I’ve been hooked on TVLand’s “Younger” since Day 1. I mean, Broadway legend (and star of ABC Family’s short-lived “Bunheads” series, RIP) Sutton Foster stars alongside former child star Hilary Duff in a fun comedy brought to life by legendary “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star? What isn’t there to love?
And while I’m clearly not part of TVLand’s target demographic (especially at the time of the show’s season 1 premiere), the show’s witty dialogue, showcase of female friendships, and a killer storyline had me hooked from the pilot. (I even loved the book that the series was based on!) Whether you’re #TeamJosh or #TeamCharles, we can all totally agree to being #TeamYounger because it’s relevant, funny, and charming. It’s no wonder the season five premiere, that debuted on June 5, came one day after news of a season 6 renewal and coincided with the actual release of the “Marriage Vacation” book, and fans went crazy. (I mean, OMG that ending! Gobsmacked. What’s going to happen next?!?!) To celebrate the season five debut of our favorite summer series, let’s relive our favorite memories of the past four seasons of the Empirical gang (and friends) before following along with all the antics and adventures of season 5 this summer.
1. Diana’s Breakthrough and Realizing “I Deserve Better”
In Season 4, Diana, after falling for and cohabiting with her boyfriend Richard, she finally realizes how she doesn’t need him and is strong without him. It’s perhaps one of the character’s best shining moments where we see her humanity, vulnerability, and her strength. Where she realizes how much she’s grown and doesn’t need to put up with anyone that manipulates her and that she deserves better. Standing O for Diana (portrayed beautifully here by Miriam Shor). And ending with her staring into the mirror, tying off her gigantic flower necklace. Truly moving and empowering.
2. Maggie Continuing to Be a Badass
Early in Season 4, Josh dates Maggie’s former apprentice “Montana” who then appropriates Maggie’s work for her own gallery show. Naturally, the strong and confident Maggie doesn’t take it well. Hence, her and Liza crashing the art show, switchblade in hand. Bam. And then uses it to pick up a slice of pepperoni as she walks out. Could Maggie (Debi Mazar, accompanied by her own switchblade brought to set for this) be any more of a badass, no-nonsense woman? We could all use a bit a Maggie’s confidence to walk into any room and just own it.
3. Liza Wants Josh to “Have Everything”
Following Maggie’s Switchblade Escapade, we get such a sweet, tender moment between exes Josh (Nico Tortorella) and Liza (Sutton Foster) about why she kissed Charles in the Hamptons and her wanting to be the fun, bookish “Aunt Liza” to Josh’s future kids. While #TeamJosh may have been crushed, it’s a sweet moment of friendship because these two people really did—do— care about each other. It was a nice moment to cap the episode off with.
4. Season 4, Episode 4 “In the Pink”
This episode had some great female friendship moments, such as the four girls sitting on the couch, supporting each other. Another beautiful moment was the fight between Kelsey (Hilary Duff) and Liza (for Liza withholding her secret) concluded with Kelsey understanding how everything her friend did was for her daughter, and that was a sweet empathetic moment for the two friends to become closer. This episode seemed to be the epitome of what the show is really about and focuses on: female friendships. And what a nice sentiment, and one that’s not often seen as the central storyline on TV.
5. Diana and Kelsey Let Loose and Bond at a NYC Bar
I don’t think we’d ever seen these two characters have a social conversation prior to this scene. Diana, who has sort of become this mentor for her assistant Liza, only really had a professional relationship with coworker Kelsey. It was nice of Diana to recognize something she herself went through in Kelsey and then take on the role of mentor to her as well. And I mean, seriously, she’s right: “you can’t be sad or lonely surrounded by a drunken mob of gay men singing show tunes.” I’ve been to Marie’s Crisis, the New York bar they visit, and it’s exactly how they portray it, and it’s another aspect of female friendship and mentorship that makes this show special.
6. Bridging Liza’s Two Worlds… aka Fusing Millennial Culture With Her Real Life
One thing that I think engages Millennials to watch the show is definitely the use of modern cultural slang, terms, and Internet culture. (Some of which I barely even know before the episodes air!) One funny scene is Liza reading an old-school type definition of meme, where Kelsey points out examples (i.e. Salt Bae), and then the “real grown-ups” come up with “analog” versions to compare it to. This concept has been done on the show since the beginning, where in preparation for Liza’s first interview as a “26-year-old,” Maggie asks her to name the members of One Direction and choose her favorite one. A humorous part of the show that never fails to make me laugh.
7. The Importance of Female Friendships and Liza Being There for Kelsey When’s She Down
One of my favorite parts of the show is the focus on strong female friendships, such as this scene at the Millennial Imprint launch, where Liza physically is there to pick Kelsey up off the floor and cut her out of her dress, but also is there emotionally for her friend having a panic attack. It’s one of Liza’s strengths: how much she cares for people, especially her friends. It’s a nice moment to see, aside from the workplace comedy, Millennial slang and inside jokes, and love triangles and romantic interests, the focus on friendship is a nice central theme that keeps me engaging with the show season after season.
8. When Liza Meets Josh… And Her Double Life Is Officially Born
Upon meeting Josh for the first time, you start to see how this divorced mother could actually pass for 26 amongst other 26-year-olds in the city. Not only that, it’s the beginning of a silly gag of Liza doesn’t know this or that Millennial term, here it’s Lena Dunham. It’s a sweet exchange that establishes their chemistry as well as some funny moments adding some comedy to the show. This scene in the pilot, as well of the rest of the episode, had me hooked to keep watching, especially in the witty dialogue the writers create for each episode. Well done.
9. The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Between Liza and Kelsey
As previously established, the show does well at portraying and focusing on female friendships. Here in early season one, they found a way to show these two friends growing closer without losing a sense of comedy, like retrieving your friend’s stuck feminine “accoutrement.” These two women are comedy gold. Here for friends supporting and helping each other in need, always, no questions asked.
10. “You Pretty Woman’d Me!”
As Liza’s apology to Maggie for ditching her and her art show for her new twentysomething crew, she makes a big Pretty Woman-sized gesture to make up for it: showing up in a limo with roses to Maggie on their Williamsburg fire escapes. I loved this moment of female friendship on the show, especially between Maggie and Liza because it’s probably the one place where Liza is free of all the secrets and lies and Maggie still accepts her. It’s a beautiful friendship, and I love that they found a way to incorporate a moment from one of my favorite rom-coms so seamlessly and effortlessly into the plot.
Cheers to many more humorous, charming, and vulnerable moments in store for season five! And try not to audibly gasp when you get to that scene in the season 5 premiere: speaking from experience on that one. 😳