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

Friends become colleagues on Younger

Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff (TV Land)
Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff (TV Land)
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The episode begins in a very silly fashion but the drama slowly reveals itself until all of a sudden, it becomes clear that this is an important episode in the series’ run. When it comes to comedy, the concern regarding dependence on jokes that could easily show a series’ age in a few years’ time don’t bother me—what’s funny is funny. At the same time, this episode counterbalances the last pair’s emphasis on drama with an avalanche of one-liners that risk crossing that line from currently relevant over to desperate. Technology and social media jokes at least make sense for Younger given the show’s premise, but they need to be grounded with other, more traditional material. Thankfully, the setting of a publishing house inspires some timeless literary jokes, for instance, but the ratio is sometimes off. That can be a problem because an audience knows when a show is trying too hard to appeal to younger viewers by reaching for that “fresh” and “edgy” material. Thankfully, new slang like “ghosting” is coupled with more timeless lines like “…the Double Negatives say they’re not not coming” and references to the Bechdel test. Better yet, comedic scenarios like the Hector & Dorff meeting work while the return to Lauren’s family’s house—a hotbed of humor—is incredibly welcome.

About midway through the episode, things take a turn for the serious. This is the type of show where a sex party can be happening in the background of a scene while an extremely important conversation regarding the nature of relationships is occurring in the foreground. All along, Maggie has needed a purpose and “kinkster” is as good of a purpose as any for the time being. But she’s a sage at the same time, encouraging Josh to consider the dynamics of his relationship with Liza more deeply. Again, Josh finds himself at a turning point in his relationship with Liza when he’s confronted with the idea of having to lie to everyone else in order to stay with one person. Is she too complicated, bringing too much drama to the table? Or is he too immature to handle an adult relationship at this point? Is compromising to this extent compromising his morals or just a side effect of being in an adult relationship?

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In the end, Josh decides that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make Liza happy. This is the same realization he’s come to several times already, but the most important development in this episode doesn’t have to do with him anyways. This episode is about the relationship between Liza and Kelsey, which has reached a new plateau at just the right time. Kelsey’s arc has continued to develop subtly throughout the series and this episode boasts some impressive payoff. She’s at the precipice of an important juncture in her career as the head of a new publishing wing at her firm and she’s afraid of blowing it. All along, Liza’s challenge has been starting over too late. Meanwhile, Kelsey is facing the rare fear of peaking too early. She feels unprepared for her new responsibilities, but thankfully her mentorship of her older subordinate reaps its benefits here. Hillary Duff struggles to sell the big comedic scene at the climax of this episode but the dramatic follow-up between she and Sutton Foster rings true. Liza saves her friend and new boss from a professional gaffe that could destroy both of their chances at this new opportunity before they’ve even started. The gimmick regarding the phone and the speech is fairly cliché, but the direction and acting involved sell it. It’s impressive that Younger was ready to reach this kind of emotional climax so early in the season, and the payoff speaks to the amount of work put into the storytelling and character development thus far. The end of the episode features tension between everyone involved in one of the show’s necessary love triangles, but at that point it doesn’t matter. While Charles admires Liza’s generosity and Josh decides to stay by her side, the real development here is a strengthened bond between two colleagues/friends.

Stray observations:

  • “Liza, I feel like such an imposter.” “So do I. Every single day.”
  • “But Josh doesn’t lie…it’s a beautiful thing about him I’d like to change.”
  • “Bear in mind, Jackie has a treadmill desk.”
  • “We have Schnapp’s.” “Do you have any water?” “This isn’t Bloomingdale’s.”
  • Are there really comment sections on press releases?
  • I thought that some of those domination jokes involving Maggie and Lauren were just for laughs but apparently there was some intense foreshadowing going on.

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