Written, directed and executive produced by series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Daniel Palladino, the four-part Netflix series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life brings back countless favorites from the original series, including, of course, Lauren Graham (as Lorelai Gilmore), Alexis Bledel (as Rory Gilmore), Kelly Bishop (as Emily Gilmore) and Scott Patterson (as Luke Danes) while also paying tribute to actor Edward Herrmann (who played Richard Gilmore on the original series), who died in 2014. A true gift to the fans that have supported the series and felt like it deserved the chance to end on its own terms, Stars Hollow has been fully restored in all its glory, from Luke’s Diner to the Dragonfly Inn to Lorelai’s charming Connecticut home.
During a roundtable interview to promote the Netflix revival, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino talked about what ultimately made them want to revisit the world of Gilmore Girls, how easy it was to get back into the show’s snappy dialogue, thinking of these episodes as a whole piece, keeping the underlying theme of family and connection, trying to bring back as many former cast members as possible, and those final four words (or at least, what they’re not).
AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO: We’re not people who just wanted to do it for ourselves. Throughout the years, people were like, “Do a Kickstarter!” It was not about that. It was about when, creatively, is the right moment to do anything. Our hope is that they’re for the fans, but they’re also for people who haven’t seen it. Part of the reason that we love this format of four 90-minute movies, or chapters, or whatever you want to call them, and the idea of taking these characters, who are basically three women in three generations, at a different kind of crossroads in their life and taking them through a year, and seeing where they start and where they end, we just thought, dramatically, was an interesting way to tell a story. For us, it was about, yes, we love our fans and here they go, but hopefully it will appeal to people who haven’t seen the show before. It’s three stories of three women, and three of the best actors walking the planet, at the top of their game. Anytime you get to work and write for people who can do the things that these actors can do, I’ll rise from the grave to write Lauren Graham anything she wants.
Was it easy to get back into the snappy dialogue of the show?
AMY: It was extremely easy. Talking slow has never been in our zeitgeist. In life, I feel like people talk faster than they usually do on screen, and I don’t understand why, when somebody asks you if you want a cup of coffee, you can’t just say yes or no. Why do you have to have four expressions, and then look and think? You don’t. You know if you want coffee, or if you don’t want coffee.
Were you able to take things even further with Netflix, than you were when you did the series for network TV?
AMY: The trick was not about taking the snappy banter further. Because it’s 90 minutes with no commercials, it was varying the feel of each piece enough, so that it doesn’t just feel like a hail storm and everything resonates. It’s a whole piece. For all of us – the actors and us writing it – it was about figuring out where those moments were where you were hitting that, and where the moments were when you needed to take a step back and feel the moment, so that it feels like a cohesive creative piece.
DAN PALLADINO: We did what we did on the series, and we spent months on the stories, which are really the most important thing for us. The frosting on the cake is the dialogue. By the time we get to writing it, the story is all laid out, so the dialogue comes very naturally and fast and quick. The story is there to be the foundation for it.
What were the biggest advantages for you, in working with Netflix?
AMY: Network TV is very touchy right now. They’re really there to sell soap, in a sense. They’ve cut the format of shows up, and everything is geared toward a commercial.
DAN: It was four acts and it was an hour long, but now, they’re up to six or seven acts.
AMY: Our best episodes, we would not have been able to do because the last 30 seconds were our most emotional part of the show, and that would have been cut. It just became a format that is not creatively fun to write in anymore, which is what’s so great about something like Netflix or Amazon, and these great services. Just from a purely creative standpoint, it’s pure storytelling for the sake of storytelling, and it’s not dictated by what marketing is saying you need to do or not do. Without the world that we live in now, where we live in the world of Netflix, I just don’t think we would have ever revisited this. I just don’t think it would have happened.
When you sat down to write these scripts, had the world changed to the point where the themes for this had to change, or did you just pick things up and use the same themes as before?
AMY: I think the theme was always family and connection. I always felt like the underlying thing about Gilmore was that, if you happened to be born into a family that doesn’t really understand you, go out and make your own. That’s what Lorelai did. She went out and she made her own family. The ironic twist in her life is that then this daughter that she created this whole family for, likes the family that she left. It was a cycle of crazy family. So, as long as we were being true to the nature of that, walking back into that world was very easy. We went in and pitched four 90-minute movies, and then we walked out and went, “How are we going to fill 90 minutes?” When you’re on network television, it’s not an hour, it’s 42 minutes, and we were talking about 90 minutes packed. And then, by the time we were finished breaking out the story, we had to take stuff out because we just had way too much stuff.
Where are Rory and Lorelai, when we pick up with them?
AMY: They’re 10 years later. Lorelai is working and living her life in Stars Hollow, and Rory has been pursuing her career. The whole thing picks up six months after Richard’s passing, and we delve into how that’s going to project them all into different life streams.
Was it different to write for Rory, now that she’s an adult with a life outside of Lorelai and Stars Hollow?
AMY: Not really. It was actually really fun. Rory was always such a good girl, and she was so focused and such a good student. Even though, during the series, we played with a moment of disillusionment and dropping out of college, she got her shit back together. So, it was fun to play with Rory and Lorelai, who we always saw as best friends first, and mother and daughter second. It’s how we always broke stories. We broke girlfriend stories, not mother-daughter stories. It was interesting to now play them as girlfriends, who travel, talk on the phone and keep in touch the way that I do with my friends. It’s just that they also happen to be mother and daughter. It was more interesting. I think Alexis had some more fun playing Rory as a grown up human being, with the problems that come with being a grown up human being.
Because we get those last four words by the end of these episodes, does that mean that this is most likely it for Gilmore Girls?
DAN: It’s not, “Here come the aliens.” I can tell you that that’s not what it is. I can tell you that it’s very organic, what happens at the end.
AMY: These four are the story we wanted to tell. They were not set up to be anything other than what they are. But in the world of family and in the world of life, it’s never ending.
DAN: I f no one wants to broadcast them, I think Amy and I, in our old age, are going to be like, “What if Luke says this?!”
Were there any characters you were excited to get to spend more time with?
AMY: All of them!
DAN: We love writing for all of them, but Amy writing for Lorelai Gilmore has always been really special. No surprise, they’re kind of dopplegangers. Lauren brings a lot of that energy. Lauren and Amy are very, very similar, and Amy and Lorelai are very, very similar. That character is a great cipher for a lot of what Amy is and has been, from the very beginning. We went out of our way to get as many of our side characters back in, organically. We couldn’t bring everybody back because it wasn’t just a nostalgia trip, so we didn’t want people just coming in.
AMY: It had to fit into the story.
DAN: If there are more – and who knows because we haven’t discussed that, at all – we would love to bring other people back. Everyone is going to be very happy with the world. It’s the Gilmores. It’s Stars Hollow in all of its nutty glory. It’s a big, wide canvas.
AMY: And it was this great reunion because we got to start with Lauren and Alexis [Bledel]. And then, Sean Gunn showed up. And then, Liza Weil was there. Every day, somebody else came in that we got to hang out with.
How much were you able to get Melissa McCarthy back for?
AMY: We got her for one day, but we utilized that day. We worked her! It was a big scene.
DAN: She left exhausted, but it was great. She brought her classic game. It was really fun working with her. It was really nice to bring her back and give her something to hang her hat on.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is available on Netflix on November 25th.