In S1E19, Emily is telling Rory and Lorelai about her difficulties in finding good antiques. Emily says, “You can’t find a decent Biedermeier hutch in all of Connecticut.”
“Biedermeier” describes a time period of European art in the early nineteenth century. Biedermeier furniture was simpler than its predecessor, Empire-style furniture. The Biedermeier era was shaped largely by the middle class, so the materials were inexpensive and the design more durable than in previous eras.
This post is in response to a rush request from Jordan. I apologize for the lack of actual promptness, but here is the explanation behind the “Nag Hammadi” mention in S4E13.
In S4E13, the Gilmores are at a benefit dinner, and the speaker says, “That is why I thank each and every one of you for your loyal support to the Ephram Wordus Rare Manuscript Acquisition Foundation, because without it, we would just be stuck rooting around Nag Hammadi.”
One lovely thing about this reference is that it is briefly explained in the episode title itself: “Nag Hammadi is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels.”
Nag Hammadi is a city in Egypt where the Gnostic Gospels were discovered (in a jar) in 1945. The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of thirteen books including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip. These books are based in Jewish and Christian tradition but for various reasons were rejected from the Canon of Scripture (they were deemed either untrue or unnecessary). The discovery of these manuscripts strongly influenced Christian scholarship in the twentieth century.
The speaker is basically saying that without a foundation dedicated to finding rare manuscripts, they would just be stuck looking in the last place they made a great discovery: Nag Hammadi.
In S1E18, Paris can’t stop smiling after her date with Tristan. Rory responds “Good, then it’s the perfect time to talk about our overtaxed peasants,” referring to their model government project. Paris says happily, “Oh, let them eat cake.”
“Let them eat cake,” is a famous phrase attributed to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. The phrase was supposedly her response to learning that the lower classes had no bread to eat, and demonstrates her complete lack of understanding of the common people. According to some sources, though, the quote was misattributed (similar sayings were attributed to several other upper-class Frenchwomen). Some say Marie Antoinette was actually pretty nice and charitable, but nevertheless, tales of her extravagance contributed to the tension that sparked the French Revolution.
In S1E18, Emily is freaking out at Richard because Richard’s mother, Lorelai, offered to give Rory her trust fund early. Richard refuses, and Emily says, “Now you listen to me. I don’t care if she demeans me and looks down on me. I don’t care if she thinks I’ve tarnished the Gilmore name. I don’t care if she thinks I’m the whore of Babylon!”
“The Whore of Babylon” refers to an evil figure from the book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, in the Bible. Her full name according to the New International Version of the Bible is:
“Babylon the Great / The Mother of Prostitutes / And of the abominations of the earth.”
Catchy title, right? Some different interpretations of the Whore of Babylon include: the Roman Empire (because it persecuted Christ-followers), Jerusalem (referring to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70), and the Roman Catholic Church (Luther and other post-reformation theologians believed this).
In S1E18, Sookie is trying to reassure Lorelai about Gran giving Rory trust fund money. Sookie says, “Rory’s like the most unmaterialistic kid in the world!” Lorelai responds, “No, it’s not about what she would buy. I don’t care if she buys a house or a boat or the Elephant Man’s bones! It’s just that… you know, it’s about the freedom.”
“The Elephant Man” refers to Joseph Merrick, a man born in the late nineteenth century who developed severe growth defects including thick lumps and bony growths on his head, hands, and feet. He was an exhibit at a freak show as a young man until he was admitted to the London Hospital, where he lived until his death at age 27. It is believed Merrick had Proteus syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes overgrowth of body parts. Merrick’s story was made into a movie called “The Elephant Man” in 1980, starring John Hurt as Merrick.
In S1E18, Rory asks Paris about the notecards she had in her pocket. Paris tells Rory that they’re talking points for the date, and Rory says, “Can I suggest that you leave this one about the Spanish Inquisition out?”
The Spanish Inquisition began in 1478 with the purpose of ensuring that recent Jewish and Muslim converts to Catholicism were practicing correctly and not secretly maintaining their old religions. The exact number of people killed in the inquisition is elusive, but estimates are in the thousands.
In S1E18, Lorelai is teasing Emily for giving her a present that had initially been a gift from Richard’s mother to Emily. Lorelai says, “What would Miss Manners say about this?” Emily replies, “If she met your grandmother, she’d understand.”
Miss Manners is the pen name used by Judith Martin. She writes a column, carried by hundreds of newspapers, about the rules, history, and theory of etiquette. She began “Miss Manners” in 1978 and received a National Humanities Medal in 2005 for her work.
In S1E18, Madeline and Louise are contemplating spying on Tristan and Paris as they talk about some unknown subject in the hall. Rory is against it, but Louise says, “Those who simply wait for information to find them spend a lot of time sitting by the phone. Those who go out and find it themselves have something to say when it rings.” Rory asks, “Nietzsche?” Louise answers, “Dawson.”
Frederick Nietzsche was a 19th century German philosopher. He was believed to be an atheist, often remembered for his bold statement, “God is dead.” Most people equate Nietzsche with nihilism, although he did seem to find hope in the idea of “working for the future.”
I think Louise is talking about the character Dawson Leery from the television show “Dawson’s Creek.” It premiered on the WB in 1998 (the same network as Gilmore Girls). The story followed the life of Dawson and his friends, Joey and Pacey, as they attend high school in a small Massachusetts town. (I can’t find this exact quote, but it does seem like something Dawson would say, and I can’t find any indication of another “Dawson” Louise might be talking about).
In S1E18, Paris asks Rory for feedback on her “manifesto” for their mock government project. Rory says, “My first thought, lose the word ‘manifesto.'” Paris asks, “Too ‘Cabin in the Woods?'” Rory answers, “Don’t open your mail.”
This is a reference to the Unabomber, aka Ted Kaczynski. In 1958, when he was only 16, he began studying at Harvard. Several years after earning his PhD, he became a recluse, living in a cabin in rural Montana while trying to become self-sufficient. He started sending out mail bombs in 1978, and continued for almost two decades before being arrested by the FBI. His manifesto, in which he calls for people to fight against “the system,” is actually what got him caught: he mailed it to The New York Times and said he would stop sending mail bombs if they published the letter. They did, and Kaczynski’s family members recognized the writing and contacted the FBI.
In S1E18, Paris is suspiciously questioning Rory about why she didn’t want to be the queen of their fake government. Rory says, “Not all girls want to be queen, Paris. Even Barbie ended up being a stewardess.”
Barbie is a doll manufactured and sold by Mattel, first released in 1959. Many different versions of Barbie are sold, often with different “career” themes. She has been a stewardess, an astronaut, a doctor, a military officer, the U.S. President, and more. Barbie also has a backstory, as told in various novels. She is usually dating Ken and has a little sister named Skipper.