Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino might have pitched the show to The WB as the story of a mother and daughter who were more like best friends, but the show didn’t fully come to life for Sherman-Palladino until the moment a third generation entered the mix: Lorelai’s parents.
Watching the pilot of the series, Sherman-Palladino knew the show was going to work when Lorelai and Rory attended their first-ever Friday-night dinner. “It’s not that the show wouldn’t have been good without them, but seeing the conflict around that table, that to me was a great family dynamic,” Sherman-Palladino tells EW. “Lorelai is made because of her experience with her family, and Emily is Emily because Lorelai left. That added a layer of conflict that allows you to do the comedy, but at the base of it, it’s almost a tragedy.”
That scene was also a crucial moment for star Lauren Graham. “There’s something about going into that house where I had this very simple but big revelation, which is no matter how old you are, you’re still a kid in your parents’ house,” Graham says. “That to me was a real hook in terms of who the character was.”
For Sherman-Palladino, the tragedy of the Gilmores was the perfect thing to balance the quirkiness of Stars Hollow and all of its inhabitants. “It was grounded in something very real, which is how no one can hurt you as deeply as a family member and that hurt can propel you into everything you do,” Sherman-Palladino says. “The tragic thing is it’s a family of disapproval, of disappointment, and that is under everything that happens. It’s under every Friday-night dinner, which was not given freely or as a loving gesture, but was given as a manipulation and blackmail. And that went on to the end of the show.”
Watch EW Reunites: Gilmore Girls here now on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS, and Android devices.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life hits Netflix on Friday, Nov. 25.