Arts & Culture · Film & Television

New Show ‘Younger’ Turns Back Time: Is 40 the New 26?

The situation is common enough. You leave a promising career to raise a family. Then suddenly you find yourself in your 40s with an empty nest and time on your hands. You assume you can pick up where you left off.

You assume wrong.

You see, the twentysomethings interviewing you may be smiling and nodding as you walk them through your impressive résumé, but what they’re really thinking is, “Dinosaur,” and “Where should I go for drinks after work?”

What’s an accomplished midlife woman to do?

That’s easy. You rewrite your résumé, update your wardrobe, highlight your hair, and pretend to be 26. It just might work. As long as you look like Sutton Foster.

 

Younger
Get More: Younger Official TV Show Website

 

Foster stars in the new TV Land half-hour comedy Younger, based on Pamela Redmond Satran’s novel of the same name. Pamela’s midlife identity crisis as Liza Miller is even more stressful than the one I’ve described. Her husband has left her for an Atlantic City blackjack dealer after taking out four mortgages on their suburban New Jersey home to pay his gambling debts. Thankfully, her daughter is spending a year in India, so she’s conveniently out of the picture (except for the occasional Skype) while her mom turns back time.

The plan works! (This is a sitcom, after all.) Soon Liza is the new assistant to publishing’s dragon-lady Diana Trout (nicknamed by the younger set “Trout Pout”). Miriam Shor (from ABC’s short-lived GCB) is deliciously evil and great fun to watch, but I often feel as if she’s channeling Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. I hope her character will develop a few of her own idiosyncrasies as the series progresses. From day one, though, it’s obvious that she’ll belittle Liza’s ideas to her face, then take credit for them in meetings. But what do you expect? As junior editor Kelsey (an all-grown-up Hilary Duff) explains, she’s in her 40s! “Pathetic.”

Liza agrees, relishing her newfound lingo, “Totes pathetic. Hashtag pa-thetic!”

Younger is written, executive produced, and directed by Darren Star, best known for HBO’s Sex and the City. So you can count on edgy dialogue with lots of vagina jokes. In the first episode, in fact, Liza’s cover is almost blown when she goes to the gym with two of her colleagues and they notice her—shall we say—lack of grooming down there. “I was doing volunteer work in India,” she lies, then rushes home to get advice from her lesbian BFF.

Debi Mazar plays Maggie, an artist who lets the now homeless Liza crash at her loft (much is made of the fact that Maggie bought the loft before Brooklyn became cool and overpriced). Maggie is happy to offer girl-on-girl advice to her incognito pal. She also adds a level of smart sarcasm, which is refreshing and fun.

Despite the odds, Liza seems to be getting away with it all. She learns how to tweet (as Elizabeth Bennet, no less: “Mr. Darcy just sent me an etching of his manhood, what should I do?”) and what it means to trend. She leverages Instagram’s “Topless Tuesday” to promote the new book by Joyce Carol Oates: “Show us your Oates.” And she looks adorable—and believably 26—in a quirky new wardrobe combination of thrift shop, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. (Patricia Field, who worked with Star on Sex and the City, is costume consultant on the series, so we can expect some outrageous looks in coming episodes.)

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  • Susan Barker April 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I have an even crazier idea for a show: A 52 year old woman becomes an empty nester, divorcee and is forced out of the business she worked 24 years to create. Did I mention this all plays out over the course of about 30 days. She has the most unbelievable girlfriends who surround her with love and support and more than a glass of red wine or two — literally carrying her through one of the most difficult periods in her life. That’s because women of a certain age know the value of true girlfriends. Then the husband of a perceptive girlfriend mentions he needs someone to assist with his law practice. Never mind the woman worked in M&A (music and arts) for 24 years — in four months she finds herself working in another M&A space — Mergers and Acquisitions. She now helps good people do good work and — though she could almost be every employees mother or older sister — guess what? Not one soul has ever asked for her age. Now that’s a fairy tale right? No. That is a firm belief that women of a certain age bring common sense, humor, perspective and kindness to the workplace which they do. That woman was and is me. I am going to tune in for an episode or two but I am not yet certain whether I will laugh or cry. Further, I am not yet certain if I should find the series entertaining or infuriating. WWWVFC do?

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  • California Girl April 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Somehow, passing oneself off as 26 when they are 40 is pretty darn unrealistic. I know alot of great looking 40 something women. But no way could they get away with that.

    It figures this is written by a man. Ya gotta love Hollywood fantasy.

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