As one fan put it to me recently, “I thought you would like to hear of the extremes that people love this show.” She then went on to describe a tattoo she was getting in honor of Gilmore Girls. And I thought I was a fanatic. But I believe it. Fans get involved in the lives of the Gilmore Girls characters. When the characters hurt, we hurt. When they are happy, we are happy. And right now Lorelai and Luke are on the outs, but they both love each other. And deep down, they both know it.
When she suddenly broke off their engagement, and then went and married her daughter’s father… Of course, we also understand what pushed her to this. Luke did. He was pushing her away, making her second place, being insensitive to her needs. I miss the old Luke, who was always there for Lorelai, no matter what. He’s always loved her, even before they were dating. And whatever problems they face, we know they’ll never be truly happy unless they find happiness together.
This might be the last season of Gilmore Girls. And what do fans like this do when their favorite show is about to be canceled? Answer: Everything they possibly can to keep it going. They don’t want GG to end at the current, seventh season. So there’s the “Great8Mandate” write-in campaign. And there are numerous online polls, which GG fans vote on in droves. There are petitions. And then there are blogs and forums, and almost every TV blog or forum out there has at least one comment on it begging for a Gilmore Girls season 8.
As I write this, there are only 4 episodes left for Luke and Lorelai to reconcile. And fans are getting very nervous. They want Luke and Lorelai to reunite. But how can they possibly do so in only a month? After all the bridges they’ve both burned? How do you get by all the anger and hurt, and find love and contentment, that fast? It just doesn’t happen. I tried to soothe their fears, reassuring them that Luke and Lorelai can indeed get back together, even get married, this season. I even described exactly what kind of thing would have to happen to make it work, and why. The only question is whether the writers go ahead and do it.
But fans are not writers. Our hero has gotten himself into a fix. And the fans think that he can’t get out, because they can’t see a way out. Of course, that’s what makes for great drama. Because when he does get out of the fix, free to save the world, we’re overjoyed. Fans don’t understand storytelling. And that’s why I pray the writers of Gilmore Girls ignore fans when it comes to the story. I pray they don’t let the fans tell them how to write a good story.
Because the fans keep saying we need to give Luke and Lorelai time to get back together. Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal, reflects the opinion of many Gilmore Girls fans:
I am on “The Great8Mandate” bandwagon… We deserve a proper farewell. Or as TV Gal reader Rebecca put it an “unrushed conclusion.”
An “unrushed conclusion”? Okay, here’s the problem. An “unrushed” conclusion is a boring one. Like dialogue, pacing is not about what’s realistic. It’s about what’s plausible. And when fans say “unrushed,” they mean they don’t understand how Luke and Lorelai can possibly get by the China wall that currently separates them. In other words, if the fans can’t see how the conflict will be resolved. But if they could see how the conflict will be resolved then the suspense goes right out of the story. I can’t think of one top story that has an unrushed conclusion. They always have dramatic, mind-bending, tear-jerking conclusions that leave you saying, “Wow!” Unrushed conclusions suck.
Rushing the ending can make it all the more powerful. If it seems like Luke and Lorelai just can’t reconcile, doesn’t that make it all the more powerful when they do? And this is true no matter how unrealistic it is. It doesn’t matter whether the ending is believable, only whether it’s plausible. And whether or not it’s plausible depends more on the characters themselves than on real life. Once you have strongly sympathetic characters, as Gilmore Girls does, you can do almost anything you want in the story. And if the characters go along for the ride, the audience will, too.
When Steven Spielberg directed Jaws, the story goes, when he got to the end of the movie, where the shark dies– Peter Benchley had written the original novel and the screenplay. And Spielberg’s ending was different than the original ending. Benchley disagreed with Spielberg’s ending, because he said it was unbelievable. He said no one would believe that an air tank would explode like that or that it would explode a shark like that. Because none of that could possibly happen in real life. And as the Mythbusters proved, Benchley was right. The ending to Jaws could never happen in real life.
But Steven Spielberg said, he’s had the audience on the edge of their seats for 2 hours, and he’s going to give them a satisfying ending. He said the story was going to go out with a bang. And you know what? Spielberg was right. In theaters, when the ending came, audiences cheered. They not only believed the impossible; they exulted in it!
It has nothing to do with what would happen in real life. It has to do with the drama. It has to do with identifying with a hero who, being in an impossible situation, somehow overcomes, triumphant. It’s the plausible impossible. And that’s what I want to see of Luke and Lorelai.
What do you think? Is it better for a story to have a rushed ending? Are there case in which a story should have an unrushed ending?