In 2018, Vulture claimed Younger was “the best show on TV for book-publishing nerds, romance fans and admirers of the tall drink of distinguished water that is Peter Hermann.” They weren’t wrong but I’ll add another one to this list: This TV show is light escapist fare for anyone who has ever wanted to live and work in New York City. But as shiny and well-heeled as the dwellers in the Big Apple may appear on screen, Younger never insults our intelligence. In fact, its sixth season – which is streaming on Stan from today – is filled with sassy references like when Maggie (Debi Mazar) says Liza’s pantsuit and pussy bow looks like “Nancy Pelosi on the bottom and Melania Trump on the top.” “That’s no fun for anybody,” Liza replies through clenched teeth.
For the uninitiated, Younger follows the shenanigans of 40-something-year-old Liza (Sutton Foster) who lies about her age to a book publisher in order to get a job in the industry. Empire Publishing House think Liza is 27 and while navigating social media and denoting emojis plays up to the generation gap, when it comes to love, it’s not so much Liza’s age that is the issue so much so than the lie that complicated it in the first place. And so, for five seasons, we’ve been in limbo: Will Liza choose to be with Josh (played by Nico Tortorella) – the young, sweet, fiercely passionate tattoo artist – or Charles (played by Hermann), the age-appropriate, super successful and charming former book publisher. At the end of season five, we seemed to get an answer: Liza chose Charles, even if there was a hint of doubt.
Episode one of season six opens with Charles and his shirt unbuttoned. He’s at Liza’s loft in Williamsburg, a far cry from his palatial home in Manhattan. While interviewing Tortorella in New York City last year, he said something that really stuck with me. He said watching Liza and Charles kiss was like watching your parents kiss. “There’s just no chemistry,” he said down the phone line. And I have to agree. Their kissing style is anything but the passionate embrace that should happen when you finally get what you want.
Josh has just learned he is going to be a father (although Maggie isn’t convinced he is actually the baby’s dad, a suspicion I think will develop in the plotline soon). Poor Josh though is still so madly in love with Liza and we catch him deep in thought for a life that could have been every time he’s with her. She thinks about it too. Watch the episode and you’ll understand.
(Tortorella – a gender non-conforming actor – has definitely put a positive mark on the script. At Josh’s baby shower, guests are addressed as “Ladies, Gentlemen and Non-Binaries”.)
While Younger has always been really good at pushing its central story line forward, it definitely comes to a screaming halt when Liza and Kelsey (Hilary Duff) sing Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 in a karaoke bar in a bid to win back their boss Diana (Mariam Shor) who begins searching for a new job. It’s jarring and weird – and Foster looks like she’s on Broadway and Duff is filming an episode of Lizzie McGuire.
The second episode ends with a voice-over from Diana who speaks with the same inflections as Gossip Girl. I was truly half-expecting Robyn to begin singing Dancing On My Own and Chuck and Blair to kiss on the piano. Diana has hurt her boyfriend’s feelings and in a bid to win him over, she publishes an article about their love story in the newspaper. When he reads it, he races to her apartment and in his best Matthew McConaughey How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days impersonation, he asks Diana if she meant it. “I meant every word,” she says quoting Kate Hudson’s Andie Anderson verbatim.
Yes, the return of season six is cheesy. But if you really listen to Diana’s voice-over, there’s a nice little lesson that ties all six seasons together and rings true to those loyal romance fans.
“The dreams we have as a child. The dreams we pack into a box for college.
Dreams you unpack when you move into your first apartment. Who you’ll meet. Where you’ll work. Who you’ll fall in love with.
Think you have it all figured out? Life has better ideas.
A bigger imagination takes bigger chances than someone like me a year ago, moving through her forties in a cloud of old ideas.
Life gives you more than you thought.
But maybe not in the package you expected.
It’s deeper than that. It’s what you need underneath the want.
It gives you what you can’t breathe without.
So go ahead and plan. Just know, when all your scheming and planning and hoping is done, life plans back.”
Until next time. XOXO.
The first episode of season six of Younger has just dropped today on STAN. You can catch-up on all five seasons on Stan.