The Spool / TV
Younger Recap: Marriage and Moving On in “Friends With Benefits”
The rivalry between Millennial and Mercury may be over, but the friction has only just begun.
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The rivalry between Millennial and Mercury may be over, but the friction has only just begun.

Thus far the majority of S6 of Younger has been dedicated to the battle between Millennial and Mercury for publishing supremacy, but after the events of “Merger, She Wrote“, a cease-fire has been declared. Last week, I wondered where the conflict for the remainder of the season would come from and while ‘Friends With Benefits’ offers a few glimpses, there is one in particular that stands out:

Zane (Charles Michael Davis) is a HUGE dick.

It was evident from the way that Charles (Peter Hermann) proposed the merger last week that he was in favour of it, but there was no mention of how Zane felt. “Friends With Benefits” makes it abundantly clear in Zane’s first scene, as he not-so passive-aggressively spars with Kelsey (Hilary Duff) at the coffee machine about “propping” Millennial up. Zane – and to a lesser extent Charles – clearly aren’t fully on board with the idea that they’re no longer competing with Millennial, or that they now both report to Kelsey. Their unwillingness to compromise with her suggestions or cede to her demands verges on dangerously unprofessional.

Zane’s attitude is particularly bad in “Friends With Benefits”, most notably in the meeting when Kelsey is trying to identify the first book that Millennial and Mercury will jointly release. Kudos to the Younger production team for the absolutely ridiculous galley art that they whipped up for the Master and Commander-style book that Charles and Zane are backing. It is so bland, generic and pulpy; it practically screams “schlocky airport thriller.”

Add in the way that Zane refuses to back down, and eventually storms out, when Kelsey politely reminds him that they’re looking for a title that speaks to both male and female readers? In the vast majority of the offices, that would have been grounds for a stern disciplinary meeting and a write-up on your permanent record.

I’d wager that we haven’t seen the last of the torrid tale of Charles’ May/December romance with the wife of a famous novelist.

So Zane will inevitably continue to be a problem, though Charles’ clear reluctance to acquiesce to Kelsey and her discomfort in challenging (or saying no) to her former Mentor will also need to be dealt with. Hence, conflict thy name is inter-office collaboration.

Plus: the newly merged publishers still need a book! Charles appears to put the kibosh on the unpublished manuscript that Liza (Sutton Foster) finds while snooping through his boxes, but I’d wager that we haven’t seen the last of the torrid tale of Charles’ May/December romance with the wife of a famous novelist. Especially given the promo for next week’s episode, which sees the return of Charles’ ex Pauline (Jennifer Westfeldt), whose real-life tome famously put Millennial on the map. There’s a certain poetic justice in the idea of Charles’ own tell-all manuscript being the book that now saves the day, right?

This is the kind of conflict that I can get behind, especially if it means that Younger sidesteps the unwelcome reintroduction of the love triangle that was teased last episode and reared its ugly head again here in “Friends With Benefits”.

At this point we’re six seasons in, and while I can appreciate Liza feeling rattled about the creeping sense that she’s falling back into a more stable (read: boring) lifestyle with “Chocolate, but nearly Vanilla” Charles, that doesn’t mean that Josh (Nico Tortorella) and his newborn baby are the answer. For now, Younger appears content to simply hold Josh up as an alternative – a life that Liza could have if she makes other decisions – as opposed to a viable romantic partner, but the lid needs to stay on the tired “who will she choose” love triangle plot.

It’s done.

Miriam Shor and Chris Tardio in Younger 6.07

Random Thoughts:

  • I do appreciate the visual symbolism of having Charles’ boxes (aka the baggage from his past marriage) literally cluttering up Liza’s life as she tries to figure out what she wants moving forward. It ain’t subtle, but it works.
  • Mazel Tov to Diana (Miriam Shor), who begins the episode loudly announcing that she will never marry and therefore, naturally, winds up engaged by episode’s end. It’s a very sweet, albeit “spontaneous” proposal from Enzo (Chris Tardio) considering that they’ve apparently only been dating for eight months. Still, Diana is long overdue for a) some permanency in her relationship and b) some new storylines.
  • Also: did everyone catch the “Mercury Rising” comment that Diana makes early in the episode when she, Liza and Lauren (Molly Bernard) are working on the press release announcing the merger? This confirms that Diana and I are basically the same person and that I could easily be a writer for the show. TVLand folks, reach out to me. I’m available!
  • FYI: Men have “the stare” while women have “Resting Bitch Face”, which once again feels like Younger dabbling in some outdated gender norms.
  • The brief mention of “Exonerated”, the tell-all murder book by Audrey Colbert, during the pitch meeting gives me hope that we’ll see the character at least one more time before the season ends.
  • Finally, has anyone seen Maggie (Debi Mazar)? Anyone?! After getting a tired, gross storyline last episode, she barely even appears in this one. #JusticeForMaggie is back on the table, folks!