STORY WRITTEN BY ROB LOWMAN
Southern California News Group
Can you go home again? Will they still love you? Will it feel the same?
These are questions the “Gilmore Girls” and its fans are asking.
The beloved series that ran from 2000-’07 on the WB and later CW networks has been revived for four hotly anticipated 90-minute chapters, each launching globally on Netflix today.
When the “Gilmore Girls” debuted, it told the story of a close relationship between a 32-year-old mother (Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore) and her 16-year-old daughter (Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore). Their stories were often entwined in the lives of the eccentric characters in their cozy town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut and visits to Luke’s Diner.
“It’s amazing to know that people are eagerly awaiting the release of these episodes and have loved the show all these years,” says the now 35-year-old Bledel who is reprising her role as Rory.
“I think it’s because it’s extremely comforting in a world that is lacking comfort,” says Graham, now 49, about the enduring appeal of “GG.”
Under the heading “A Year in the Life,” the four new episodes will bring back a number of the original characters from the show, including Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s tough mother (Kelly Bishop) and Luke Danes, owner of the diner and Lorelai’s other half (Scott Patterson). The new series will also pay tribute to the late Edward Herrmann who played Lorelai’s father. The actor died in 2014.
The four episodes — written, directed and executive produced by series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino — depicts each season over a year in Stars Hollow. Of course, nothing much happens in the picturesque berg. The installation of a new sewer system is the issue at hand, but “Gilmore Girls” always provided an emotional landscape for its fans.
At its heart, it has always been about the incredible bond of love between Lorelai and Rory, which is rendered so engagingly that it’s fair to say everyone might wish to have a relationship like that.
“It’s not a story about a little girl who’s in high school anymore,” says Graham about the new show. “It’s a story about a young woman and kind of the struggles she faces.”
Yet the actress notes that the dynamics between Lorelai and her mother and between Lorelai and Rory remain the same even if they have grown older.
In the original story, the young Lorelai Gilmore had fled her disapproving parents in upscale Hartford at 16 to give birth to a daughter, Rory, and remake her life in Stars Hollow.
As warm as Rory’s relationship is with Lorelai, the one between Rory’s mother and grandmother is chilly. Often, Rory finds herself trying to make peace between them, and as she grew older, tried to find her place between the two strong women.
The storyline for the new season finds all three of the Gilmore women facing new challenges in their lives. Though Rory graduated from Yale and began a career in journalism when the series ended in 2007, she now finds herself unable to land a full-time job and must scramble around freelancing.
Lorelai is still together with Luke, but she is unsure about what to do with her life and feels somewhat in a rut. Emily finds herself alone and still coping with the death of her husband.
Sherman-Palladino says what is great about writing for the show is that “it never was going to run out of conflict. It wasn’t just a show about a high school girl and her mom. Eventually it became about two women. Suddenly, they can have cocktails together. They can sit and drink and talk.”
One thing “Gilmore Girls” was famous for was its witty, rapid-fire banter. That won’t change in its new incarnation.
Graham says it’s her favorite part of this show. “Having done a different type of language entirely on ‘Parenthood,’ I was actually kind of craving this kind of structure, slightly more theatrical, elevated,” says the actress. “It brought me back to the first time I read this part and fell in love with it. It just feels like such a perfect fit. I just couldn’t believe I got to do it again.”
Netflix found there was still an appetite for “Gilmore Girls” after it picked up all 153 of the original episodes a few years ago.
Since the characters were older and changed, Sherman-Palladino didn’t want the new show to appear static.
Some of it will be familiar. The show was able to bring back Melissa McCarthy and Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”) who had been supporting actors in the original series for arcs in the new episodes.
Some of it won’t. There is even a fake musical written into the new show, involving Tony Award-winners Sutton Foster and Christian Borle. The pair appear as part of a regional theater troupe. There are also four songs from Jeanine Tesori, the composer of “Fun Home” and “Violet.”
“I don’t think we would have wanted to have brought back anything that resembled a traditional series,” says Sherman-Palladino. “Netflix was really, really open to a new format. So we pitched exactly what we ended up with, which was four 90-minute chapters taking place over the course of a year. In the old days, there just wouldn’t have been an outlet for that.”
The writer adds, it was wonderful to be able to get in a room with these actors “and go at it again but in a completely different way.”
In the new episodes, Bledel’s character is now the age her mother was at the start of the series, and fans are wondering about her romantic life.
Bledel says all her ex-boyfriends will make an appearance in the new chapters in one way or another. Matt Czuchry’s Logan and Ventimiglia’s Jess do have prominent roles in the new episodes.
“It was great to work with all of them again,” she says, but the actress wouldn’t give up anything about any new love interests.
Graham says the chance to do “Gilmore Girls” again was like getting to go back to college when you’re really ready.
“What an incredible opportunity to have and how rare the time is,” says the actress. “We were given the gift to get to go back knowing those things, and it just felt really emotional.”
Contact Rob Lowman at email@example.com or @RobLowman1 on Twitter.
Kelly Bishop, from left, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the summer episode of the four-part “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” on Netflix. Photo by Robert Voets/Netflix
Scott Patterson, from left, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the spring episode of the four-part “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” on Netflix. Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Milo Ventimiglia, left, as Jess Mariano and Scott Patterson as Luke Danes in the fall episode of the four-part “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” on Netflix. Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Alexis Bledel, from left, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop and Lauren Graham in the winter episode of the four-part “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” on Netflix. Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Photo illustration by Kay Scanlon/SCNG