Performer of the Week: Lauren Graham

THE PERFORMER | Lauren Graham

THE SHOW | Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

THE EPISODE | “Fall” (Nov. 25, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | It’s not always easy to slip right back into an old TV role. (Just ask Kermit and Miss Piggy.) But nearly a decade after Gilmore Girls The Series ended, Graham picked up right where she left off as motor-mouthed innkeeper Lorelai Gilmore in Netflix’s revival. And in the fourth and final installment, “Fall,” Graham dug deep to tap into a rarely seen reservoir of emotion inside her character.

“Fall” began with Lorelai on a quest to follow Wild (the book, not the movie) and hike her way to self-discovery. Her quest was cut short when she forgot her hiking permit — thanks a lot, Peter Krause! — but the sheer awe on Graham’s face as Lorelai surveyed the gorgeous mountain landscape foretold the epiphany to come.

Lorelai called her mother Emily, choking back tears as she told a heartfelt anecdote about her late father Richard consoling her with a soft pretzel and a movie after a teenage breakup — an anecdote she failed to tell at Richard’s funeral. Lorelai has always buried uncomfortable feelings under a layer of jokey sarcasm. (That’s kind of her thing. And we love her for it.) But here, Graham got to fully explore the raw anguish throbbing underneath — not just the pain of losing her father, but also of never really connecting with her mother. And Graham knocked it out of the park. Seriously, across seven seasons, she’s never been better than she was in that scene.

Yes, the punchlines came fast and furious. And Graham’s comic timing scaled Julia Louis-Dreyfus-level heights in the revival (the proof is in every one of those Lorelai-Emily therapy scenes. Also, go back and marvel at the uproariously subtle beats Graham hits during the “Winter” sequence in which she “meets” Rory’s boyfriend Paul.) But it’s the unexpected dramatic moments that rendered A Year in the Life a triumph — and heralded Graham’s performance in “Fall” a career-best.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION
| As Rectify eased into the back half of its final season, Clayne Crawford‘s gripping work illustrated that there are few things harder to do in this world than ask for a divorce — even more so when you’re not the one desiring it. “I’m going to make it easy for you here, so you don’t have to be the bad guy…,” Teddy said to Tawney, the pain of his sacrifice barely concealed as he pushed out every word. “I’d like to get divorced. Would you grant that for me?” When Tawney quietly consented, Crawford managed to convey a sense of relief mixed with great loss. For though Teddy reassured his wife that their decision was a “piece of cake,” the tears rolling down his cheek made clear that it was a bitter pill to swallow — a fact underscored later as he sneaked back into his marital home to grill up one last steak.

unnamed-1HONORABLE MENTION | As NBC’s Timeless served up one of its best episodes, Malcolm Barrett imbued a surreal situation with real emotion, when Nonhelema handed down her decision to execute prisoners Wyatt and Lucy — but not Rufus, assuming him a slave. “These people didn’t force me to be with them; these people are my friends,” Rufus explained, correcting the Shawnee chieftess. Then, talking about (yet around) their unbelievable purpose: “The thing is, we’re not even supposed to be here. We just want to go home,” he shared. “You can kill them, but if you do, you’re gonna have to kill me, too.” Later, at episode’s end, Barrett (with co-star Claudia Doumit) surprised us with an unexpectedly romantic moment, as a returned Rufus and colleague Jiya came to realize how deep their heretofore unspoken connection is, affirming it with a kiss — Star Wars vs. Star Trek loyalties be damned.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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29 Comments
  1. Whatevah8 says:

    Great pick! Lauren had me in tears during that speech. But you could have picked each Gilmore at different times. I know you get a lot of flack for your Gilmore love so, this works.

  2. Eric7740 says:

    Lauren Graham had better receive her LONG overdue Emmy nomination for this revival!!! She literally hit a homerun!!! And also a much deserving supporting nod to Kelly Bishop!!! Thank you AS-P, Lauren Graham, Kelly Bishop and Alexis Bledel!!!

  3. Amy says:

    Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore was nearly perfect in the original series but she took Lorelai to a whole new level of perfect in the revival. The way she slipped back into the role and made it better is truly remarkable. She made me laugh and cry so many times. Maybe now she will finally be recognized for her brilliant performance.

  4. Kevin says:

    Malcolm Barrett deserves to be one of the honorable mentions this week. Rufus from Timeless is such a great character and a fan favorite in my opinion.

  5. Shaina Ruth says:

    Lauren was perfection from the first sight of her. Her ease at moving from lighthearted banter to soul-crushing drama has always amazed me, but here she took it to a whole new level. I was just floored and I can’t stop watching her!

  6. MMD says:

    Lauren is a terrific pick and so deserving. Her scene hiking/talking to her mother was absolutely epic and raw. It tore me to shreds. I also think the scene in the kitchen with Scott Patterson was the best I have ever seen of them together. It was to a completely new level for both of them.

