[Warning: This story contains spoilers from all four installments of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.]
Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is breathing a sigh of relief. After spending years fiercely protecting and hiding those famed final four words with which she had always hoped to end the beloved series, the secret is officially out.
"I'm just so happy that it's out there now and that people are getting to see these because we've been living with them for so long," she tells The Hollywood Reporter days after the Nov. 25 release of the four-part event. "We feel such a relief that they're out in the world and we can talk to our friends and family again."
As many already know, the four-part revival ended with Rory (Alexis Bledel) telling Lorelai (Lauren Graham) that she is pregnant. Before either of the talkative twosome could utter another word, the screen cut to black and the credits on the series began to roll.
For all the big developments in Lorelai's life - her marriage to Luke - and Emily's life - her move to Nantucket and her decision to start wearing Keds sneakers - it was Rory's current state of affairs, ahem, that threw loyal viewers for the biggest loop.
Despite her relationship with the underwhelming Paul and his engagement to a French heiress named Odette, Rory and Logan were still somewhat together through most of the revival. Although Rory had one great article published in The New Yorker - available on every Luke's Diner menu ever made - she struggled to land steady work and subsequently moved back home to run the Stars Hollow Gazette and continue searching for her lost underwear. In the end, she found her true calling when she began writing a book, Gilmore Girls, about her mother and herself.
So why was Rory's (seemingly) unexpected baby news the right way to end the show? When was she originally supposed to have a child had Sherman-Palladino, and her husband and executive producer Dan Palladino not left after season six? And what does the future look like for new episodes of Gilmore Girls now that the four-part revival is finally out?
THR spoke to the married writing, directing and exec-producing pair about all that and more.
Looking at the ending, why were there four words and this huge life event for Rory, the right way to end these chapters and to end the show?
Dan Palladino: Amy had thought about that early on in the series. She's only discussed it with me and… that kind of moment between mother and daughter, that happening, and to have this sort of an open ending as far as, then what is the path from there, always felt right to us.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: These two women are very tied. They're very tied and to me, that history repeating itself and daughter following in mother's footsteps, where you lead, I will follow - we took the [theme] song very seriously. When we picked those words and we went down that path, it just felt right then and it actually feels even more right now especially because Rory is older. She's the same age Lorelai was when the show started. It really does feel a little Lion King-y, the whole circle of life.
As Dan just said, you thought of this ending a long time ago. When you first came up with this idea, how old was Rory originally supposed to be when she became pregnant?
Palladino: We don't know when the series would have ended, although I think seven years is a great time to end a series.
Sherman-Palladino: I agree.
Palladino: Series don't get better past the seventh year almost ever. … So I think the initial run was just the right amount of time and we probably would have done it then which means Rory probably would have been 22, 23 and faced with that.
Sherman-Palladino: Out of college.
Palladino: And faced with debt. If we had brought this back 18 years after the original series, it would have been a little ridiculous. It was just the right amount of time that it's still an issue. Younger people are younger a little longer these days, so we know a lot of 32-year-olds who are still quite young, haven't quite gotten their life paths completely decided yet. And that felt like it felt right for Rory still and it felt right that those last four [words] and that specific ending could still work for these women.
The ending leaves it ambiguous as to who the father is. Why did you decide to leave that unconfirmed?
Sherman-Palladino: It really wasn't about the father; it was about the event. People can make their own conclusions about who the father is, there's not a thousand choices out there, but it really wasn't about the boy because, quite frankly, one of the things that's always been a little weird is how obsessed with Rory's love life everybody got when the point of the show was never about their love lives. Their love lives were a part of their lives but these were women really grappling with who they were as people and when they talked about their paths forward, especially Rory, it was usually about getting in The New York Times or breaking into journalism so it felt like the moment was on Rory and her future and not on, 'Gee, which boy is this?' That's always taken a backseat when we've broken stories on Gilmore.
Speaking about her career, she really struggled to make it as a journalist in the revival. How did you decide that that was the right way for her professional life to go in these episodes?
Sherman-Palladino: You know, it's a tough time to be a journalist! (Laughs.) You have to look at the world around you. We're newspaper readers, but everyday newspapers like our beloved New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are getting hit right and left. It's a tough time if you're already an established journalist, especially more so for someone who hasn't gotten a toe-hold in the world yet. So we had to look at the choice that she made and then reflect it in these shows and it helped, in a weird way, because she is floundering and we didn't want to say that she wasn't a good writer and she wasn't able to break in because of her abilities. We wanted to say that she, unfortunately, picked the exact wrong time to pick this career choice and reflect a little bit of what's going on in the world with journalism where, unfortunately, news is getting muddied and it's a tough road for somebody like her.
