All four episodes of Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival will premiere on Friday, Nov. 25, and show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is very happy with how it all turned out. Speaking of shifting the show to Netflix, she said, “It’s a great way to tell stories using characters we loved but in a completely different way.” Speaking to members of the Television Critics Association meeting in Los Angeles, Sherman-Palladino and a panel of stars that included Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel were asked by a breathless squadron of fans — er, professional TV critics — to express why the show has an appeal that seems fresh even today.
While Sherman-Palladino’s answer was typically blunt — “It’s about the s*** in your family that never gets worked out” — Graham’s take was at once more philosophical and specific to this moment in our history: “I think it’s because the show is extremely comforting … in a world of TV shows that are extremely stressful — good, but stressful — this offers something different that people really respond to.”
Which is not to say there wasn’t a certain amount of stress for Sherman-Palladino, a writer-producer who operates like a true television auteur and wanted to retain as much control as possible over her baby. For example: She was against Netflix’s standard policy of releasing all four episodes on the same day. (The episodes are seasonally themed, and it’s obvious that they were designed to be spread over the course of a year.) Asked if she objected to Netflix’s dump-’em-all-out-there plan, she was forthright: “I told them [if they did,] I was going to hang myself with a shower curtain. They said…” And here co-producer Daniel Palladino finished his wife’s sentence: “… ‘What size shower curtain do you want?’” Clearly, Netflix would not budge.
One of Amy’s misgivings was that some fans would skip forward to the famous Last Four Words. Among Gilmore fans, it is legendary that the original series was meant to end with four revelatory words, written by Amy and guarded like the specifics of Donald Trump’s tax returns. The Palladinos left the show before its final season on The CW, and those famous four words were never uttered. Of the new set of episodes, Amy said, “It was such a build to the last four words, [and] I was worried that now people are going to skip to the end and go on the Internet and [spoil] it.” Which will probably happen, but, says Amy, “You can’t always get what you want. I mean, I don’t have the a** I want.”
What all participants agree is that the aging of the characters works in the new episodes’ favor. “It was literally like no time had passed,“ said Graham of the cast reunion and rehearsals. “There was no sense of having to resuscitate something.” And Amy noted that now, Gilmore Girls is no longer just a show about a mother and daughter, “It’s about two women, chicks who can have cocktails together and talk about s***.”
And talk they will, as you can see in the trailer above. But the press conference and this brief glimpse of #Gilmore2016 suggest that there continues to be something both whimsically magical and hard-headedly enduring about Gilmore Girls. Amy hinted at some of this when she said that, over the years, “People come up to me and say the show gave me opportunities to talk with my daughter, [that] she wanted to go to Yale because of Rory.”
Yes, Rory and her mom, Lorelai, were a triumphant invention: a realistic fantasy of how a female relationship could be, ought to be, will be. But beyond that, the show is also a great argument for an increased variety of tone, a quality much needed even in this age of Too Much Great TV. There needs to be a definition of Great TV that encompasses both Breaking Bad and Gilmore Girls, that prizes the snappy patter of Lorelai and Rory as much as it does the rumbling spectacle of Game of Thrones. In November, we’ll get to see whether Gilmore Girls can assume the mantle of Great TV once again.