Gilmore Girls makes triumphant return to Netflix

Four new 90-minute episodes breathe life into the defunct Gilmore saga 10 years after its demise

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 5:26pm

Just when we thought the Gilmore Girls had shuffled off to the TV bone yard, they are back, chatting like rappers on speed and proving you can go home again.

Creator-writer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has assembled most of the original cast of the long-running Gilmore Girls series for four new 90-minute episodes. They transport the audience over the course of a year in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. The series began streaming on November 25 on Netflix.

It’s been a little more than a decade since the young single mum Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her precocious daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) bonded their way into adulthood, while on-again-off-again boyfriend Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) bided his time.

“It’s not a story about a little girl any more, who’s in high school,” says Graham, 49, who has since co-starred in Parenthood, Web Therapy and The Odd Couple.

“It’s a story about a young woman and kind of the struggles she faces. Yet the dynamics … between these two characters, they’ve grown up, but they’re the same. And that kind of foundation of ‘Here are the people you have to rely on’ can take you through any age. I think that’s what this show continues to tell us about family anyway,” she says.

Sherman-Palladino didn’t harbour much hope that her girls would ever see the quaint town of Stars Hollow again. “When Netflix popped up and decided to storm the world and just take over overnight, we thought, ‘Well, what a great opportunity to delve into a different form, to tell stories in a different way using beloved characters that we loved’,” she says.

“And we get back in a room with these three actors and to be able to go at it again, but in a completely different way … There was no grand master plan. It was just, ‘Hey, there’s a Netflix now, which means we could do a billion minutes because we have a lot of words, and … it was a different form.

“You’re writing not to commercials or to sell soap or tampons. Nobody gives a s***. It’s really just there to tell stories. And it was just such an exciting challenge, and form, and a way to get us all back together again and put on a show.”

Bledel, who’s 35 and has since co-starred in Mad Men, Us & Them, and Jenny’s Wedding, says falling back into the role was like riding a bike. “It really was as if no time had passed,” she says.

“It’s all on the page. Amy’s writing just informs you right away. You know how it’s supposed to be said, and it’s all there for you … It’s amazing to know that people are eagerly awaiting the release of these episodes, and that they have loved the show all these years … It’s why we do this, to be able to communicate something that people are going to love and talk about and enjoy it together.”

It’s more than just enjoyment, says Patterson, 58, who has co-starred in Aliens in America, Meth Head and The Event. He says the original show has left its indelible mark on those we least expect.

“I was walking through the Austin airport, and a fellow walked up to me and just started crying, and he said he was in a sniper battalion in Iraq, in Fallujah, and he had done four tours. And they watched Gilmore Girls obsessively. It’s a safe place for them. It’s like nothing bad can happen while they’re watching that show. He even got his commanding officer on the cell phone, who was in Fort Bragg and about to be shipped back over. And he said, ‘I’m standing here with Luke.’ And he goes, ‘F*** no!’ I mean, it was just this huge reaction. It was kind of amazing.”

The 90-minute episodes follow the seasons and are titled for each, starting with Winter. While Lorelai and her mother Emily (Kelly Bishop) face family patriarch Richard’s death in their own way, they also find their relationship affected by it.

Rory’s romantic past is a factor as all of her ex-boyfriends appear in the series “one way or another”, says Bledel. So is the character’s journalism career, and while Bledel is aware that her character’s love life intrigues viewers, she’d like them to consider the complete young woman.

“There is so much more to her character that it’s great when people focus on those things, on her ambition and her accomplishments and her goals,” the actress says.

Given that all the episodes will be made available at once on streaming service Netflix, Sherman-Palladino sees trouble on the horizon.

After holding close the four words she’s long said should end the Gilmore saga (she wasn’t in charge of the show’s last season on the CW network), she wants viewers to avoid spoiling the experience, either by posting the phrase or by impatiently jumping to the final scene.

“I do want to say what was so great about this [project] is I really feel like we got to do it together,” says Sherman-Palladino.

“The first show was, like: You cast. You get on a plane. You don’t know anyone. You’re in Canada. It’s cold. You’re wandering around. It’s like you’re exhausted. There’s elevenses. I don’t know what it is, it’s like Lord of the Rings. And then you’re in this whirlwind of production, and you’re tired, and you’re sick, and you don’t feel well, and you’re throwing up, and you don’t remember when you got your hair done last, and then it’s over.

“And this time I felt like, because we would talk, and we were all in contact, and it felt like we got to sit and say, ‘Do we want to go on this journey together? Do we want to band together and like – Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland, this s***?’ And for me … there will be nothing else in my career like what we got to do.”