Younger Recap: Old Is Out in “Big Day”

Younger Younger (TV Land)

TV Land’s hit comedy returns for a sixth season in the wake of a big power play.

The return of Younger is a sure sign that summer has finally arrived. This sweet diversion is the definition of perfect escapist television, which probably explains how the series is already in its sixth (!) season (the Darren Star connection likely doesn’t hurt either).

When Younger began it trafficked in the ridiculous fantasy that a forty-something woman could pose as a late twenty-something ingenue in order to kick start a second career. Somewhere in the last five years, the series has morphed from a deception-based workplace comedy with romantic overtones into a full-blown soap opera. The half-hour episodes are now primarily interested in chronicling how the professional work lives of the characters impact their personal (read: sex) lives, especially now that fully 75% of Liza’s secret is more or less common knowledge. Throw in a hilariously unrealistic depiction of the publishing world and Younger truly is the perfect brand extension of Star’s sexy, sudsy empire.

Sidebar: the show’s carefully calculated balance between verisimilitude and fantasy is challenged only by The Bold Type, another series that heralds the start of beach read season and just finished its third season on Freeform.

Last season of Younger ended with three significant developments:

  1. Liza (Sutton Foster) and Charles (Peter Hermann)’s relationship was leaked to the press by the show’s George R.R. Martin stand-in character.
  2. Charles was subsequently forced to step down and Kelsey (Hilary Duff) was promoted to his job.
  3. Josh (Nico Tortorella), the other crucial member of Younger‘s perennial love triangle, was confronted by his endlessly irritating Irish ex-girlfriend, Clare (Phoebe Dynevor) who revealed that she is carrying his child.

It’s helpful to revisit these plot points, not because Younger is difficult to follow, but as a reminder of how well the series crafts cliffhangers that consistently breathe new life into what should by now be a very tired premise. And yet here we are, sixth seasons later.

Younger is just getting its new season started and judging from the “This season on Younger” trailer at the episode’s end, there will be PLENTY of Liza drama.

‘Big Day’ picks up in the (near) immediate aftermath. Charles is still unemployed, Liza has also been promoted and Kelsey is making her debut as the “youngest publisher in New York” (according to Molly Bernard’s Lauren, who is still clinging to Kelsey’s coat tails as her “social media strategist”). Naturally, the episode has barely even begun before financial backer Quinn (Laura Benanti) reveals that news about Charles and Liza’s relationship is about to leak on Page Six, prompting Diana (Miriam Shor) to flip out and Liza to loudly and publicly declare herself to be the 28-year-old in question.

Sutton Foster and Peter Hermann in Younger 6.01

It’s hard to understate how much the expediency of the series works in its favour. Running only 22 minutes per episode (a now nearly obsolete TV run time), Younger has no time to spare. This regularly necessitates burning through story and dropping constant bombs – or grenades (more on that shortly). It’s not long before Diana is meeting with gossip-hungry vulture Redmond (Michael Urie) to explore opportunities to leave Millennial and Kelsey learns that the company is hemorrhaging money. It should induce whiplash, but this is old hat for a series accustomed to balancing a plethora of fast-moving developments.

In fact if there’s one major complaint to be made about ‘Big Day,’ it is that there are so many story lines being juggled that Younger seemingly loses its lead actress in the shuffle. Outside of the opening scene – when she mistakenly lets slip that she loves Charles (whoops! Too soon!) – Liza is primarily playing second fiddle to Kelsey and Josh’s storylines.

Still, that’s a small price to pay in an episode that’s clearly doing a significant amount of table setting in anticipation of what’s to come. Younger is just getting its new season started and judging from the “This season on Younger” trailer at the episode’s end, there will be PLENTY of Liza drama as she’s torn between the two “loves” of her life: her current squeeze and her work bestie.

Random Thoughts:

  • Liza’s roomie Maggie (Debi Mazar) briefly pops up to give Charles the obligatory “don’t hurt my friend” chat and she also encourages Josh to confirm the paternity of Clare’s child. Look, I love that Maggie’s a good friend, but I really hope that she gets to do more than her usual “Dear Abby” routine or her typical three-episode romantic arc this season. #JusticeForMaggie
  • Although Zane (Charles Michael Davis) is no longer with Millennial, he and Kelsey maintain their flirty relationship. I like that these two beautiful people try to resist each other’s physical charms. Considering the way Zane fills out a dress shirt, I don’t entirely understand a) how Kelsey has any will-power and b) why the series doesn’t feature more shirtless scenes.
    • With that said, let’s take a (thirsty) minute to con-drag-ulate Mr. Hermann on his topless scene, because dayum.
  • For all of the gays and theatre geeks (who may, in fact, be one and the same) the highlight of the episode is OBVIOUSLY when Kelsey and Liza track down Diana at real-life NY piano bar Marie’s Crisis and convince her to stay on with a rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘9 to 5.’ Considering the singing chops of all three actresses, this scene is a goddamn delight. Is it entirely fan service? Absolutely. Does anyone care? Absolutely not.
  • I’m not a huge fashion guy but in the battle for best outfit of the premiere, who wins: Quinn’s slim white dress with diagonal black and red stripes or Liza’s sleeveless turtleneck dress with horse prints?
  • In case you were wondering, the “Glass Cliff” is a real concept and Kelsey’s concern that she’s being set-up for a fall is clearly going to be a significant component of her S6 arc. Presumably, it will also intersect with Charles’ inevitable attempt to poach Liza for whatever new enterprise he embarks on.
  • I’m not ready to talk about how much I hate Irish Clare, so let’s just leave her and the whole dumb wedding/break-up/baby thing to the side for now.
  • For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Joe and I’ll be covering Younger for The Spool this season. I’ve been a big fan of the show since it began, so I’m psyched to check out a new season of this ridiculousness with you.
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