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.
In S1E19, Emily is recounting to Lorelai how difficult her search for dining chairs had been. Emily says, “I blame Peg Mossley.” Rory asks, “What did Peg Mossley do?” and Lorelai responds, “She lured these two German children to her gingerbread house and then she tried to eat them.” (Emily later explains that Peg Mossley stole all of Emily’s best antiquing spots.)
Lorelai is referencing the tale of Hansel and Gretel, formally written by the Grimm Brothers in the early nineteenth century. In the story, two German children are abandoned in the woods. They stumble across a cottage made of sweets and are quickly lured inside and captured by the old woman who lives there. She plans to fatten them up and eat them, although the children defeat her in the end.
In S1E5, Lorelai walks in on Babette cleaning out Cinnamon’s abundance of medications. Lorelai says, “Wow. It’s like a scene from the kitty version of ‘Valley of the Dolls.'”
“Valley of the Dolls” is a 1967 film based on a book by Jacqueline Susann. The story follows three young women who meet on the set of a Broadway show and become friends. Their paths diverge, but they all eventually turn to “dolls” (prescription drugs) to cope with the difficulties of life.
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, Lorelai is ranting to Sookie about how Emily told her that Rory would leave if Gran gives her the trust fund money. Lorelai says, “God, I know this is crazy. I have my mother’s voice stuck in my head. It’s like that annoying Cranberries song.”
The Cranberries are a rock band from Ireland who rose to fame in the early 90s. “That annoying ‘Cranberries’ song” is likely “Zombie,” which everyone seems to hate.”
“Zombie” was released as the lead single The Cranberries’ second album, “No Need to Argue.” It was received well in Europe, reaching No. 1 on several European charts. Take a listen and decide for yourself:
In S1E18, Lorelai is talking to Sookie about Gran offering Rory a trust fund. Lorelai sees that it’s getting late and says, “I have to change and go to tea with Gran and the cast of ‘Gaslight.'”
“Gaslight” is a 1944 movie (based on a 1938 play) starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. The story is about a murderer who marries a woman and then convinces her that she is going insane just to access the woman’s aunt’s fortune. He manufactures strange situations and then tells the woman that she must be imagining things. In the end, the woman finds out what’s happening and tortures her husband briefly before having him arrested.
In S1E18, Lorelai tells Sookie that her grandmother has offered to give Rory her trust fund early to pay for Chilton, but Rory doesn’t know yet. Sookie suggests, “Page her and have her call my cellphone and we can sing the money song from ‘Cabaret.’ You can be Liza, I’ll be Joel.”
Cabaret is a musical that opened on Broadway in 1966. Sookie is talking about the 1972 film adaptation though, starring Liza Minelli and Joel Grey. Minelli’s character is a singer at the Kit Kat Klub in pre-World War II Berlin, and Grey is the Master of Ceremonies at the same club. “Money Money” is the song Sookie mentions.
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.