This is my account of the Gilmore Girls reunion in Austin, TX in June of 2015. If you’d like to hear my account of the inaugural Gilmore Girls Fan Fest in Washington Depot, CT, click here.
Stars Hollow Meets ATX
Now, Austin has a different festival almost every week, and I’d never heard of this one, so I began my research. It listed Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, and Alexis Bledel as panelists, but it appeared as if it was still a bit of a gamble that one would actually get into a particular panel. And tickets were steep: $175 for a badge pass. That’s a lot of money for me, for an iffy chance to see them. So, I waited. Once the plan changed, that it was to be the closing event, and high likelihood that badge holders could attend, tickets were at their steepest– $250, I think. Again, a lot of money to spend on myself. (Decisions like these were easier when I was single.) Thought I’d try to score a single ticket to the panel. That was a complete bust. By then, the weekend badges were sold out. I was admitting defeat and ready to just stalk the downtown for cast sightings. But my husband, bless him, wouldn’t hear of it. “You’ve loved Gilmore girls longer than you’ve loved me, and you’d hate it if you weren’t there. Make it happen,” he said. I realized, My God, he’s right! So, a scary Craigslist transaction later and I was in!
Gilmore karma was also with me, as I happened to score a Fast Pass to the reunion panel. I was in for sure, and flying in the clouds. Almost. A part of me was torn about this reunion. You see, I had never before called myself a fan of the show. GG is not a TV show to me– it’s more like an extension of my life. I am a private person, a thinker, and allow very few into the deepest recesses of my person. As a result, although I have many casual friends, it is difficult for me to find true kindred spirits. The characters of GG are my people. When I have a bad day, I can watch them and feel as if I’d had a comforting chat with my best friend. I was fully aware that this reunion, incredible as it may be, would throw into sharp relief the fact that I am only that: a fan. The cast of GG does not know me, and will only view me as one of the masses, if they acknowledge me at all. I was afraid that it would take something special away from my relationship with the show that would be unreclaimable. More on that later.
The festival begins for me at about 7:45am, in a long line on the east side (think TX sun) of the Alamo Ritz for the Bunheads panel. I chat it up with a fan from DC. Great connection, as we became line buddies for the rest of the festival. Somehow, we score front row seats. Not great for movie watching, but perfect when your idols (I’m talking about you, AS-P and Kelly Bishop) are within spitting distance. I think I embarrassed Kelly with my blatant adoring eye contact. Have to plug in that Emily Gilmore is the most complex character on the show, and no one could play her like this classy and talented lady. Just the start of the festival, but I’m already swooning.
And jealous. I joined Twitter solely for this festival, in order to stay in the know and hopefully cross paths with the cast. I was following a couple of fellow fans, and their photos with cast members were already pouring in. I soon found out why. They called themselves the 6am crowd, and spent hours and hours camped out by the elevators of the hotel. I didn’t want that experience. No judgments– had my story been different, I may have been there, too. But I was not on vacation, staying downtown. I was getting up with my baby at night, driving back and forth, etc. I’m not a pushy person… maybe not pushy enough… and I wanted to experience the festival in its entirety, not just waiting in the lobby and nabbing every celebrity who walked by to snap a quick photo. If I did meet cast members, I wanted it to happen organically. I also soon put away the DVD insert I had brought for autographs, as well as my camera (with a couple of exceptions). Watching other fans frenetically vie for photos made me realize that I would rather collect memories than documentation. So, I stopped Twitter-following the 6am crowd, so as to not lose my fresh perspective. 🙂 Gilmore karma came back to bless me later.
Rory-like, I had even prepped 1-2 questions for each GG panelist, so that I would have something intelligent to say if opportunity arose. However, when I met Amy Sherman-Palladino, I admit that the questions left my head, and I blathered on about how amazing she is and that I was wearing a hat in her honor. She called me adorable. Mic drop. Day made.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying other panels and a great sneak peek screening of Wayward Pines. By the time the FNL tailgate happened, I was wiped out and sunburned. I left for home about 90 min before the Hep Alien concert. Wait–what?!?
HOW DID I MISS THE HEP ALIEN CONCERT?!?
Well, it goes like this. I was on the fence about the tailgate party, but decided to check it out. Stayed for about an hour. Nothing was happening, it was HOT, no celebrity sightings yet, or even any music playing. So, I bailed in time to put my baby to bed. 40 min drive later in Austin’s horrible traffic, as I was pulling into my driveway, I got the Twitter notification from John Cabrera that Hep Alien would jam in an hour. I’m pretty sure I yelled and cursed at my phone. So, sure– technically I could have turned around and gone back. But, my family was excited to see me, and I didn’t relish the thought of another 1-2 hours on the road. Chalk this one up to parent guilt and sleep deprivation. I’d do it differently if I had a redo, but as it is, I watched it on YouTube and let it go. Que sera, sera. I knew the next day would be full of glorious things.
Another very early start to the day, and in line with my line buddy for Coffee with Amy.
Of course, by this time, I’m already on my second cup. The Gilmore gods really are blessing me for my years of devotion, for we actually get into that tiny panel. Even so, the room is packed, and I am sitting on a trash can in the back, ha! With my Fast Pass in hand for tonight’s reunion, I feel so lucky that I’m getting to see all of the panels I had hoped to.
