Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life made a lot of people pretty happy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Of course, most people tuned in to the Netflix revival to discover what had become of Rory, Lorelai, and Emily, there were plenty of other treats to keep viewers engaged over the course of Year in the Life’s four ninety minute episodes. For those keen-eyed viewers, though, there were also plenty of cameos in A Year in the Life that made it even more interesting for fans.
Some of these cameos involved the return of characters to the series, albeit briefly, to resume a dynamic that was at work in the original show. In other cases, entirely new characters were introduced or actors who have some relationship with someone in production. The deceased TV shows Parenthood and Bunheads are both heavily represented. Here are the 15 Best Cameos From Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
15. Louise Goffin (Louise)
The town troubadour is a fixture of Stars Hallow, and his return in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was a welcome transition back into Stars Hallow. For a moment, though, it looks like he has a little competition in the form of Louise, played by Louise Goffin. When she shows up in “Winter,” she’s quickly chased away by the usual town troubadour, who reminds her that this is his turf. That’s when it’s revealed that Louise is the troubadour’s sister, but he seems of unfazed by that fact.
Of course, in real life Goffin is Carole King’s daughter, and it’s her voice we heard for seven seasons alongside King’s on “Where You Lead,” the show’s theme song. King, who makes an appearance of her own in the revival, is about as high profile as they come. Still, Goffin is a treat all her own, especially when she’s paired with everyone’s favorite town troubadour.
14. Alex Borstein (Miss Celine)
One of the oddest presences to ever grace Gilmore Girls was Miss Celine, a seemingly ageless stylist who had worked with everyone from Katherine Hepburn to Clark Gable. It was fitting, then, that Celine showed up in “Fall” to dress Lorelai for her wedding to Luke. Celine gets in some excellent lines during her brief appearance, and also manages to suggest that Luke would clean up nicely as well.
Alex Borstein was originally cast to play the role of Sookie (more on her later), but her schedule ended up conflicting and she had to drop the part. Still, she managed to squeeze her way into Gilmore Girls in a variety of ways, including the role of Drella, the harp player in the Independence Inn. Borstein was most known for her work as the iconic Miss Celine, however, and with good reason. Even on a show filled with wacky roles, Celine stands apart from the crowd.
13. Sebastian Bach (Gil)
Sebastian Bach, an actual musician, played Gil, a member of Hep Alien, for a good chunk of the original series. Although his return to the character is brief in the revival, we do get the crucial Hep Alien performance that fans were clamoring for. Each of them appears to have a daytime jobs, but this band is still rocking out as regularly as possible. Of course, this time we get the added benefit of a Paris Gellar reaction to the music. Needless to say, she’s not a fan.
Bach was originally a member of the Canadian group Skid Row, and actually had a fairly successful career as a musician before becoming a member of Hep Alien. Even though Gil’s appearance in the revival is a limited one, it was great to see that hair flowing in the wind. The dude’s still got it, and hopefully, he’s still peddling sandwiches. It’s what he was always destined to do.
12. Jason Ritter (Park Ranger)
A Parenthood co-star of Lauren Graham’s, Ritter shows up in “Fall” as the first park ranger Lorelai encounters when she’s attempting to reenact Wild (the book). Ritter shows up just long enough to announce to the crowd of women assembled there that the weather on the trail will be rough, so it might be wise to delay their hike for a day. Of course, the women gathered to reenact Wild decide that they can wait one day, and Lorelai is among them.
On Parenthood, Ritter played Mark Cyr, an English teacher who had an extended romantic entanglement with Graham’s character on that show. It’s only fitting for Ritter to make an appearance on Gilmore Girls, since it begins to meld the world of Parenthood with that of Gilmore Girls. If only Graham could have Luke and Mark. After all, they’re both good, solid men. Alas, it was never meant to be.
11. Peter Krause (Park Ranger)
Another Parenthood co-star, and Graham’s real-life boyfriend, Peter Krause plays the park ranger who keeps Lorelai from beginning her Wild journey after she’s already been delayed by a day. Krause is charming, but he’s designed as another impediment to Lorelai, who has forgotten her hiking permit, and is unable to hike without it. The pair have some excellent banter, and ultimately Lorelai decides to delay her travels by another day.
