What would you give to be someone different? How would you cope if suddenly your life changed, and you found yourself with a new career, new friends and challenges you don’t even understand, let alone know how to solve? If you answer is “I really don’t know”, then Younger is probably for you.
This bright and breezy series, now in its third season (and slated for at least a fourth), follows the tribulations of Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a 40-something divorced mother who decides she wants to return to the workforce. Thing is that after 20 or so years out of it, no one wants to hire her. Then she has a flash of inspiration – and decides to pass herself off as a 26 year-old in order to get an entry-level job in publishing (where she had worked previously). Dressing, talking and thinking younger lands her a job at a high-end New York publishing house as assistant to the formidable and unforgiving Diana (Miriam Shor); although she manages to find a kindred spirit in junior editor Kelsey (Hilary Duff). With the house in the ‘burbs having been sold in the divorce settlement, she moves in with old college friend Maggie (Debi Mazar) in now-trendy Brooklyn. Maggie’s apartment happens to be new the studio of hot young tattoo artist Josh (Nico Tortorella), and soon sparks are flying between him and the freshly “youthful” Liza.
Younger is the brainchild of Darren Star, the man behind the wildly successful Beverly Hills 90210 and Sex and the City, among others. It’s safe to say the Younger apple hasn’t fallen too far from the Star tree, with the show playing on many of the tropes established in the earlier series. What distinguishes Younger from those other shows is its somewhat lighter tone and its willingness to explore some themes outside the simple mechanics of the characters’ love lives.
While season 1 spent a lot of time setting up the dynamics among the core group of characters; season 2 has been able to bring some complexity to the table, as well as branching out into some meatier issues. One arc concerns the state of the publishing industry and the influence of new media on it. Celebrity authors get a skewering, as do bloggers and tech whiz-kids.
Some things though never change in the Star universe. Although there has been some effort to broaden the palette, the fact remains that most of the characters on Younger are white, upper-middle-class New Yorkers with a taste for the latest gadgets, primo coffee and only the fanciest parties. That said, Star knows female characters, and he and his writing team have produced a collection of at least believable women to populate the show. The wit though is pretty much spot-on, with the average episode still providing plenty of laughs.
Broadway star Sutton Foster (Bunheads) leads the cast as the irrepressible Liza. That she manages to be credible as both a 26 year-old and a 40 year-old is remarkable in itself, but she really propels the show along with her impeccable comic timing. Debi Mazar (Entourage) and Miriam Shor (The Good Wife) lend able assistance as the “older” women in her life. Nico Tortorella provides the eye candy but also a bang-on performance as Josh, while Hilary Duff decisively throws off her child-star past as the ambitious Kelsey.
There’s a lot to like about Younger. While the show is certainly – and unapologetically – frivolous, a bit of frivolity is rather welcome these days. Even if it never really strays too far from the safety of the Darren Star formula, it’s still a show with a lot of heart and more than a little wit.
You can stream every episode (so far) of Younger on streaming service Stan.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television