1:57pm PT by Jackie Strause
Why 'Younger' Is Ready to Exist Beyond Liza’s Secret
This season on Younger, Liza finds out that her actions have consequences.
The June 28 premiere of the TV Land series saw Liza (Sutton Foster) confessing her true age of 41 to her millennial best friend Kelsey (Hilary Duff) — and it did not go over well. Kelsey left Liza's apartment in the middle of the night and by the end of the episode, she had moved in with Josh (Nico Tortorella), Liza's burned ex who was in need of a new roommate. By the end of Wednesday's episode, Liza is still being punished for her lies, shut out by the two people she betrayed most.
"It really sucked," Foster tells The Hollywood Reporter of having to play out the schism between her and Duff's characters in the beginning of the fourth season. "The writers do not go easy on Liza and she deserves it. She kind of needs to get put through the wringer, and she does."
Though, eventually, Foster says Liza and Kelsey will find their way over this friendship hump, the actress views Liza's premiere confession as a way of making up for her season three transgressions.
"All of it was very selfish — from ending it with Josh and blowing it up by kissing Charles (Peter Hermann), and then going behind Kelsey’s back to sell a book," recaps Foster. "Telling Kelsey was a way to redeem herself for all of those actions."
Younger has centered on Liza's big lie — the character fibbed her age back in season one in order to get the entry-level publishing job she has since been excelling at — but creator Darren Star told THR the show is ready to move beyond the original conceit, and Foster agrees.
"I feel like the show can actually exist beyond the secret," she says. "The writers are incredibly creative with how they’re revealing it because the relationships with the characters are existing without it anyway. I think there could be a world where everyone knows."
In the Younger world, Kelsey is the only character at Empirical Press who now knows the truth about Liza. So she seeks out Josh as a shoulder to lean on, united in their anger over Liza's lying.
"I feel like the show really is about Liza and Kelsey's friendship, and that shifts this year when Kelsey figures out how she's going to handle finding out the truth," Duff tells THR. "The other story that's really heavy for Kelsey is that she is kicking ass at work and taking it really seriously, and not always feeling respected. It's fun this year to feel strong."
Star infused the post-election climate into the New York City-set series this season by continuing to tackle the show's central conversation about truth. "It wasn't really about trying to reflect a headline. Instead, it was: How does what the show is about coincide with the moment we're living?" he told THR. His answer was to set Liza on a path where she not only confronts her own truth, in part, but also has to rewrite her own narrative — and create "alternative facts" — in order to maintain her fake existence.
"If someone you worked with was telling you this, you would think they were a complete psychopath," says Duff of how Kelsey handles the new information at work. "Kelsey is so shocked that Liza isn't who she says she is, but the second thing that sets in before the anger is making sure her work isn’t affected by this reveal. Kelsey is not going to let Liza ruin her imprint, Millennial Print, and all that she's worked so hard for. She's going to protect it with everything."
Kelsey does throw herself into her work, but Duff hints that Kelsey will have her own struggles up ahead. Something that also coincided with the current climate was the female empowerment at the heart of the series, which will include both Kelsey and Liza rising up their respective professional ladders.
"You see a side of Kelsey that you haven't before and she starts to unravel a little bit," says Duff. "We have grown up so much as characters. There's a heaviness to the show this season that wasn’t there before. All of us feel very comfortable in our characters and have gotten to do something different this season. My character's journey is very relatable to someone in their late 20s who has had success and is driven, but also doesn't have everything figured out. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? There is a lot of self-doubt that comes with the success and pressure you put on yourself as you are exiting your 20s."
That self-doubt leads to some questionable decision-making, Duff and Star both hinted, and whether that involves Josh remains to be seen.
"It's only natural that these two find each other — they've both been destroyed by the same woman," Tortorella tells THR of Josh finding himself in a potentially new love triangle this season, while his initial triangle with Liza and Charles continues. "I really hope Josh and Liza find peace with each other. They have both taught each other so much, and I look at it how I look at my own relationships with my exes: When you love somebody that much and invest yourself into a relationship, how could you completely disappear from their lives?"
Neither Tortorella nor Star would shut the door on a reconciliation between Liza and Josh, but Foster admits that she's Team Charles.
"The problem is Liza loves two men and it’s hard for her," she says. "There’s a part of her that will always love Josh and he will always love Liza. But the Charles of it all hasn’t been explored yet, and that’s why I say I’m Team Charles. I want them to have their moment."
Hermann, too, says he's chomping at the bit for Charles to discover the truth. Though the lie would threaten their professional relationship, personally it would place them on an age-appropriate playing field.
"In the beginning of the season, Charles is determined to stay out of Liza's life and he fails miserably," Hermann tells THR. "When someone has made their way into your heart, it's really hard to kick them out. But he knows that he complicates her life." The actor adds, "I identify with Charles' endeavor to manage the negotiation between his head and his heart. So in that sense, I'm deeply Team Charles because I like him so much."
If and when Charles does finally get let in on the secret, Hermann thinks the result will be a complicated one.
"It would be a really beautiful aspect to see this age barrier fall between them, but it also would make him have to re-edit everything," he says. "That means interactions or moments together where you thought the other person was being their honest self. That's something to process."
Are you Team Charles, Team Josh, Team Kelsey or Team Liza? Tell THR why in the comments below and head here for all coverage of Younger, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TV Land.