'Younger's' Darren Star: Season Finale Creates "Whole New Playing Field" for Liza and Josh

"Season one is about reinvention and season two is about redefining a lot of relationships," he tells THR.
Courtesy of TV Land

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season one finale of TV Land's Younger.]

That was a close call.

During Tuesday's season one finale of TV Land's Younger, Liza (Sutton Foster) came this close to selling her soul to former friend-turned-competitor Cheryl (guest star Martha Plimpton), but opted instead to fight for what she believed in: herself.

After Cheryl attempted to blackmail Liza for information about Imperical's bid for the Ellen DeGeneres book, Liza opted to protect Kelsey (Hilary Duff) — and her position at the company. Liza ultimately realized that Cheryl had more to lose than she did and threatened to blackmail her former friend.

Meanwhile, Josh (Nico Tortorella) — still reeling from the truth about Liza's age — protects her secret after Kelsey and Lauren (Molly Bernard) attempt to mend their friend's relationship and pay him a visit. Josh confesses to them that he felt like he "never really knew" Liza, and Kelsey ends up sharing that with Liza, who in turn, delivers a video slideshow to her ex. The duo close out season one with a meeting in which they start anew — after Josh learns that Liza is really a divorced, 40-year-old with an 18-year-old daughter who is poised to return home after studying abroad.

So where does Younger go from here? The Hollywood Reporter caught up with series creator Darren Star to get the scoop on season two of the critical darling.

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The season ended with Liza and Josh going for coffee. Is this a sign that they're picking up their romance again?

I think it's left rather open-ended and a bit ambiguous. They have to redefine who they are to each other and it's a whole new playing field. In a sense, it's redefines the show a bit.

Liza's daughter, Caitlin (Tessa Albertson), is returning home. How might she respond to her mother's new career and secret life?

We're talking about that now in the writers' room. I think she's going to be surprised, skeptical and supportive. It's a mixed emotional bag because one thing any child wants from a parent is to be a parent and an adult. A question we talk a lot about a lot is, "What is the magic that makes anybody access that 26-year-old inside of them?" We've always kept the daughter alive; she's an important character, and Liza's maternal instincts have always been front and center for us — and I don't think that's going to change. It makes the game a little more complicated for her.

Liza has an 18-year-old daughter, friends in their early- to mid-20s at work — how will she explain this to them? Her daughter is home for the duration, right?

Caitlin could be a big part of season two. Those are other questions we're playing with in the writers' room now. We're having a lot of similar discussions that the viewers probably are right now. Thematically, I think people may have thought this was a show about a woman who has to pretend she's in her 20s in order to get a job. And it is about ageism in a sense, but it's also about how age is a state of mind — and that you can access a younger self. And that's what this character does. She doesn't have a magic spell put on her; she's accessing something inside of her, a younger part of herself. That becomes harder to do when your teenage daughter is there.

What about Caitlin and Josh? What kind of relationship might they have?

I certainly know women who are dating younger men and have daughters in their 20s; it's not always the most comfortable situation. I feel like the Josh and Liza story becomes much more real, and in some ways very relatable. We talk a lot about the double standard — if it's a man who is 40 dating a 26-year-old woman, no one is thinking twice about it. 

Season one was about reinvention and Josh finding out Liza's secret. Is there a theme for season two?

We're talking about how Liza is accessing that twenty-something self — how does she stay in touch with it and how important is it? In part, season one is about reinvention and season two is about redefining a lot of relationships.

Liza also seemed to have a natural bond with Imperical's main boss, Charles (Peter Hermann). How much more of their relationship will we see?

We're definitely going to keep that relationship alive. We don't ever want Liza to be cavalier about why she lies and why she needs to keep a lie alive and to whom she's keeping a secret. She's certainly not going to be out to everybody.

Might there be any sort of a love triangle between Liza, Charles and Josh?

We want to do what feels organic. What's wonderful is the actors have great chemistry and we want to exploit that. A lot of the show is about what's important to Liza — getting this career that she didn't get a chance to really have — and how important is a career in terms of defining who she is and having a second chance at a career she left behind. That's important to this character, and the show is very much about that how fulfilling a working career can be.

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Liza and Kelsey have a really great friendship, which was almost compromised by Cheryl. How big of a factor was Kelsey in Liza's decision to avoid selling her soul to Cheryl?

That friendship is real and valuable to Liza and that is the juggling act that always happens in this show: at the core, this is a deceitful heroine — and I like that. She plays in the gray area and is a woman who at her core is a strong, good, ethical person except there's one little lie. But that lie causes her to live in the gray area a little bit. Her friendship with Kelsey has definitely caused a lot of those decisions.

Liza dodged a bullet with Cheryl. Could that be something that comes back to haunt her?

It could be. I love Martha Plimpton and would love to see her come back.

By this point, Diana knows that she has someone special in Liza. How much longer can she be trapped in this assistant job?

We want to give Liza opportunities to do more than be an assistant. At the same time, as anyone who has had a great assistant knows, nobody wants to let a good one go. I don't think Diana is going to let Liza off the hook so. I think she's going to give her room to grow. But for next year, I think Liza will do anything for Diana.

Do you have a plan for who finds out Liza's secret next?

We do have a plan. I think it's an important secret. The secret is the premise of the show, certainly, but to me the show has always been about intergenerational friendship between women — and all people — and intergenerational romance. What defines age? What are the labels we put on people based on the numbers they are? That's what the show is about at its core and that's the bigger theme. That's what I like to keep my eye on in terms of what we think about age.

How do you determine who should be next? Do you have a list?

We don't treat it that methodically. One thing we discussed last year a lot was Liza keeping her secret for her job. We couldn't end the season with her keeping her secret from Josh because that relationship is real and valuable to her and she didn't need to lie. At some point, it's hard to tell truth to someone you have been lying to. Anyone who has lied about their age in a relationship knows it's hard to come clean. It was important for us that Liza did come clean with Josh because whatever happens in their relationship, it was important for her to be honest because ultimately the lie is about having a job, not having a boyfriend.

What would it take for Liza to go public at work? How much more does she have to prove herself, since she already has fans and supporters in Kelsey and Charles?

That's what we're all talking about in the writers' room. She's put herself in a very compromised position because a lie is a lie. In terms of work, the stakes only get higher and the consequences are greater.

Will there be a time jump when season two returns?

It's not a huge time jump. We have a lot of possibilities in mind. We're just excited we're telling more story. 

Younger returns for its second season in January. What are you looking forward to seeing? Sound off in the comments below.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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