Is This Really Goodbye, 'Girls'?

Lorelai, Rory, don't leave us this way: Lauren Graham, left, and Alexis Bledel wrap up
Lorelai, Rory, don't leave us this way: Lauren Graham, left, and Alexis Bledel wrap up "Gilmore Girls" tonight. (By Greg Gayne -- The Cw)
By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

For seven years there are those who have been a bit obsessed with Lorelai and Rory, the "Gilmore Girls." It started with that freakishly near-perfect mother-daughter thing they have going. Helped along by the rapid-fire dialogue "Gilmore" is known for, they are two halves of the same whole, finishing each other's sentences, each seemingly telegraphing the other's thoughts.

The other object of fascination is Luke, diner guy, the one who always had the thing for Lorelai (and she for him). The one who was a better father-figure to Rory than her real dad ever was. The one who indulged their addictions to caffeine and fries.

Will Luke and Lorelai ever get married? That is the tantalizing, and ever-lingering, question, one that is evergreen in romantic comedies and dramas (think Carrie and Mr. Big on "Sex and the City" or Rachel and Ross on "Friends").

But what if there is no answer?

Forget closure, people. It appears the fans are the ones getting left at the altar.

(Spoiler alert, for those "Gilmore" fans who for some reason haven't been hanging on every utterance from Lauren Graham, who plays Lorelai. She disclosed that although the couple are headed in a positive "direction" -- as she put it to TV Guide -- there ain't no wedding.)

Tonight, "Gilmore Girls" comes to an end after seven seasons -- six on the now-extinct WB, the current one on the CW -- and, according to more than one cast member, the conclusion is less than satisfying. (The network did not provide an advance copy of the episode.) One of those shows that had only decent ratings but a tremendously loyal following, "Gilmore" wraps up in a way that series regular Kelly Bishop describes as "disrespectful" to fans.

"There's so much written into that script, it almost seemed as if -- certainly with my character, certainly with Lorelai and Luke -- that we were ready to move on to the next story line," says Bishop, who plays Emily Gilmore, Lorelai's often prickly mother. "That we were ready to begin the next season in the very next moment . . . I see a series of dots after the last scene of the show, rather than a period, or better yet, an exclamation point."

There was a sense this was coming. After contract negotiations with its two stars (Graham and Alexis Bledel, who plays Rory) dragged on, "Gilmore" wrapped its season finale before it was certain that it would also be the series finale. For a brief blip, hope surged that the show would return for an abbreviated 13-episode season in the fall. But the network pulled the plug a few weeks ago.

"I felt like the bottom dropped out," Bishop says. "I thought [the 13-episode season] was excellent because we could really wrap up the stories nice and neat and kind of give the audience a chance to say goodbye."

Truth is, the show has been ready to go for a while now. Last year, series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino left, and David Rosenthal took over as the show's supervisor. The writing, says Edward Herrmann (who plays Richard Gilmore, Lorelai's father), then "tended to lose a little of its sharp edges." And there were plot twists that irked the faithful. Lorelai married Rory's biological father in a spur-of-the-moment wedding in France, a detour that has since been disposed of. Logan, Rory's debatable boyfriend, proposed in the middle of a formal graduation party at her grandparents' house -- a move that any Gilmore fan would consider cringeworthy.

So it comes to this: In the penultimate episode, which aired last week, Rory said no to Logan's proposal. Which is probably a good thing, given that she's only 22 and she's incredibly brilliant and she doesn't need to be limiting her future career to a 60-mile radius of where he's already chosen to live. Still, did he really mean it when he said it was all or nothing? Marry me or you're dumped? Whoa. Some whiplash there. There must be some fallout coming on this one . . . oops. Nope. No time left for that.

Luke and Lorelai, meanwhile, are in another one of those moments where they are misreading signals and not talking to each other about how they feel and generally stalling on their way to a magnificent future together. We think.

"There are suggestions that it would be resolved that way," Herrmann says, "but we'll never know, because we didn't know it was going to be over. You don't have the emotionally satisfying moments. After seven years, each of those storylines needs its own episode, almost."

What will happen will be a town-wide graduation party for Rory, one last hurrah for the fictional hamlet of Stars Hollow, with all its quirky and endearing regulars -- Sookie and Jackson, Lane and Zack, Kirk and Taylor, Miss Patty and Babette. With such a crowded final setting, Bishop says, it was hard to have many intimate moments.

"It's unfortunate that, I think, a lot of those fans are going to think there isn't closure," says Liza Weil, who plays Rory's best friend, Paris, and who points out that the writers were hamstrung by the situation. "Hopefully, there won't be toilet paper in the trees of all the writers."

Then again, Weil got her conclusion. She's off to Harvard Medical School, and she had a final goodbye hug with Rory in last week's episode. She's not in tonight's finale, and only vaguely knows how it wraps up.

No one from the production end of the show was willing to talk, but this much we were told: The pilot for "Gilmore" started with Lorelai in the diner, holding out her coffee mug, begging Luke for her sixth cup of caffeine for the morning. Shortly after, she was joined by Rory. And, in the final scene tonight, it will once again be Luke, Lorelai and Rory hanging out in the diner. And they'll be headed in a good "direction," to once again quote Graham.

Only where that direction leads them, there's no way to know.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company