the celebrity couple that gets people saying "WTF?" We all want to know the details about their relationship — How many presents Kanye bought Kim for Christmas? Why did Kanye design Kim's outfit for Yeezy Season 3? — to try and understand how it possibly works.
THEN: Saved By The Bell Vs. NOW: Dawson's Creek
"Oh honey, you once told me that you loved Saved by the Bell," Lorelai joked to a teenage Rory. "What could be more humiliating than that?" In 2016, it would probably be still stumping for Dawson's Creek. Nothing wrong with liking it, just like how Saved By The Bell in the '90s it was touchstone for so many young people who came of age in the early 2000s. But you'd certainly have an uphill battle to convince anyone (including Lorelai Gilmore) that it isn't just a touch embarrassing to earnestly profess your love for it.
THEN: M. Night Shyamalan Vs. NOW: David Robert Mitchell
In the first season, Rory asks Lane what city she would want to live in if she could choose any in the world. She picks Philadelphia, because "M. Night Shyamalan lives there. The guy who directed The Sixth Sense." This episode aired in 2000, and that movie came out in 1999, so it was a real on-point choice for all the film nerds out there. If this same question was asked of her now, she'd definitely have to say Clawson, MI. "David Robert Mitchell lives there. The guy who directed It Follows." This film, which came out last year, was about unsuspecting teenagers who were followed by a spirit that they could only see after having sex and upped the horror game. And Clawson is a much funnier city to say anyway.
THEN: Antonio Banderas Vs. NOW Oscar Isaac
In Season 1, Lorelai tells the mother of the bride at a wedding being held at the Independence Inn that she will help her relax by sending her a "masseuse who bears a remarkable resemblance to Antonio Banderas." And, in 2000, the Spanish actor made perfect sense since that he had recently played Zorro and been the sex symbol in a string of movies. Today, I'd imagine Lorelai would be more focused on sending up whoever was the Internet's new boyfriend, and, right now, the Internet can't get enough of Oscar Isaac.
THEN: Paul Thomas Anderson Vs. NOW: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Lorelai will likely not be watching any Paul Thomas Anderson movies anytime soon. At least according to Rory, who, in Season 1, turns down Dean's proposal to bring over Boogie Nights for a movie night. "You’ll never get it past Lorelai," she tells him. "She had a bad reaction to Magnolia. She sat there for three hours screaming 'I want my life back!'" It's true Anderson's movies can be long, not to mention polarizing, so, to update this reference just a bit, we'd have to say Lorelai probably won't be watching any Alejandro G. Iñárritu movies anytime soon. From Babel to Birdman to The Revenant, Lorelai may consider Iñárritu's movies even more time-sucking than P.T. Anderson's. No matter how many Oscars he manages to win.
When the Gilmore Girls returns, it will be over 15 years since we last saw them, but we know in that time they wouldn't have stopped watching TV or movies, reading books or listening to music. And, just as we hope Lorelai and Rory have grown in their personal lives, we can only hope their pop culture references have also grown to represent where they are now.
Image: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (7)