  7. Dannie C says:

    All of the above!! Lauren is just incredible in every scene. The way she can make you laugh & cry in a nanosecond. #Emmy4Lauren

  8. Pablo says:

    Where’s the cast of This is Us, pretty much all of them did a great job this week, specially Sterling K Brown, shame on you TVline always leaving the talented ones behind.

    • Meg says:

      Cast members of This Is Us have been nominated 4 weeks since the premiere. Gilmore Girls won’t have a chance to be nominated after this week; This Is Us continues on for the rest of the 2016-2017 TV season. I’m sure Sterling K. Brown will have some juicy material coming up, what with William dying and all.

  9. I sobbed during that phone call. It was the one really vulnerable moment between Lorelai and Emily that I was waiting for. Honestly, I wish there’d been more, especially on Emily’s part. But I am thankful for what I got.

  10. Kayte CookWatts says:

    Clayne Crawford is CRAZY talented. I will miss Rectify so much.

    • Robert45 says:

      Thought I was the only one that watches this show. Phenomenal acting by everyone involved. It’s so subtle but I find tears streaming down my face with every episode this season especially with Aden Young – he is just brilliant as Daniel.

      • N!loofar says:

        You’re not alone, this show is perfection. The Americans is the only show with this level of amazing performances, exceptional writing… .

        • Chris says:

          I’ve never seen rectify but will have to check it out because I have become a huge fan of clayne since lethal weapon premieres this fall and didn’t realize he was in it. Can’t wait to start it later tonight

  11. ChrisGa says:

    Lauren Graham gave the most emotionally wide-ranging performance of her career with this revival; both she and Kelly Bishop are long overdue for Emmy noms.

  12. Shru says:

    Yes yes yes yes to this. Lauren Graham was fantastic and this scene (and basically so many others) is the reason she need to be given that Emmy. Also Kelly Bishop deserved one too!

  13. N says:

    I love Teddy and Rufus.

  14. Alec says:

    I hope she get nominated for actress on limited series.

  15. Paul says:

    The Cast of This Is US For The Wonderful Thanksgiving Episode. Seeing The Hurt In Randall”s Face When He Discovered His Adopted Mother Had Kept Him From His Biological Father. Rebecca The Mother As She Watched Her Relationship With Her Son Crumble To Pieces. Every Week These People Knock It Out Of The Park.

  16. Jamie says:

    I know This Is Us cast members are on here a lot, but Sterling K Brown SLAYED this week. The dinner scene was so full of confusion and pain. Surprised he didn’t get at least an honorable mention.

    • MLO says:

      Sterling K Brown is outstanding ALL the time – even when he’s not saying anything. Gotta give someone else a chance otherwise he’d be on the list every frikkin’ week. Seriously, I can’t take my eyes of the man when he’s on screen. He just has something that draws you in.

  17. Joe says:

    Oy give her the Emmy already!

  18. jj. says:

    so many fantastic performances during the gilmore girls revival. I’d love to see lauren finally nominated along with kelly bishop and/or liza weil

  19. Claire says:

    I would have loved to have seen Kelly Bishop and Scott Patterson (for his speech in fall) mentioned, too!

  20. Lauren Graham was absolutely FANTASTIC in this scene. I had tears all over my face. So emotional!!

  21. Erica Silva says:

    Kelly Bishop for the whole Gilmore Girls revival. Displaying all stages of grief, being funny cynical and breaking my heart a few times. Graham was amazing but Bishop was the star.

  22. Toni Watson says:

    I watched the revival 6 times over the weekend. Every single scene Lauren was in was fantastic. She looked fantastic as well. Her hair alone deserves some kind of award. I thought the chemistry between she and Scott was great. The scene between them when she returns was fantastic. I’d heard Scott say that they did their best work together in the revival. I can’t agree more. I loved the scene between Milo and Scott at the diner. Poor Luke was lost without his Lorelai. Very well done. Although I didn’t like the musical part (hello… where was Miss Patty during all of this?!?!?!?) … the song Sutton sang (Unbreakable) and Lauren’s reaction to it was one of my favorite moments. As far as Rory goes…. I was kind of glad that her life wasn’t perfect. She always got everything she worked for. Its nice to see her struggle. I loved the interaction between Alexis and Matt. The whole Life and Death Brigade arc also ranked in my top 5 moments. When she said goodbye to them, the emotions looked very real. Oh Finn… You’ll always be my favorite too. Kelly’s Emily was on point. Emily told Lorelai once that her life was being Richards wife. The fact that she chose to sell the house, quite the DAR was perfect for me. Each time one of them said hello to Richards portrait just made my heart swell. I think they honored him well. Do we want more??? YES, but I am satisfied with the ending, and would be ok if it ended here. To Lauren, Scott, Alexis, Kelly, Matt, Milo, Jared, Melissa, Keiko, Liza, Sean and Yanic.. Thank you all so much for returning to the characters we all love so much. And to Amy and Daniel, thank you for bringing all of the characters these people play back to life for us.

  23. mark says:

    too bad Lauren ruined her face with surgery, she use to be so pretty.