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“I will never get tired of talking about this. I will be doing panels until I’m 95 years old,” Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham told audience members at the Netflix FYSee panel held Thursday night in Beverly Hills.
The panel, moderated by Graham’s former Parenthood co-star Mae Whitman, allowed Graham to reflect on her time on the WB show that grew to become a pop culture phenomenon.
When discussing the success of the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life revival on Netflix, Graham noted that the show continues to be a dark horse for television success. On the red carpet, Graham told The Hollywood Reporter, “Netflix was like, ‘We knew people liked it, but, gosh, we had no idea!’ We came back because of mainly the women who loved it, and I just think that’s still something people are surprised about.”
In the Peak TV era, Graham acknowledges that Gilmore Girls continues to be a safe place that audiences can rely on to offer an escape from reality. “I think so many other shows present a more dystopian world. We’re still somewhat unusual in that it’s such a cozy place to go, especially if you’re a bingeing-type person, you can spend a lot of time there,” Graham told THR.
While she views the show as one that was “underestimated, in a way,” Graham knew that the foundation of the show was something that resonated and continues to personally resonate with fans today after all these years. “Whatever is going [on] in life, [the show] is mainly a happy place to go,” said Graham. “We have our ups and downs, but it’s a wonderful place to live and eat and have friends and family.”
Graham also recalled when she was first introduced to the script. Although Graham felt as if she was stuck in limbo between being a dramatic or comedic actor, she believed that she was “always sort of in-between,” and Gilmore Girls offered all of the elements to allow her to do both. “To me, this was one of the first times that I looked at something and I was like, ‘It’s serious and it’s funny! It’s deep and it’s light,’ especially then, I had never seen before,” Graham told THR.
Although it returned to the screen nine years after the original, the revival proved to be a massive success for the streaming service. At the time when the possibility of a film adaptation was being discussed, Graham noted that Netflix was the “perfect” place for it. “We started getting asked about doing a movie, and then the world changed and streaming happened and Netflix happened. It just felt like this perfect place to have this show that always wanted to be longer than a TV episode.”
Graham noted that creator and executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, executive producer Dan Palladino, had the creative freedom at Netflix to explore the fan-favorite show. “You could always feel it busting out of the seams of commercial breaks,” said Graham. “[Sherman-Palladino] and Dan got to make it what they wanted it to be, which was bigger than a TV episode, slightly shorter than a film.”
Despite the original series going off the air in 2007, Graham explained that reuniting with the cast and stepping into the shoes of the character she lived and breathed for seven seasons felt natural. Although the reunion was joyful, the loss of Edward Herrmann, who portrayed Richard Gilmore for all 154 episodes of the original series, was evident while filming. The actor passed away in December 2014, prior to talks of a revival.
Getting choked up, Graham and Whitman discussed the revival’s “pretzel speech,” a monologue that Graham’s Lorelai gave to mother Emily (Kelly Bishop) over the phone about her favorite memory of her father (Herrmann). “Losing Ed was a hole in our hearts,” said Graham. “We couldn’t address that in a glossy way.”
Despite feeling sadness over an absent Herrmann, Graham considered returning to the show a gift and an uplifting experience. “The fact that we were all together, we all stayed friends, our relationships had changed and matured just like in the story … it felt like an incredible gift, and I was just full of joy, and that didn’t go away,” said Graham.
The revival left fans with cliff-hangers and a lot of unanswered questions. When one fan asked who the father of Rory’s baby was and whether there would be more revival episodes, Graham was quick to respond: “I can address both, and it won’t be satisfying.”
Even though she was unsure of who the father is, Graham told the audience that Sherman-Palladino and Alexis Bledel (who plays Rory) know whom they think it is. In terms of making future installments of the revival, Graham said that she is open to it, but feels that it would be important to ensure a return would be something pleasing for viewers.
“I will never have a happier day at work as I had over the years on this show or is something that is a fit. … It’s a person that I love and in a world that I believe in, with language that I’m thrilled by,” Graham explained to the audience. “Would I do it on Netflix again? Sure, but there are people that have better objectivity than I with saying what is best for the show. You could never please everybody. … We would just want to make sure it could be pleasing.”
Graham also joked that the cliff-hangers could be the perfect gift for fans, telling a laughing audience, “It feels a little like she left you hanging, but I think it’s for your own good.”
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