Krause is a fairly accomplished actor in his own right, given his time on both Parenthood and as the lead on Six Feet Under before that. Of course, the role of park ranger may be his finest work. While it’s true he’s not on screen very long, it’s his refusal to allow Lorelai into the park that eventually leads to her breakthrough moment, including a moving memory of her father and the decision to finally (FINALLY) marry Luke. Thank God for Peter Krause.
10. Christian Borle (Carl)
Stars Hollow: The Musical gets a fairly lengthy amount of screen time in “Summer,” and if they had hired lesser actors to play the central figures, that might have been a bad choice. Fortunately, they hired Christian Borle, a Broadway veteran, and wrote some fairly catchy music for him to perform. Although he may not get the extended feature that is granted to Sutton Foster, his partner in the musical, Borle still shines in his role.
A former member of the cast of Smash, Borle’s stage credits include Tony-winning roles in Peter and the Starcatcher and Something Rotten! Gilmore Girls knew it needed true talents for its small town musical, and Borle was an obvious choice for that exact reason. Borle lights up as the musical’s strangeness unfolds, especially in that opening scene where he seems to be playing an alcoholic. It just goes to show that no matter the role, Borle will be prepared to handle it completely.
9. Chris Eigemen (Jason Stiles)
Jason Stiles was one of Lorelai’s more minor romantic partners, but his appearance on the show was welcome nonetheless. A former business partner of Richard Gilmore, Eigeman makes his brief cameo as Stiles during Richard’s funeral in “Fall.” Stiles was undoubtedly a unique presence on the show through much of its fourth season as he and Lorelai dated on and off.
Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of competing with Luke, and I think we all had a sense of how that was likely to turn out. Still, Jason, or “Digger,” as Lorelai calls him, had plenty of charms of his own, including an exceedingly strange dog that was silent as the night. Stiles may not have been destined to win Lorelai’s heart (Luke and Lorelai forever!), but he was a fun sideshow, what with his nice apartment, money, and tantalizingly beautiful beard. That’s really what Gilmore Girls is all about… Right?
8. Ray Wise (Jack Smith)
Although his intentions are ultimately unclear, Ray Wise’s Jack Smith is definitely friendly toward Emily in the wake of Richard’s death. It’s clear that Emily has no intention of pursuing things further, but Smith’s motivations are a bit hazier. Still, in his few appearances, Smith definitely makes an impression, and manages to tell a rather hilarious story about Richard.
Smith shows up several additional times throughout the series, but he’s never an imposing presence. He drives Emily, Lorelai, and Rory to the cemetery, and makes a brief appearance with Emily at Nantucket. He seems to be a comforting presence for Emily, though he’s one she eventually jettisons as she begins to find her footing. Wise, who’s currently delightful on Fresh off the Boat plays the role admirably, and slides into the world of the Gilmores like a glove. It’s as if he was there the whole time, palling around with Richard.
7. Roy Choi (Himself)
Due to the conspicuous absence of the Dragonfly’s chef Sookie throughout most of the revival, Lorelai is stuck hiring celebrity chefs to run her kitchen, and things rarely work out well. When we see Choi in “Fall”, he’s going to town in Sookie’s kitchen, and explaining how well-organized Sookie left everything. Lorelai, ever the perfectionist, has trouble adjusting to other people occupying the space Sookie once dominated so completely.
Choi makes the unfortunate mistake of moving the coffee maker, which is enough fuel for the already unstable Lorelai to fire him. If there’s one thing he should have known about Lorelai, it was that her love of coffee was deep and immovable. Also, Choi was cool in some way that Lorelai just couldn’t get behind. He did use Twitter, after all. Even if Choi’s cameo was brief and a bit unnecessary, it was undoubtedly fun to see him stand where Sookie once stood, if only for a moment.
6. Carole King (Sophie Bloom)
Carole King appeared as Sophie, the owner of the music store, in the original series, but that doesn’t make her appearance in the revival any less wonderful. The singer/songwriter behind the show’s theme song shows up in “Summer” to help critique Stars Hollow: The Musical, and even gets a chance to play a tune of her own. Indeed, King steps behind the piano to introduce an original composition, and breaks out into “I Feel the Earth Move,” one of King’s most well-known songs. The rest of the Stars Hollow: The Musical review board seems unimpressed, and they quickly move on.
Elsewhere in “Summer,” Sophie is one of the citizens of Stars Hollow that is so entranced by the musical, and is part of the reason Lorelai seems so confused. They steal from Hamilton, sure, but the rest of the musical is actually kind of fun! Lorelai should just listen to Carole King. She probably knows a thing or two about musicals.
