Debi Mazar, Nico Tortorella, Sutton Foster (TV Land)

While the last few episodes have boasted some surprising reveals, it’s time to get down to business. The characters have been keeping secrets from one another all season; the tension is about to be released, but not without fallout. Kelsey confesses to Thad that she’s been cheating on him with Anton; meanwhile, Thad has apparently been cheating on Kelsey in turn. While this is an added twist to this subplot, it isn’t especially surprising or moving since Chad is such a two-dimensional jerk. Still, the couple’s mutual decision to stay together—two affairs must cancel one another out—is a really funny, cynical way to follow up these revelations. The biggest shoe finally drops when Liza admits her real age and backstory to Josh in the midst of a molly-induced haze, which results in a cliffhanger leading into the season finale. Most importantly, Maggie leaves the apartment again, breaking hearts in her wake. In a development that makes so much sense that I should have seen it coming, Lauren seizes the opportunity as belle of the ball to express her crush to Maggie—as temporary and drug-motivated as it may be—in a characteristically classy display of affection. There hadn’t been much obvious build-up to this particular moment, but Maggie deserves this bit of action considering that she’s been wasting away up in her apartment for the bulk of the season like Quasimodo.

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Drugs tend to serve as truth serums on television, but only one show has dared to host a Hot Mitzvah, which is the best kind of fictional soiree—character-appropriate and completely out of control in the best way. The setting of this episode is no cheesy charity event straight out of Gossip Girl; this is the combined Super Sweet 16/bat mitzvah bash that every twenty-year-old Jewish pansexual goddess deserves. It’s still a blast to see this cast interact since their storylines were isolated from one another for so long earlier in the season; a chance to observe one of the season’s MVPs in her element getting on with her ridiculous self is just icing on the birthday cake.

While she may function as comic relief more than anything else, Lauren has gotten more and more shading as a character as the season has progressed. Unfortunately, Diana remains in a state of stasis, which is a problem when she’s repeatedly serving the story in the same way—providing an obstacle for Liza. Younger’s plucky protagonist has picked herself up and dusted herself off after experiencing her most recent professional fumble. An opportunity for redemption presents itself when one of the publishing firm’s authors finds herself in need of a script doctor. Once again, Diana interrupts Liza’s professional development at the firm, trying to intimidate her ambitious, capable assistant into staying chained at her side. This plot progresses Liza as a character, as she discovers and hones a hidden talent; her adversary, however, reacts to Liza’s attempts at advancement in the same way that she always does, and no further explanation is given that might shed further light on Diana’s coldness.

Despite Diana’s protests, Liza works on her new assignments, impressing Kelsey and Charles with her prowess for script doctoring. The original author serves as Liza’s foil—one among many that she’s encountered throughout the season in the writers’ efforts to reinforce the themes of the show. This time, the approach isn’t entirely successful due to diminishing returns, an underdeveloped foil, and clunky execution. Liza isn’t mature enough to work on a fortysomething’s manuscript! She’s too young to possibly understand fortysomething concerns like aging and childbirth! The writing device doth protest too much.

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Over-obvious dialogue that basically restates the premise of the show without delivering any new information distracts; at this point, viewers are aware of Liza’s background and her peers’ resentment of the younger generation—that concept is the essence of Diana’s character. The season and the episodes themselves are too short to justify repetition, and the viewers themselves are sophisticated enough that they don’t require excessive hand-holding. In contrast, Liza’s horror when Josh’s roommate bursts into the bathroom while the couple is enjoying an intimate soak reinforces the difficulty of living a lie subtly, and is funny to boot. This running gag is still one of my favorites on the show because it illustrates Liza’s predicament, and the kind of gulf that can exist between the two parties in a relationship, in such a relatable way. Now Josh is also aware of that gulf and the fallout awaits. Despite some of my frustrations with this script, fun and engaging episodes like these stoke my excitement for the season finale, as well as my dread in the face of a long hiatus until Season Two.

Stray observations:

· “L’chaim, bitches!”

· Maggie is apparently an O.W.L., meaning an older, wise lesbian. “Hoot, hoot.”

· “There was an entire decade when you were in a PTA fugue.”

· “You’re getting your own coffee?” “I like to keep my life skills sharp…you know, in case there’s another Sandy.”

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· “That’s in the Torah? I could’ve sworn that was an episode of Game Of Thrones.”

· It was a throwaway joke, but I’d like to think that sometimes Josh really does think he’s a ninety-year-old fisherman in Japan.

· Can we have a moratorium on fake-outs where a character thinks someone has guessed her secret, when in fact the person in question is talking about something entirely different? Keep that up, Charles, and you’re out of the love triangle.

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· The confrontational fortysomething author is played by the same actress who played Saturday Night Live’s casting director on Sex And The City. You know the one; she kept making a face at Carrie after recognizing her as the woman who had cheated on Aiden. She is really good at being scary.