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'Younger' series premiere recap: It's only a lie if you get caught

Season 1 | Episodes 1 & 2 | “Pilot” & “Liza Sows Her Oates” | Aired Mar 31, 2015

When I gushed to a few friends about a new comedy called Younger on TV Land, I got the look. The one with the skeptical eyes that reads, “Are you serious?” After a much-deserved eye roll for them judging me before learning more about it, I explained that Younger is from Darren Star, the creator of Sex and the City. It’s about a 40-year-old divorced mother who pretends she’s 26 to get a job at a publishing house. Oh, and it also stars Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire!).

The thing about good show creators, like Darren Star, is that they will take their show anywhere. TV Land is a perfect place for an easy, fun, cross-generational comedy like Younger. While its themes suit the network and its style is reminiscent of past sitcoms, Younger does not feel like a rerun at all. It holds its own with a charming cast of characters, sophisticated and smart writing, and great style.

Nico Tortorella plays Josh in TV Land

“How did I miss the memo on Brooklyn?”

After leaving her gambling and cheating ex-husband, Liza (Sutton Foster) needs to find a job. Following a terribly awkward and judgmental job interview with two 20-somethings, Liza isn’t feeling all too confident. All the jobs she’s applied for are looking for 25-year-olds, not 40-year-old divorced mothers.

During a night out in Brooklyn with her best friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar), Liza is approached by a hot hipster tattoo artist, Josh (Nico Tortorella). Liza is amused by him. He’s attentive, if a tad arrogant, and she is surprised that he thinks she’s only 26.

Liza laughs off the encounter with Maggie, which gives Maggie an idea! Maggie proposes that Liza pretend she’s 26 to get a job. At first it seems like a ridiculous idea, but before we know it, we’re treated to a makeover montage of Liza turning back the clock with makeup, highlights, and what looks like lots of Free People. By the end, I have to say that Sutton Foster has quite a timeless look about her; for really being 40, she pulls off 26 very well.

Sutton Foster and Debi Mazar star in TV Land

“I’m a grown-up. I don’t think I’m special.”

However, you can’t just look 26; you have to act it. Once she lands the job working for Diana, an older marketing executive with a slight contempt for millennials, Liza needs to learn how to use Twitter, Snapchat, etc., and how to market to a younger crowd. This is where a lot of the millennial spoofing comes into play with hashtag talk, Taylor Swift inspirational quotes, Krav Maga, and warnings on how to avoid becoming a bored, depressed housewife when you turn 40.

The spoofy moments are entertaining and funny, especially that little spin on #ToplessTuesday and Joyce Carol Oates, which they pull off. Yet I like how the show still manages to transcend all of that. Liza realizes that being a millennial is more than knowing all the members of One Direction and how to get thousands of followers on Twitter. Liza meets Kelsey (Hilary Duff), a young, rising editor who also once worked for Diana. (I’ll get more into Diana later on in the season, but just know that she’s one of the show’s best characters, and her statement necklaces will stun you.)

Kelsey takes Liza under her wing, and it’s so refreshing to see a female work relationship that isn’t fueled by jealousy and competition. The bond they forge is strong. Kelsey shows us the type of ambitious young woman who knows about the Kardashians but still wants to read a 400-page English translation of a Swedish book about life’s universal truths. It surprises Liza that Kelsey would be in a relationship with someone like Thad, who (upon first meeting) ranks high the douchebag meter. Kelsey brushes off some of Liza’s concerns, but instead of being mad at her for questioning her relationship, she lets it go. Not much later, Kelsey helps Liza by encouraging her to go on a date with Josh with a big YOLO speech.

Liza is having second thoughts about moving forward with Josh. They had a nice first date, and the next day, the two end up taking a stroll around the ‘Burg (a.k.a. Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn). From their first meeting, you know the chemistry is there. Seeing them get to know each other and how comfortable they are together makes them all the more intriguing. For one, there’s this huge lie between them, and it’s going to hurt when it comes out. Therefore, after sharing a kiss, Liza puts the brakes on their relationship. Instead of telling the truth about her age, she makes the “focused on work only” excuse.

Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster star in TV Land

“My life just got interesting, and I can’t even talk about it.”

It’s almost easy to forget about the lie, since Liza is living it so fully. In fact, I think her awkwardness sells the lie even more. She takes breaks from the lying, though—especially when her daughter calls from India, where she’s studying abroad. Her daughter isn’t aware of her mom’s new life, so it’s a little jarring to see Liza turn on mom mode, admonishing her daughter for taking a topless selfie and running about with a “pillow-lip genius.” Of course, she’s able to be herself with Maggie, who supports her second chance at 26. Maggie is a great friend because she knows the lie is bad, yet she sees how it’s helping her friend. Early on, Liza says she regrets some of her decisions, like not following Maggie’s “lesbian artist living in Brooklyn” path. Maggie doesn’t agree with her because she knows Liza well and reminds Liza that she had good reasons for her past decisions.

We also get to see more of Old Liza when she runs into some old friends, who end up setting her up on a blind date with another divorcee. The blind date is a talker and not very interesting, and he honestly lost me once he put “Chipotle” and “healthy eating” in the same sentence.

Obviously, it’s not working for them, and when her date ignores her to check an email, she sees a cute, flirty text from Josh. Next thing, we see Liza, hair down, rocking a leather jacket and walking briskly through Brooklyn in Josh’s direction. She kisses Josh and says, “I really needed to do that.” He replies with a smile, “That’s it?” She walks away before turning back to say, “For now.”

The series is shot on location in Brooklyn and around New York, and has the costume designer from Sex and the City. Darren Star is bringing back a girlie comedy about getting older, wiser, and better that we can truly get behind.

Younger airs Tuesday nights at 10/9C on TV Land.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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