'Gilmore Girls': What Was the First Pop-Culture Reference Ever Said on the Show?

Gilmore Girls is famous for its near-implausible amount of pop-culture references in each episode. But can you remember the first reference a Gilmore Girls character ever made on the show, in season 1, episode 1?

‘Gilmore Girls’ star Lauren Graham said the first pop-culture reference in season 1, episode 1

The pilot episode of Gilmore Girls opens on the song “There She Goes” by the band The La’s. It plays over a tracking shot of actor Lauren Graham as she walks through the fictional town of Stars Hollow.

If you count the deeply-1990s needle-drop as a pop-culture reference, then — that’s it. However, if you’re looking for the first one uttered in dialogue, that comes from Graham, who plays the main character, Lorelai Gilmore.

After walking into Luke’s Diner and ordering coffee, a man, who reveals his name to be Joey, comes up to Lorelai to hit on her.

“I’ve never been here before. I’m just passing through on my way to Hartford,” he tells her.

“You’re a regular Jack Kerouac,” Lorelai replies.

The WB series loved an obscure reference

Graham’s response is the very first pop culture reference in a long list of references on Gilmore Girls, a series which appears to pride itself on having all its characters name-drop, impersonate, and cite figureheads and titles from any medium and any decade, however obscure or ancient.

As The New York Times put it in a recent article about the show:

A single episode might reference Nikolai Gogol, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, the punk band Agnostic Front, the Velvet Underground collaborator Nico, Fiddler on the Roof, David Hockney, and the Franco-Prussian War.

It’s even more impressive, considering the series aired for most of its tenure on The WB — a network with a target demographic of teenagers and young adults. But did Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino actually expect its audience to get all of those esoteric references?

“There was going to be an Oscar Levant mention in there, and if you don’t know who he is, that’s OK!” she told The Times. “Look it up.” So — Gilmore was as much an opportunity for its viewers to learn as to enjoy.

How Lauren Graham got cast on ‘Gilmore Girls’

While Sherman-Palladino doesn’t seem to care if her audience got the pop-culture refs, she was particularly impressed that Graham got the Kerouac reference when she auditioned. So much so — it’s a huge reason Graham got the role.

“Sherman-Palladino picked Graham for the part of Lorelai over several more well-known actors, at least partly for her literary acumen,” The New York Times confirmed. Sherman-Palladino explained her husband and creative partner Daniel Palladino after Graham’s audition that why she liked the actor for Loreali.

“She’s the first actress that pronounced the name ‘Kerouac’ correctly,” Sherman-Palladino said.

Who was author Jack Kerouac?

Who was Kerouac, and what was he known for?

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, widely considered a founder of the Beat movement. He wrote several books, including his most famous On the Road, published in 1957, which is about Kerouac and his friends traveling around the U.S. by car. Hence, why Lorelai uses his name as a reference when talking to Joey, the Connecticut road-tripper.

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