5. Gregg Henry (Mitchum Huntzberger)
If the original Gilmore Girls ever had a villain, it was Mitchum Huntzberger, who dashed Rory’s dreams of a journalism career, and led to a brutal separation between Rory and Lorelai for almost half a season. During his brief reappearance in the revival, he manages to be his usual insulting self, even as he offers to do Rory a favor and reach out to Conde Nast.
Of course, Huntzberger manages to throw some barbs in as well, and remind Rory that his son is engaged. Although it’s unclear whether Mitchum is aware of the intimate nature of the relationship between his son and Rory, he certainly speaks to her with the same menace in his voice that he had when she was Logan’s girlfriend. Some things may change, but Mitchum Huntzberger seems to stay exactly the same. Everyone still hates him, and we’ll never forgive his role in Rory stealing that boat and dropping out of Yale.
4. Rachael Ray (Herself)
Another one of the celebrity chefs who passes through the Dragonfly, Rachael Ray helps Lorelai gain a little perspective while making her a snack. Ray appears in “Spring,” and encourages Lorelai to mellow out about Michel, who she can tell is getting restless in his current role at the Inn. Ray makes some “sammies”, and seconds Roy Choi’s opinion that Sookie set up the kitchen remarkably well.
Of course, in spite of Ray’s heart to heart with Lorelai, the relationship was doomed from the beginning. Rachael Ray may make a mean “sammy”, but she’s no Sookie, and Sookie’s the only chef Lorelai can truly abide in the Dragonfly’s kitchen. Ray’s acting in the scene may not be outstanding, but then again she’s not an actor. She may have been superfluous, but having Rachael Ray in your kitchen is undoubtedly pretty cool, especially when she’s willing to make you a delicious snack.
3. Mae Whitman (Marcy)
For a brief second, Lauren Graham’s daughters shared the screen. Whitman, who played Graham’s daughter on Parenthood, made the briefest of appearance in “Spring” as Marcy, a woman waiting in one of the lines that Rory and Lorelai are floating through for Rory’s story. In fact, although she only appears briefly, Marcy is the one who allows Lorelai to get the shoes that everyone is so eagerly anticipating in yet another one of the Rory’s lines.
Whitman has made a smart career for herself. Of course, real fans of her work may trace it back to her vocal performance as Katara on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Other fans may track her work to the more recent Parenthood, where she’s undoubtedly excellent as Graham’s daughter. Whatever you may know her from, it was undeniably great to see her pop up her, even if it was only briefly. For the briefest of moments, Rory met Amber, and all was right with the world.
2. Sutton Foster (Violet)/ Other Bunheads Cast Members
After Amy Sherman-Palladino left Gilmore Girls, she moved on to Bunheads, an equally beloved series that admittedly had a more limited following. Sutton Foster was the star of that show, and she gets a lengthy appearance on A Year in the Life during Stars Hall0w: The Musical, where she plays the female lead. Perhaps the crux of Foster’s work as Violet comes later, though, when she sings a heartbreaking ballad that speaks to Lorelai’s uncertainty about her life, and ultimately leads to her decision to go do Wild.
Elsewhere in the revival, we get appearances from several other members of the Bunheads cast. Julia Goldani Telles shows up as Sandee of Sandee Says, the internet blog so desperate to get an interview with Rory. Bailey DeYoung plays the head of the thirty-something gang. Stacey Oristano, also of Bunheads fame, also shows up as a hiking companion of Lorelai’s eager to recreate Wild.
1. Melissa McCarthy (Sookie)
Of course, the biggest shadow hanging over A Year in the Life was the absence of Lorelai’s best friend Sookie. Melissa McCarthy has shone incredibly brightly in the years since Gilmore Girls wrapped, and that ultimately meant that she was incredibly busy, and unable to reprise her role as Sookie for an extended time. Still, McCarthy made time for A Year in the Life, and her appearance was certainly one of the highlights of the entire production.
During her single scene, she manages to showcase all of the cakes that she made for Lorelai and Luke’s wedding, and gets to interact Michel– the two often made a highly entertaining pair during the show’s original run. McCarthy slipped back into the role with remarkable ease, and it felt almost like nothing had changed in the years since the show ended. For that moment, we were back in Stars Hallow, and everything felt perfect. It was like Gilmore Girls had never left.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is streaming now on Netflix. Did we miss any of the best cameos? Let us know in the comments.