The Big Picture
- Luke having a daughter in Season 6 of Gilmore Girls was a surprising twist that could have given his character depth, but the way the storyline was handled ruined it.
- Luke hiding April’s existence from Lorelai for two months was absurd and unrealistic, causing unnecessary tension in their relationship.
- The potential for a meaningful father-daughter relationship between Luke and April was wasted, as the writers focused more on creating unnecessary drama rather than exploring their connection.
Gilmore Girls may be centered around Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), but it’s the residents of Stars Hollow that make the show so lovable and quirky. Among those residents is Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), the broody, baseball cap-wearing diner owner who gives the Gilmore girls their daily coffee fix. He may be grumpy 90% of the time, but he has a heart of gold, something that is proven time and time again throughout the series’ run — especially when it comes to Lorelai and/or Rory.
Around the halfway mark in Season 6, a bomb is dropped on both Luke and the audience: He has a daughter, April (Vanessa Marano). Now Luke has never really been the biggest fan of kids, Rory being the one exception, so it was certainly a twist and an interesting one at that. Unfortunately, the show did it all so wrong, and what could’ve been a good storyline quickly became one of the most hated in the show’s history.
Why Is the April Storyline So Bad on ‘Gilmore Girls’?
Luke having a kid was quite the turn of events for the show, especially since Season 6 was already a bit of a wild one. Rory and Lorelai aren’t speaking due to her dropping out of Yale, and she is living with her grandparents. Luke and Lorelai are happy and in love, and are finally engaged! So why not throw one extra log onto the fire? The thing is, April’s storyline isn’t even that bad of an idea — it actually puts Luke in a new situation and gives him a chance to grow. Introducing a child into his life was an opportunity to dive deeper into his character and not only focus on the grumpy guy persona he’s been carrying around for the past six seasons. But the writers fumbled the storyline so hard that it’s almost painful to re-watch.
As mentioned, Luke and Lorelai are engaged at this point, so when April comes into his life, you’d expect there to be a conversation about her… right? Instead, Luke hides the discovery from Lorelai for two whole months! It’s absolutely absurd — this is supposed to be the woman he’s planning to marry, and yet he hides such a huge new part of his life from her. It’s natural that he would be confused and unsure what to do given how sudden of a change this is — after all, it’s not every day a pre-teen walks into your diner and plucks a piece of hair off your head to see if you’re her dad. But it’s still a mystery why he decided to keep it from Lorelai. Even when she finds out, he pushes her away and doesn’t let her and April get to know each other because April’s mom doesn’t want them to. She’s his fiancé for crying out loud! Put your foot down, Luke!
Lorelai eventually gives him an ultimatum: marry her now to show he can commit, or she’s walking away. He can’t decide, and so she walks away, devastating Luke and Lorelai shippers everywhere. It’s unclear why the storyline went this route — it’s not like Lorelai is bad with kids or anything, as proven by how great of a mom she is to Rory. And it’s not like she could’ve been mad at Luke, given that he didn’t know about April, and April’s mom didn’t even know for sure that he was the father. It just makes no sense whatsoever.
The April Storyline Had So Much Wasted Potential
Many fans have omitted this storyline from memory, and it’s not unclear why. It could have been great had it been done right, and it’s a damn shame it wasn’t. First of all, we saw a similar storyline play out in Season 2 when Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) came to live with Luke. Luke was the one tasked with turning him around and setting him on a good path, and though it may not have happened under Luke’s roof, Jess did indeed go on to make something really great of himself. In a shocking turn of events, he ended up having his life together more than Rory did. That whole arc in Season 2 and 3 is one of the best in the show — not only was the tension between Rory and Jess peak drama, but Luke’s genuine attempts to steer Jess right was admirable and showed a softer side to him that we very rarely saw. The same could’ve been the case for April, and in a way it sort of was — he did take to fatherhood surprisingly well all things considered, but the mess of things that it caused made it fall a little flat.
As previously stated, Luke would do anything for Lorelai and Rory, and pretty much all of the moments we see him let his guard down and show off his softer side is in regard to the Gilmore girls. Like when he went to Rory’s Chilton graduation and didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was blubbering as she gave her valedictorian speech. Or when he blew up balloons and made her a coffee cake for her 16th birthday. Or how about when he built Lorelai a Chuppah when she was planning to marry Max (Scott Cohen)? There’s a long list of him being the father Rory never had, so you would think that would sort of translate over to April. Especially since, like Rory, April is super smart, and a bookworm. But it just never fully takes. Perhaps it’s because the entire storyline is soured by the way it destroyed Luke and Lorelai’s relationship, or maybe there simply wasn’t enough care put into the father-daughter relationship.
That’s not to say the entirety of that arc was a flop, because it wasn’t. Luke suddenly being thrown into the role of “girl-dad” and taking it in stride was quite comical and heartwarming. You know it’s not his ideal situation, but he still gives it the best shot he has, and it’s quite admirable. As April warms to him, and him to her, they do form a sweet little bond, but it doesn’t help to heal the wounds this storyline caused the show. And to make matters worse, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino (the show’s creators) departed after this season, leaving the show’s new writers to clean up the mess in the seventh and final season. Perhaps this storyline could’ve worked better had it been introduced earlier, and given a bit more time to be fleshed out — instead it felt like it was used for shock value and needless drama. The thought was there, but the execution was doomed from the start.