Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Art and commerce make for uneasy bedfellows on Younger

Hilary Duff, Sutton Foster (TV Land)
Hilary Duff, Sutton Foster (TV Land)
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While the full potential of Jade’s character may not have been realized on Younger, her arc sure concludes in a satisfying fashion. Her obsession with posting the minutia of her life on social media backfires, allowing Liza to craft the missing introductory chapter herself. Jade’s Achilles heel had been exposed the whole time, so the arc coheres in the end. Better yet, Jade’s undoing is sly commentary on the way in which the abuse of social media can come back to haunt people, without battering the audience over the head with this point. Any storyline that involves Liza and Kelsey earning a big win by working together is a winner, in fact. Kelsey herself comes up with the second part of this strategy to get rid of Jade—she convinces Brad Westlake to bid highly for the account, earning a significant gain for her imprint. Westlake is a one-note villain and his publishing company hasn’t been developed enough to pose as a remarkable—or particularly interesting—threat. Still, Liza and Kelsey continue to solidify their reputation as a dynamic, slightly scary duo. The fact that the ethical fuzziness of their decision is actually acknowledged is an added bonus. Charles praises their ingenuity while warning them that this type of deviousness is not the way that he wants to run his business. Surprisingly, this arc that’s seemingly about the duo’s teamwork becomes something more. Charles’ resolution of this conflict reveals some impressive leadership chops and helps establish this firm as a tighter-knit team than ever before.

Meanwhile, Diana is taking one for the team in her own special way. She’s in charge of courting a new client; David Wain guests as Hugh Shirley, the overly earnest author of “The Male Feminist.” This subplot is a showcase for Younger’s quick satire, Wain’s playful delivery, and some epic reaction shots thanks to Miriam Shor. Diana is engaged in a permanent eye-roll as Shirley recites his feminist philosophy, scenes that skewer allies—and social justice advocates in general—who get a little carried away in the process of changing the world. Diana’s job description includes the responsibility of having to suck up to some colorful clients, and this episode is a great example of the comedy that ensues. These scenes are even more interesting because of their underlying complexity. Diana has a right to be wary of this man who considers himself an expert on women’s issues. Meanwhile, Shirley may be overzealous but he also seems sincere. It’s not clear enough why Diana’s attitude changes on a dime—but changes it does—and the mood lightens, to say the least. Shirley ends up engaging in a kind of sexism by overcorrecting and shutting down Diana’s advances just because she’s a woman. She’s been drinking but she’s an adult woman who knows what she wants, and Diana’s used to getting what she wants. There are a couple of issues in this sequence where comedy and expedience get in the way of believability, but altogether, this is a fresh take on some of the many complexities involving modern gender relations. Most importantly, Diana’s latest awkward meeting in a series of awkward meetings is hilarious, per usual.

Space is made for additional members of the cast in this episode, but it isn’t doled out particularly effectively. The revelation that Liza is suffering from pain in her arm attributed to age isn’t revelatory in the least, and comes across as a blatant excuse to include Josh in the proceedings. A better use of time involves the adventures of Maggie and Lauren; the eccentric lovebirds are on a quest to sell Maggie’s latest inspired artpiece. Lauren’s fashion buddies purchase the sculpture, and instead of displaying it properly, they use it as an especially decorative clothing rack. The situation is silly, but the difference between Lauren’s horror and Maggie’s nonchalance is revealing. Lauren is an idealistic twenty-something who values art as Art while Maggie is a forty-something artist who just wants to be able to afford next month’s rent in New York City at this point. Between this subplot and the attempts to wrangle difficult literary clients, the tension between Art and Commerce appears to be an underlying theme in this episode—or it could have been if it had been more thoroughly developed. Regardless, “Un-Jaded” has its fair share of quality laughs, character moments, and narrative propulsion. Kelsey’s first account at her imprint has technically been deemed a success so there’s nowhere to go but up from here—right?

Stray observations:

  • Diana Accessory Watch: Those earrings
  • “I will be game-ier than ever.”
  • Anything that makes fun of modern art and/or reminds me of Beetlejuice speaks to me on a spiritual level, so I always appreciate Maggie’s sculptures. Finding or creating something like that must either be a blast or the biggest pain in the world; whoever is responsible out there, just know that I appreciate you.