Nico Tortorella, Sutton Foster (TV Land)

“Broke and Pantyless” is about what happens when two major, complicated facets of the human condition—money and sex—intersect, an inevitable occurrence considering the prominence that both play in people’s lives. Society requires both, but these subjects carry the kind of stigma that prevents them from coming up in casual cocktail conversation amongst strangers. Liza finds herself broke and pantyless when her daughter begs for tuition money, and since David isn’t good for it, this mother has to resort to desperate measures to provide for her child. Kelsey’s friend, Lauren, suggests that Liza should sell her panties online in order to make some fast cash, and the twentysomethings are so cool that this tactic doesn’t seem to phase them. The judgment is just lying dormant, however, since Kelsey throws this decision in Liza’s face; Kelsey gets defensive when confronted about her workplace-inappropriate relationship with Anton so she equates this indiscretion with Liza’s decision to sell her panties online. Kelsey makes the comparison to justify both actions, arguing that they both deserve the occasional stroll on the wild side, but it’s also a way to put Liza down. By doing so, Kelsey puts herself down as well; subconsciously, Kelsey knows that what she’s doing is wrong but at least she isn’t alone if Liza is in the wrong too.

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Kelsey enjoys focusing on others’ inadequacies because her decision to mix business with pleasure is getting less pleasurable by the minute. Her client is referring to her as his girlfriend, and their public displays of affection are getting more brazen, as the office isn’t even off-limits anymore. Both Liza and Kelsey are choosing the easy way out, using sex appeal to find work because it requires no effort and using the client pool as a dating pool for the very same reason. Liza may feel uncomfortable with using her body to make money, but it isn’t just about her; any negative consequences of combining money and sex have as much to do with public perception as they have to do with personal values.

Fortunately for Liza, Diana prioritizes the public perception of her company while still valuing the personal lives of her employees. Diana may not know about Liza’s panty-dropping tendencies, but she does find out about the after-hours waitress gig, and gives Liza an advance in order to protect the publishing company from being hurt if others can’t handle seeing an employee moonlighting as a waitress in a skimpy cocktail outfit. This move is very endearing even if it is more practical than anything else; Diana may care for Liza, or she may be interested in keeping clients and hard workers. Either way, offering the advance is a win-win, and Diana’s character continues to improve as a result. Still, it’s safe to say that Diana won’t be as understanding if she finds out that Kelsey has been canoodling with a client. Kelsey thinks that what she’s doing is on par with Liza’s behavior, but directly compromising her company’s relationship with a client is a bridge too far. The editor-client relationship has been compromised, jeopardizing the future of Anton’s book and Kelsey’s career. While she certainly wouldn’t forgive Kelsey’s lapse in judgment, Diana herself is tempted to mix business with pleasure, as her crush on Charles, a recently divorced business associate, is distracting her. People spend so much time at work that the human need for companionship inevitably gets in the way.

Due to life experience, Liza knows when she’s crossing a line, but Kelsey’s intuition isn’t developed enough to guide her away from temptation. Liza isn’t perfect either, though; as embarrassed as she is about the whole panty debacle, she can at least be forthcoming about it to Josh—but only to avoid disclosing the truth about her age. Others might be offended by the idea of using sex to make money, but Josh is understanding and laughs the revelation off. He respects Liza’s honesty, which makes the fact that she’s hiding an even bigger secret all the more tragic. Money and sex are complicated, but the difference between telling the truth and living a lie is not. As storylines, Liza’s decisions to sell her panties on the internet and Kelsey’s cliché dalliance with a client aren’t my favorites, but I appreciate that Younger can find the humor and meaning in both.

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Stray observations:

· Coining a phrase like “sniff and stiffed” is such a Sex And The City joke to make. As long as it isn’t a “fetch” situation that they’re trying to make happen, I don’t mind that type of humor. The cheesiness is endearing to me, though it certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

· I love that Josh is part of an alt-folk band, if that’s the proper term. I’m not as up to date with what’s going on with music right now as I’d like to be, but I’m assuming that this trend is on the way out by now. Still, this is the kind of joke that’s fairly relevant and way less forced than some of the other tech and “edgy” references to today’s youth culture.

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· Speaking of edgy, all of the panties jokes are fairly cringe-worthy, but Hilary Duff’s reaction when Anton shook Diana’s hand was priceless.