When and how did you come up with that part of the revival, that she would end up becoming an author and writing this book about her and her mom?
Palladino: I think that just came up in our deliberations. We knew that we wanted her struggling and we didn't want her just to suddenly fall into some sort of dream job, say at The New York Times…
Sherman-Palladino: Because it wouldn't be real.
Palladino: Yeah, it wouldn't be real. It just felt right that somebody important in her life, who Jess is, helped guide her towards… By the way, we don't even really know how successful it's going to be. We just know that she was happy to write it and it seemed like it is pointing towards a sort of career breakthrough for her It just came up and it just felt like the right variation for us as we were discussing these for those many months that we spent alone in a room.
Another development with Rory was she had this boyfriend named Paul that she kept forgetting about and kept cheating on with Logan. How concerned were you about possibly making Rory unlikeable?
Palladino: This is something that Amy and I have each experienced in our personal lives with family and friends and their reactions to significant others. Sometimes they are in between people; the person is not who we are destined to live our whole lives with. And we talked to friends about this. And we always thought it was really, really funny to sort of like… No one's ever going to be enough for their own children so that's what Lorelai was going through. And then I think for Rory, she was not nice to this guy. She did the wrong thing because her life was just…
Sherman-Palladino: A mess.
Palladino: She had no foundation. We watched this one at a screening in L.A. with a group of people and we were surprised that this group of fans, they really responded. They loved the concept of this. … I think everybody kind of relates to a boy, a girl in family member's life or a friend's life that is just like, this is not the person.
Sherman-Palladino: You just know they're not going to be around very long.
Palladino: They're nice and they're good people. And in the end, Lorelai says, "He's going to find someone great. You weren't it." Just as he wasn't it for her.
Sherman-Palladino: I also think you can't go into any story-breaking process thinking, 'What if they come off as unlikeable?' You just gotta break the story because if you know who your character is, the story will tell you. The story will dictate and say, "This feels off-kilter for this particular person." And it never quite felt like that for us because we were playing Rory in a bit of denial about everything in her life. She was in denial about what her career was, in denial that her living situation was less than delightful and in denial about what her romantic life was. Some people go through times in their lives when they don't make the best choices. It doesn't mean they're bad people, it just means that's a particularly weird time that they're going through and later on, when they're old, they can sit there and go, 'Wow, I was kind of a dick for those six months.'
What was the notes process like with WB and with Netflix? How did it compare to when you were working on the original series?
Sherman-Palladino: Here's the thing about Gilmore. When we were first at the WB, our champion left and we were a little stranded because we were that show that was picked up by the lovely lady who went to take another job [former WB president of Entertainment Susanne Daniels] so we were luckily left a lot to our own [devices]. We weren't the big, fancy show. There were no special effects or dinosaurs so as long as we didn't burn the back lot down, they kind of left us alone. And that was also kind of The WB's motto at the time. They were very into like, "We've got the individual voices. We've got Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams and Kevin Williamson so let 'em do whatever they're going to do."
So when we came back, we walked into the pitch with the stories already [planned] and we basically said, "Look, if we were going to do this, here's what we want to do. Here are stories we want to tell. Here's the format we want to do." Because if somebody hadn't wanted to do it that way, I don't think we would have done it. And luckily, Warner Bros. and Netflix, they were all very supportive and they're very supportive of, "This show has its own voice. You've got to kind of let that voice happen." That doesn't mean they didn't have a few notes here and there. And by the way, their notes were very good. And a lot of them were about clarity. … It was a very creatively fulfilling process and they really stepped up and they really let us tell the stories that we wanted to tell. And that happens once in a career sometimes, and we got to do it twice. It's pretty cool.
Now that you've seen the reaction to the revival, how open are you at this point to doing more episodes of Gilmore Girls? What talks, if any, have you had about that?
Sherman-Palladino: We pitched this as close-ended. We pitched it as: "This is the year in the life. This is the way it was ending." ... Netflix and Warner Bros., we all went into this sort of saying that this was it. So there really haven't been any more discussions about: Is there going to be anything else? I don't know.
All four parts of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life are available now on Netflix.