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.
In S1E18, Emily gives a passionate speech about the Kennedy’s dinner conversation and the Gilmore’s intelligence and requests dinner conversation. When Lorelai’s reply is, “Do you know that a butt model makes $10,000 a day?” Emily comments, “Camelot is truly dead.”
Camelot is the fictional, romantic home of King Arthur. It is a term sometimes used to describe John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The comparison was created by Jackie Kennedy shortly after JFK’s assassination, when she said in an interview that John had liked the musical “Camelot,” especially the line, “Don’t ever let it be forgot, that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was Camelot.” Jackie herself said “there will never be another Camelot.” In doing this, she secured her husband’s legacy as a peaceful, benevolent, almost ideal president. Here’s a great article that goes more in-depth into the phenomenon of JFK’s Camelot.
In S1E18, Emily is trying to liven up the dinner conversation, and she says, “Do you know that every night at dinner, the Kennedy clan would sit around the table having lively debates about everything under the sun? They would quiz each other about current events, historical facts, intellectual trivia.”
The Kennedy family was a prominent force in U.S. politics for much of the twentieth century. It consisted of Joseph Kennedy Sr., a wealthy businessman and ambassador to the United Kingdom, his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and their children: Joseph Jr., a soldier who was killed in World War II; John, 35th president of the United States; Rosemary; Eunice; Patricia; Robert, Senator from New York; Jean, ambassador to Ireland; and Ted, Senator from Massachusetts. There’s way too much to say about the Kennedy’s than can be said here, but it is true that they had strict dinner table rules and that the children were expected to intelligently answer questions posed by their father at dinner.
In S1E17, Lane and Rory are looking around Madeline’s house at her party. They see the pool table and the DJ. Lane comments, “It’s like a teenage ‘Sodom and Gomorrah.'”
Sodom and Gomorrah were two ancient cities located along the Jordan River in Canaan. According to the Old Testament and the Quran, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because of their sins, which included rape, homosexuality, robbery, and other unspecified behaviors. The term “Sodom and Gomorrah” has come to describe hedonistic, self-indulgent, or otherwise sinful groups.