Younger premiered on TVLand March 31, 2015. It’s about Liza, a 40-year-old woman, recently divorced, who must get back into the job market after staying home for fifteen years to raise her daughter. She interviews with execs in their mid-twenties who look down on her for her age. Well, they don’t just look down on her, they discriminate her for it.
“That would be weird. I mean, assistants are generally right out of college, you’re way too old….”
From the title and dialogue in the pilot I got the feeling that being in your 40s was akin to death: if you’re a 40-ish mother you’re irrelevant and if you’re a 40-ish career woman you’re bitter.
Since I stumbled across the pilot by accident on Hulu, I did some background research to find out what the creative thoughts were behind the show and maybe get a better understanding of what the title meant. What is it to act younger, think younger, live younger – to be seen as younger?
What really drew me to the book Younger was the themes about ageism and how people perceive us and how they look at our age as a number is not always a reflection of who we are. So this is a story of a woman who’s 40-years old and divorced and trying to restart her life, but is finding that her number is causing her some difficulty, so she creates this idea of passing herself off as a 26-year old. I think a lot of women take time off from work to raise their kids and poke their heads back up and are ready to get back in there and realize the world is looking at them in a different way. But inside they still feel young and they still feel relevant and they have a lot of skills and a lot of talent that they’re not being recognized for.
If you’re 40 you still have that 20-something person still inside of you. And you can still express who that person is and I think that is what people will hopefully connect to with this show. It’s age and it’s more than a number and it’s more about who you are inside.
At first glance I thought maybe the Younger pilot was setting up for more depth in the future – that they were building a foundation with all the myths and stereotypes they plan to destroy. It would be a dangerous plan because the pilot gives no indication, nor does Star, that they really understand female ageism.
The idea that Liza is “trying to restart her life” would mean that it stopped when she got married, had a baby, and left her career. Repeatedly, Liza makes references to cultural and current events she’s clueless about because she’s had her head in the sand for fifteen years. It’s plausible that she doesn’t have her own Twitter account but I find it difficult to believe a mother with a daughter in high school is so ignorant about social media.
“When did Bombay become Mumbai?” – Liza†
At 52, I’ll readily admit I don’t feel or think my age, but I’m not denying it either. Star and Younger portray the ideal female image as a stylish, social-tech savvy, single, career woman in her mid-twenties. The actress playing Liza, Sutton Foster, just turned forty in March – that happened under the wire. Even in her grown-up clothes it’s difficult for Foster to look forty-ish. The advantage Foster brings to her character is that she can pull off 26 – something most of us can’t do but is apparently very important.
“The problem with Trout-pout is that she’s 43 and divorced. She sees girls like us come in here with our fresh ovaries and our faces plumped with natural elasticity and she just wants to destroy us.” – Kelsey Peters, played by Hilary Duff
The message to Liza isn’t just that sex, fun, and relevance ended when she chose to leave her career. Liza’s boss, Diana Trout (Miriam Shor, 43), isn’t much better off as a top marketing executive. Mean, bitter, and strung as tight as her French twist, her age and failed marriage (or the fact that she married to begin with) has made her the evil queen.
What horrible options we women have!
“We’re only in our twenties once…. Well, you gotta live it. Before you know it you’re going to be in your forties, living in a house in the suburbs, with a husband who watches TV all night while you’re in your bathtub spritzing your shower hose on your special place.” – Kelsey Peters
What I understand from Younger is that when women turn 40 it’s time to reboot. The ideal for women is 20-something so get a makeover, join the latest social media accounts, get a boy toy, hide your children, and listen to One Direction (oops).
I’ll Give You a Topic
If you could have any plastic surgery, what would it be?
Does Younger also misrepresent 20-somethings? If so, how?
How did things change when you became a parent?
>† The name change happened in 1996, which is four years before the birth of Liza’s daughter.