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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

One show families have rallied around: "Gilmore Girls." When the show's co-star, Lauren Graham, went on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" recently, Ellen asked her what a lot of viewers wanted to know.

(Soundbite of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show")

Ms. ELLEN DeGENERES (Host): So what's going on with "Gilmore Girls"? I hear things.

Ms. LAUREN GRAM (Actress): "Gilmore Girls" is not coming back next year.

CROWD: Aww...

BRAND: Aww. The show's creator left the series last year and it never really recovered. After seven seasons, tonight is the final episode. And as NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports, fans are hoping it won't end on a sour note.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: It's almost 8:00 o'clock on a Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Rallie Davies(ph) and her sister Carlisle(ph) are draped across the sofas in their family room with their private school classmate, Hannah Carmen(ph). All three of them have been "Gilmore Girls" fans for almost half their lives. This is why a 17-year-old Rallie is still devoted to the series.

Ms. RALLIE DAVIES ("Gilmore Girls" Fan): Because I've sort of grown up with the characters.

BATES: Hannah, also 17, says she has fond memories of watching with others.

Ms. HANNAH CARMEN ("Gilmore Girls" Fan): My mom and I watch it together and then my sister joined in, and it was like a family thing.

BATES: And 15-year-old Carlisle, the pragmatist of the group, uses TiVo to make sure she and her sister don't miss anything during their busy school year.

Ms. CARLA DAVIES ("Gilmore Girls" Fan): During the summer, we'd catch up with all the old episodes and all the stuff we miss out on.

BATES: "Gilmore Girls" is a drama on the CW Network. It's about a 30-something single mother and her teenage daughter who are each other's best friends. Even the theme song is mother/daughter. Carole King performs it with her daughter, Louise Goffin.

(Soundbite of song, "Where You Lead, I Will Follow")

Ms. CAROLE KING and Ms. LOUISE GOFFIN (Singers): (Singing) Where you lead I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to. If you need...

BATES: The Gilmore's are the must-see equivalent to Carrie Bradshaw and her "Sex and the City" posse were for those fans, says Michael Ausiello. He's an editor for TV Guide and he's been a "Gilmore Girls" observer since the pilot aired in 2000. Ausiello says there is one thing that sets this series apart from everything else on TV.

Mr. MICHAEL AUSIELLO (Editor, TV Guide): Oh, without a doubt the dialogue that was a way of speaking I had never heard on television before. It was such a unique show from day one.

BATES: This show's machine-gun repartee became a trademark. Here's Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as her daughter, Rory. Lorelai has come to the airport to pick Rory up.

(Soundbite of "Gilmore Girls")

Ms. ALEXIS BLEDEL (Actress): (As Rory Gilmore) I'm so glad you're here.

Ms. LAUREN GRAHAM (Actress): (As Lorelai Gilmore) No, I'm glad to see you.

Ms. BLEDEL: (As Rory Gilmore) I'm never leaving home again.

Ms. GRAHAM: (As Lorelai Gilmore) Oh, that's my emotionally stunted girl. Hey, I got you gifts.

Ms. BLEDEL: (As Rory Gilmore) What? I'm the one that left town. I'm supposed to get you gifts.

Ms. GRAHAM: (As Lorelai Gilmore) Oh, if I got here early and there was nothing to do except feed gummy bears to the bomb sniffing dogs, which apparently the United States government frowns upon.

Ms. BLEDEL: (As Rory Gilmore) You got in trouble with the government while you're waiting for me?

Ms. GRAHAM: (As Lorelai Gilmore) Just a little.

Ms. BLEDEL: (As Rory Gilmore) How much is a little?

Ms. GRAHAM: Learn Russian. Okay, here you go.

BATES: That kind of back and forth, threaded with the sides on everything from pop culture to current events, is a lot harder than Graham and Bledel make it look. And, Hannah Carmen(ph) says, not everybody appreciates it.

Ms. CARMEN: It drives my dad crazy because he don't understand them when they're talking. But meanwhile, he's like, when we talk, we talk (unintelligible) but like really, really fast, and then - so when I listen to it I can follow pretty easily.

BATES: Although Rallie Davis has a point.

Ms. DAVIS: It sort of still seems like really contrived.

BATES: A little contrived maybe, but fans look forward to it every week. They also looked forward to watching Lorelai Gilmore's relationship with Luke Danes progress. Luke owns the town diner. He started out as Lorelai's verbal sparring partner and evolved into her lover. Longtime viewers had their hearts set on a wedding this season.

But last spring, the show's creator, Amy Sherman Palladino, had a contract dispute with Warner Brothers and she left the show. The last episode she wrote featured a Luke and Lorelai breakup, a shocking development for fans. A lot of them blamed Sherman Palladino for derailing the hit series.

Ms. MAUREEN RYAN (Chicago Tribune): We've invested six seasons in this show, many hours of our lives. And we were sort of onboard with the story that they were telling. And then she left and sort of set the place on fire as she walk out the door. And I didn't really appreciate that.

BATES: Maureen Ryan is the TV writer for the Chicago Tribune, and a "Gilmore Girls" fan. She says she's not alone in seeing Sherman Palladino's angry exit as a hostile gesture to the audience that had made the show a hit. Ryan says in the last season the show also broke faith with the original premise that made it so attractive to its largely female audience.

Ms. RYAN: This show that was about, to a certain degree, two women making their way in the world with the love and support of each other was turned into this sort of soap opera about two women who were just desperate to hang onto their rich and sometimes callous boyfriends.

BATES: Tonight, some of that might be corrected as the last show airs. TV Guide's Michael Ausiello won't tell much, but he believes the show's end will mirror its beginning.

Mr. AUSIELLO: It sounds like it's going to be really emotional. And I like the idea of having the bookends in the pilot, you know, maintaining that consistency.

BATES: It's bringing it full circle.

Mr. AUSIELLO: Yeah, I think so, and very appropriate for the show.

BATES: After that, well, there's always box sets and reruns.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "Where you Lead, I Will Follow")

Ms. KING and Ms. GOFFIN: (Singing) Loving you the way I do, I only want to be with you, and I would go to the ends of the earth 'cause darling, to me that's what you're worth. Where you lead I will follow...

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