- “If you're gonna throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!”
The storybook Connecticut town of Stars Hollow is home to 32-year-old Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her 16-year-old daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Rory and her best friend Lane Kim (Keiko Agena) are straight 'A' students at the local public high school, but when Rory is accepted into the prestigious Chilton Prep in nearby Hartford, the steep tuition forces Lorelai to try to mend the long-standing rift with her wealthy parents Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop) and ask for financial help.
Welcome to the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Home of the Gilmore girls, Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai is a 32-year-old single mother who is so close to her 15-year-old daughter, Rory. Many people mistake them for sisters. The show opens at the local diner that the girls patronize often. Lorelai has a special relationship with the owner and an addiction to caffeine (coffee). She squares off with the owner on a daily basis over just how much coffee she's allowed to have. We're also treated to an opening scene where an unsuspecting male hits on the both of the Gilmore girls, separately. This creates some of the quirky problems the Gilmore girls have. Clearly, there are hazards in being a mother and daughter pair so close in age.
Later, we meet Lorelai's bizarre staff at the inn she manages. There's Michel, the rude French man who runs the front desk, the unbelievably sassy harp player, and Sookie, the chef who is a walking disaster area. Meanwhile, we find out that Rory is the kind of girl who is more interested in academic pursuits and reading Madame Bovary than worrying about clothes and boys. But unbeknownst to Rory there is a new guy in town and he has his eyes set on her. Rory and her best friend, Lane, hang out after school and discuss an upcoming teen hayride. Rory wouldn't be caught dead at the event, but Lane has strict parents who are trying to set her up with the son of a business colleague.
The real story is that Rory hears she has been accepted to the exclusive prep school Chilton, which means guaranteed admission to Harvard. Rory is psyched, but Lorelai gets a rude awakening, the school wants a pricey enrollment fee in addition to first semester's tuition. And they want it pronto. Lorelai doesn't have the money, but can't bear the thought of disappointing her daughter. The only thing left for her to do is ask her wealthy parents. But that's not such an easy task since Lorelai's relationship with her parents is beyond strained. As a teenager, Lorelai didn't exactly fulfill her parent's high expectations, getting pregnant at sixteen didn't help, so it is going to take a lot of pride swallowing for her to ask for the money. Lorelai does indeed end up asking her folks for money, where she receives quite the chilly reception. When she asks for the money, they agree, since it is really for Rory, but have one minor condition. Lorelai's mother, Emily, demands that she get to see her daughter and granddaughter once a week. That means dinner every Friday night. Lorelai hesitates, but agrees.
At school, Rory is explaining to Lane about Chilton when she bumps into Dean, the new kid from Chicago who has been eyeing Rory. They talk and Rory begins to really like Dean. Just how hard she falls for him isn't revealed until later when she tells her mom that she doesn't want to go to Chilton anymore. Lorelai is confused and astounded, but Rory doesn't back down. When the truth comes out, Lorelai flips out and says she will not allow her daughter to throw her life away for some random guy. Rory is going to Chilton whether she wants to or not. When the Gilmore girls go to the grandparents' house for dinner, the whole night turns into a big disaster. Lorelai's father starts talking about Rory's dad, Christopher, and all his success he has had with his internet startup in California. This causes Lorelai to have a mini-breakdown. She and Emily end up fighting in the kitchen and Rory overhears every word, including the part about paying for Chilton. When it's all over, Rory recognizes her mom's bravery and agrees to go to Chilton.
- Mrs. Kim – Boys don't like funny girls
- Rory – You're happy
- Lorelai – Yeah
- Rory – Did you do something slutty?
- Lorelai – I'm not that happy (Sookie and Lorelai giggle)
- Dean – I've noticed you
- Rory – Me?
- Parts of the episode were shot in and around Toronto, Ontario, Canada; the very first shot of the pilot is of the Main Street of Unionville, Ontario (just north of Toronto), which is like a real-life Stars Hollow.
- The hardware store on Main Street was turned into Luke's Diner (which is how the story of Luke turning his father's hardware store into a diner came about).
- Lorelai and Rory are eating salads, which later in the series would be almost an impossibility (other than at Friday Night Dinner).
- Friday Night Dinner is instituted, as well as a weekly phone call.
- "There She Goes" by The La's
- "Where the Colors Don't Go" by Sam Phillips
- "I Try" by Macy Gray
- "My Little Corner of the World" by Kit Pongetti
- "Wendy" composed by Wesley Yang & Gavin McNett
- "Ballet Waltz #3" by Herman Beeftink
- "Heartland" by George Strait
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Stephen King (referenced by Lorelai to Sookie)
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
- Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt (Rory is seen holding this book)
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Lorelai – You're a regular Jack Kerouac.
- Rory – God, RuPaul doesn't need this much makeup.
- Lorelai – Well, you're crabby.
- Rory – I'm sorry. I lost my Macy Gray CD and I need caffeine.
- Lorelai – (getting coffee from Luke) What? It's not for me. It's for Rory, I swear.
- Luke – You're shameless.
- Lorelai – Look, Officer Krupke. She's right at that table, right there.
- Lane – Oh, well, there's no way Mark Twain could compete with that.
- Rory – I need stamps. Can I have these?
- Michel – No.
- Lorelai – Take them. What's with the muumuu?
- Lane – My parents still get upset over the obscene portion sizes of American food. I seriously doubt I'm going to make any inroads with Eminem
- Rory – (looking at her blue plaid Chilton skirt) I'm going to be in a Britney Spears video?
- Sookie – Where's your pâté?
- Lorelai – At Zsa Zsa Gabor's house.
- Rory – God! You're like Ruth Gordon just standing there with the tannis root. Make a noise!
- Dean – Rosemary's Baby
- Rory – Yeah.
- Dean – Well, that's a great movie. You got good taste.
- Lorelai – 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.
- Lorelai – You're not going to give me the Mommie Dearest treatment forever, are you?
- Rory – Do we go in or do we just stand here reenacting The Little Match Girl?
- Lorelai – OK, 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. Deal?
- Lorelai – Is he dreamy?
- Rory – Ugh, that's so Nick at Nite.