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What's next for ''Gilmore Girls''

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Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, ...
Gilmore Girls: Lance Staedler/WB

Talk about an unlikely recipe for TV success: Debut your one-hour dramedy — starring a wisecracking 32-year-old single mom and her brainy 16-year-old daughter — opposite ”Friends” and ”Survivor,” then yank it to Tuesday nights (8 p.m.) to battle the cult of ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Well, that’s exactly what the WB did with ”Gilmore Girls,” which now routinely kicks Buffy’s well-toned butt and has become the WB’s third-highest-rated show, enjoying a 50 percent ratings spike. ”I thought we were gonna get slaughtered by ‘Buffy,”’ admits ”Gilmore” creator and exec producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, a longtime ”Buffy” fan herself. ”There’s such a media campaign for that show. Driving down the highway every day I see a big red thing [billboard] with her eyes staring at me.”

And the news just keeps getting better. Lauren Graham, who plays mom Lorelai, recently earned the show’s first Golden Globe nod (she lost to ”Alias”’ Jennifer Garner) and ”Gilmore Girls” has been renewed for a third season. Sherman-Palladino says that as long as the stars and writers stay ”vertical and breathing,” the series will follow daughter Rory into college (Harvard perhaps?) and find Lorelai exploring what could become a ”permanent relationship.” ”The thing that’s so great about family shows is that you never run out of conflict. No matter what age you are, your parents will always completely drive you insane,” says the former ”Roseanne” writer. ”’The Waltons’ went on forever, ‘Roseanne’ went on nine years, ‘All in the Family’ was on for years. I think we could have that kind of shelf life.”

It’s all a bit much for Alexis Bledel, the 20-year-old who plays Rory. Bledel was an NYU student and part-time model with zero professional acting experience who auditioned for the show on a whim — while also applying for waitress and census-taker positions to earn tuition money. ”All of this happened so fast,” Bledel tells EW.com. ”I never thought they would hire me, because it seemed ridiculous to hire somebody who had never done any acting before.”