On 'Parenthood,' Lauren Graham Comes Into Her Own

During her stint on Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham became synonymous with her character, Lorelai -- a cool, witty, single mom to a 16-year-old girl. Then the show ended, and last year, Graham took a role on NBC's Parenthood -- as a cool, witty, single mom to a 16-year-old girl.

TV critics pointed this out, of course. (It would be weird not to.) But Graham seemed surprised by the comparison. "The tone of the show is so different," she told a reporter. "[The two characters] don’t remind me of each other at all."

Graham is such a winning actress that most of us viewers have given her the benefit of the doubt. She is so deft at cracking wise, with such great comedic timing, that TV writers seemingly can't help but write lively repartee for her. So yes, her Parenthood character, Sarah Braverman, does talk a lot like Lorelai Gilmore.

But watching Sarah's Season 2 storyline unfold, you're reminded that this Lorelai-look-alike is a different person entirely. Sure, she is ready with a quip, but she's not the grounded grown-up that the Gilmore girl was. Lorelai had her insecurities, and she certainly had her issues with men. But her easy way with her daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel), was one of her great strengths. She didn't feel the need to gain Rory's favor, like Sarah clearly does with Amber (Mae Whitman).

A scene from the second episode of Parenthood's second season is like watching Lorelai go off a cliff. Graham's former character would no doubt have considered a romance with the boss, and maybe struggled with it, but she would have been aware of the consequences. Sarah is unsettlingly unaware, and even a little self-destructive. Based on the promo for Tuesday night's episode, she may be about to jeopardize her job and her relationship with her brother.

If anything, Graham's former role has made her more interesting to watch in this one. Knowing how Lorelai would handle these situations makes Graham's acting choices as Sarah seem even richer.

Does Lauren Graham's latest character still remind you of her old one?

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