Recently, when searching for a new show to watch, I decided to check out Younger. Younger airs on TV Land and was created by Darren Star, whose credits include Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place and Sex and the City. So it had to be good, right?
But initially, I wasn’t interested. In fact, I was offended by the premise: a 40-year-old woman pretends to be 26 so she can get a job in publishing.
The main character, Liza, had put her career on the back burner when she became a mom. But now, 18 years later, she’s getting a divorce and needs to go back to work to support her college-bound daughter. The problem is, no one will hire her.
I was annoyed about a woman my age pretending to be younger to get work. I was annoyed that the show was perpetuating the myth that our best years are in our 20s; that you have to make all the right choices or be screwed forever.
But two of my 40-something friends recommended Younger and swore it was funny and worth the time. Plus, I was exhausted from crying over This Is Us, so I gave it a shot. I was immediately hooked. I’m now caught up on the first five seasons and am (sadly) watching the show in real-time. The binge-watching bliss couldn’t last forever, I know.
Here’s why I love Younger and encourage you to binge-watch it too:
It makes the argument that age is only a thing when we make it a thing. Liza doesn’t have to change dramatically to pull off the charade of appearing to be a millennial. Whether she’s hanging out with her 40-something roommate, or her 20-something co-worker, she wears both ages well. Circumstances shape our perception.
The characters are likeable. Even Diana, Liza’s mean boss. Over time, you begin to understand why she’s so guarded. She’s in a position of power, but she feels like she has to protect that position to keep from losing it. Once you see through the facade, she’s quite funny. Sometimes you get glimpses of her heart, and it’s endearing. This is true for all of the characters.
The show highlights generational stereotypes, in a good-natured and humorous way. No matter our age, on any given day we can alternate between being wise and acting stupid.
Authenticity matters most. Liza’s living a big lie, true, but she’s also shedding the weight of her former life and becoming more like herself in the process. And she doesn’t lose sight of the most important thing—the why behind it all—her responsibility to her 18-year-old daughter.
We need each other. As people discover Liza’s secret, they’re understandably ticked off at first. And yet, Younger is really smart about how it illustrates true love, grace, forgiveness and respect. Whether the characters are at their best or their worst, no one is trying to drag down the other.
At the end of the day, they learn to take responsibility for their actions, work together, and fight for each other.
And I love that.
Note: I watch Younger on AT&T U-verse On Demand and it’s also streaming on Hulu.