How Lauren Graham’s ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Character is Like Lorelai Gilmore: ‘I Just Wanted Her to Have a Heart’

When an actor is best-known for a beloved role, it can be hard for audiences to see them on another show. Fortunately for Lauren Graham, there are some similarities between her famous Gilmore Girls character and her current one in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Here’s how the two are alike.

Lauren Graham played Lorelai Gilmore in ‘Gilmore Girls’

Graham is best known for portraying Lorelai Gilmore in the hit WB/CW series Gilmore Girls. The series depicts the relationship between Lorelai and her daughter, Rory, who she had as a teenager and raised without the help of her wealthy parents. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, she has become the executive manager of an inn.

Lorelai then goes on to start her own inn, and though she has a partner, she often finds herself doing a lot of the work. Everything she does is in support of her daughter, Rory, who is, at times, ungrateful. Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons on the network and was later revitalized with a revival miniseries titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

She now stars in ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ as Joan

Lauren Graham as Joan in 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist'
Lauren Graham as Joan in ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ | Katie Yu/NBC

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Following Gilmore Girls, Graham went on to star in the NBC drama Parenthood for six seasons. In 2020, she returned to the network on a new series: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The show, which has been renewed for a second season, depicts a young woman who gains the ability to hear others’ thoughts and feelings through song and dance.

Graham’s Joan is Zoey’s boss at the tech company SPRQPoint. At first revered by all, she and Zoey become closer after she promotes her. Joan is a bit awkward around her employees at times, but her no-nonsense attitude is peeled back at times to reveal an honest, caring person who wants the best for those around her.

Graham said her character struggled to get where she is

In NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: A Conversation with the Stars and Creators for the Paley Center, Graham explains what she wanted to convey with Joan. “We’ve seen these tough, boss lady characters, and I really wanted to make something more specific.” She adds, “I just really wanted her to have a heart.”

Graham continued, “Here’s a person who’s under an extreme amount of pressure… who’s probably been the only woman in the office for most of her career. She’s had to be tough, and she maybe hasn’t had a lot of allies. It’s still very much a man’s world. So maybe she kind of sequestered herself to survive.” This sounds a little like Lorelai.

Like Lorelai, Joan has a young counterpart that she’s tough on

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Graham explains more about how Joan acts toward Zoey. “Here’s this young woman who she kind of sees herself in. But she wants her to succeed, [and] she’s frustrated when she doesn’t get it quickly enough.” she adds that Zoey is “sort of a prodigy” for Joan, but she “can’t be soft on her.”

Once again, this bears a resemblance to Lorelai’s attitude toward Rory. She wants her daughter to work hard and do well based on her own merits, even though Lorelai (and others in Rory’s life) can give her more support than she had. So while it’s definitely not the same role, fans of Gilmore Girls may enjoy watching Graham in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.