Lauren Graham Feared ‘Gilmore Girls’ Would Be Canceled in Its First Season

Lauren Graham is best remembered for her role on Gilmore Girls. For seven seasons, Graham played the loveable Lorelai Gilmore. Since the show was added to Netflix’s rotation, it has enjoyed a renewed life with an entirely new fan base. The role, however, didn’t come easily for Graham, and once she landed it, she was pretty confident the series wouldn’t ever make it to a second season.

Lauren Graham shot the pilot for Gilmore Girls while still employed by a different network

Graham’s road to portraying Lorelai was rife with roadblocks. The famed TV mom received the script for the series more than once, but only read it the second time. Graham was already tied into working on another show. She figured she shouldn’t get attached to another project. That series, M.Y.O.B, didn’t make it to a second season, but Graham still wasn’t sure she’d be able to take the role of Lorelai.

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Reportedly, Graham shot the series’ pilot without knowing if she’d get to portray Lorelai longterm. If her previous network wanted to continue M.Y.O.B, the WB would have been forced to find another Lorelai. Instead, the WB and NBC, the network that carried M.Y.O.B, reportedly traded Graham for another actor who was also tied up in a contract, according to Graham’s book, Talking as Fast as I Can. She never revealed who that other actor was.  

Gilmore Girls was up against stiff competition during its first season

Graham and her castmates were never worried about the content of the series. Everyone who was cast in the show seemed to believe in the story, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t concerned about its ability to make it past its first season. The show, which premiered on the WB in 2000, was given an initial Thursday at 8 pm time slot. The time slot was considered particularly difficult because, at the time, NBC had a monopoly on Thursdays. The network decimated its competition with it’s Must-See TV lineup.

Lauren Graham arrives at a 'Gilmore Girls; A Year in The Life' event
Lauren Graham | Amanda Edwards/WireImage

While NBC garnered the majority of viewers on Thursdays from the 1980s onward, it dominated the early 2000s particularly well. Gilmore Girls premiered at the same time that long-running favorite, Friends, aired. Friends aired at 8 pm on Thursdays from 1995 until its finale in 2003. Graham recounted in her book that she was informed the show would go up against Friends during a sneak peek media event. She stated that she assumed the show was “already canceled” after learning what shows it would be competing against.

Gilmore Girls thrived after its timeslot was shifted

After a respectable showing during its first season, Gilmore Girls was moved into the time slot that would be its home for the rest of the series. It replaced Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Tuesdays at 8 pm and helped propel several new shows to success. Gilmore Girls, in many ways, served as a lead-in for new shows developed by the network. In its second season, it served as the lead-in to Smallville and later went on to become the lead-in for One Tree Hill, two notable successes for the network.

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The show ended after its seventh season, but that’s not how the cast and crew envisioned the show wrapping up. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the famed showrunner, walked away from the project at the end of season six when contract negotiations stalled. With her, she took the rest of Lorelai and Rory’s story. Fans have heavily debated the merits of the final season.