I’ve seen a bunch of recognizable people by now… Jackson Douglas, Liz Torres, Danny Strong… snapped a pic with Scott Patterson while talking baseball, and chatted with Sutton Foster for a few minutes. I even bumped into Miles Heizer at a coffee shop, acting as a delivery guy with takeout in hand. He is the sweetest kid ever, so polite and kind. Austin is somewhat like this anyway– we are a very chill city where celebrities feel free to mingle like normal people– but it was so cool to experience that in such a high concentration, when so many of the celebs I love are here at the same time.
And finally, it’s time for the pis de resistance, the Gilmore girls reunion panel! It’s online in its entirety, so I won’t recap it now. To be there, in the gorgeous Paramount Theater, was nothing short of absolute bliss. There were my friends, right there on stage. They bantered and laughed and cried, and we were all swept up again into the sugar-coated world of Stars Hollow.
One thing that stands out to me about this reunion experience is watching the cast members as fans. It’s plain to see that most of them really love this show, too! It wasn’t “just a job.” I feel validated in my stance that it has never been “just a TV show.” Their enthusiasm is palpable, and I am convinced that they truly love this show and their fans.
I have one regret about the reunion panel. I did not go up to the mics for the audience Q&A. Not that I had a burning question to ask. But, there was hardly anyone up there! To really get into the spirit of the event, I was dressed in costume as Lorelai in her “laundry day” outfit in the episode “The Lorelais’ First Day at Chilton.” It’s also featured in the opening credits of the show, and instantly recognizable to any fan. I looked damn good in it, too, if I do say so myself. But the cast hadn’t seen it! And if I had been quick-witted enough to go ask a question, they would have. By the time I thought of that, there were too many people in line. Again, I’m just not pushy enough. It was fun, though, and lots of fans commented on it throughout the day. Little do I know that the highlight of my day is yet to come. I hang in the lobby for a while, reliving the event with new-found friends. It’s getting late, and I’m thinking about heading out. I wander upstairs to find a place to charge my phone, just in case I need to place a 911 call during the Uber ride to my car. As I’m sitting there, who walks by on her way to the outdoor balcony but Kelly Bishop! SHE recognizes my Lorelai outfit and invites me to join her. She’s relaxing with a smoke, and let’s me buy her a beer. So, we sit in the comfortable night air, drink beer, and chat for the next hour or so. Surreal! We talk a bit about the show, but mostly just about lots of other things: jobs, travel, books, Ed Herrmann… I could write a long post on our conversation alone. She is a completely lovely person; intelligent, witty, kind, diverse. It’s a perfectly relaxed and fun conversation. It’s past midnight by this time, and she has an early flight. As we are wrapping things up, I break my rule and ask for a picture with her. She replies, “Of course, we must! We’re friends now!” I think I’m in love.
The other person I really wanted to meet and didn’t is Matt Czuchry. Why? Well, simply put, he’s on the list! The list that according to my husband, every married couple should have. 🙂 Ironically, when I leave the hotel that night, I bump into my line buddy, who says that Matt just came through and she got a picture with him…. while I was merely steps away on the balcony with Kelly Bishop. Well, I can’t be upset about that. It’s not like I would trade that time for anything. Another time, maybe…
The festival is wrapping up, but I’m continuing the GG love with tickets to the Gilmore Guys shows at the Highball. I wanted to be a fan of this podcast… but it just doesn’t work for me. However, I knew that for this event, they would pull out all the stops, and hopefully have some kickass guests. Plus, the Highball is such a cool, intimate venue. Fun shows! Keiko Agena is a guest for both shows and both Jackson Douglas and John Cabrera are in attendance. I even get a shout out from the stage from Sarah Ramos, because she noticed my (10+ year old) Luke’s shirt. Nice, relaxed way to wind down the GG reunion experience.
There was a lot of talk throughout the weekend about a possible comeback, movie, etc., which Amy debunked. (I have some interesting thoughts about Scott Patterson’s role in that, but will save that for later.) I’ve never thought that it will happen, and I’m not sure that I would want it to. I’d never be against it, of course, but personally, I think I’m satisfied with the show for what it is. As any reader knows, there’s something to be said for ambiguity. Not every story needs a tidy resolution– that’s not life, and art mimics life. As for Amy’s final four words, my idea is that they are in the spirit of Dumbledore’s conversation with Snape: “After all this time?” “Always.”
So, did the reunion change GG for me? Yes, it did. Initially, I am a bit jaded. I am just a fan, and they really don’t know me. In the long run, however, I think the reunion will serve to deepen my love and appreciation for the show. I can now watch it with more of an insider’s point of view. I’ve heard Amy talk about its inception; I’ve seen the enduring love many of the cast have for it; and I’ve heard some of their own stories, during the panel, through social media, and in person! I don’t think a reunion like this will happen again, and I’m honored to have been there.
Plus, I have a new life goal: to always fit into my Lorelai shorts.
(This post is embarrassingly long. If you have read to the end, please call me, because we should be friends!)