'Gilmore Girls': A deep dive into the 'thousand yellow daisies' scene
In Gilmore Girls‘ first season finale, Lorelai explains to her boyfriend Max (Scott Cohen) what a proper proposal should look like: “There should be a thousand yellow daisies, and candles, and a horse, and I don’t know what the horse is doing there unless you’re riding it, which seems a little over-the-top…” Max takes Lorelai’s words to heart—leading to one of the show’s most romantic and visually arresting moments. Here’s how it came together.
First, the show had to bring Lorelai to the moment when she dreams up the daisies in the first place.
AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO, CREATOR-DIRECTOR: One of the lovely things about Lorelai was the complete lack of thought that went into a lot of her blurts, then living with the consequences. I love my girl for that.
It felt like a very Lorelai thing to do to blurt out something— if you really ask Lorelai, I don’t think she considers herself an ultra-gushy romantic. She loves the boys and she loves the flirting and she loves the sex, but as far as down on one knee, stuff like that? That’s not her style. She was so pissed that this proposal would come out of a moment of weird jealousy and weird guy sh–, which is not what a proposal is supposed to come out of.
We loved doing sh– like that on Gilmore Girls—that something important comes out of something else. I think for Lorelai, that fight was supposed to just sort of put an end to the marriage talk altogether. It was not supposed to plant a seed.
Much thought was put into the choice of flower.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: It wouldn’t be roses. Daisies are such a hardy, everyday-Joe kind of flower, a flower you can really get behind. A blue collar flower. We didn’t want it to be daffodils or something sort of wispy and too Jane Austen-y. We wanted it to be something really real.
Next came actually acquiring the daisies.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: A thousand yellow daisies actually sounds like a lot, but when you put a thousand yellow daisies in a big room, like our set, it’s kind of like a table arrangement. Three or four times we had to send people back to get yellow daisies. I think we wiped out yellow daisies on the West Coast.
The great thing about our Gilmore crew was they knew that we were sticklers for what was in the script. So they showed up with a thousand yellow daisies. It was my first time directing. I walk in the room and it’s like, “really?” I’m like, “We have to fill the whole room.” The whole point is she walks into this room of daisies and yellow and beauty.
Production designer Sandy Veneziano and crew scoured everywhere—the studio’s greens department, nurseries, and grocery stores. (Some blooms were fake.)
SANDY VENEZIANO, PRODUCTION DESIGNER: We cheated a little bit on some of the shots. We would push the background daisies—if it wasn’t a wide shot—further in and put some on apple boxes so they were a little higher and filled the space.
But it’s not as if the daisies request came completely out of the blue.
VENEZIANO: We were getting used to surprises in the show. Every other show there was something: fall festival and pumpkins and scarecrows and hay bags or a snowstorm. It was a fun show to work on because there was always something new design-wise to create and put forth.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: We had no money on Gilmore, especially that first year. We were trying to trade sexual favors for snow.
Thousands of daisies created a stunning effect.
VENEZIANO: It was like a sea of yellow. It was just amazing. There was a reaction, but then that’s enough—it’s time to shoot.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: Once we started playing out camera angles, I had [crew] guys that looked like they’d just murdered a family on the freeway yelling from the rafters, saying, “You’ve got to shoot from up here, it’s gorgeous.” Suddenly everyone’s a florist. People got really into how we shot it, the romance of it, and the look. It was quite a lovely picture and everywhere you put the camera it was pretty.
For Lauren [Graham], it might have been one of her favorite scenes ever because it’s one of the few times she didn’t have to say anything.
So, how many daisies did the show actually end up using?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: Oh my God, it’s thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands. I think we all lost count at some point. At some point I could see there were five or six people who were so sick of talking about yellow flowers with me. Like, “executive producer gets killed, daisies shoved down throat.” That was sort of in my future.
A version of this article appears in Entertainment Weekly‘s Oct. 24 issue.