The television world has been searching for something in whatever genre you want to place TV Land‘s Younger for at least seven years. Efforts have come and gone, with varying degrees of success, but none of them have managed to really catch hold. The demographic has had options to entertain them, but not absolutely in the genre.
Sutton Foster may be the person to change that, and this may be the gimmick that combines the necessary elements in a way that can showcase the commentary and humor, without getting bogged down in complexities.
Based on the novel of the same name by Pamela Redmond Satran, Foster plays Liza Miller, a 40-year-old recent divorcee who is having trouble getting back into the publishing business, because she sidelined her career to raise her daughter. When someone mistakes her for being in her mid-20s, she decides to reboot herself completely, and apply for a job as a 26-year-old.
She has to start over, but she can’t figure out any other way to work in the industry she loves. The question is, how complicated can things get before it all comes crashing down, and how willing is Liza to go through what it takes to keep up the charade.
It isn’t as simple as putting up with an annoying boss, and whatever general irritants may come from having to start at the bottom of the ladder again. No, she also has to maneuver the ranks of a very different world, which includes befriending Junior Editor, Kelsey (Hilary Duff) who opens Liza’s eyes to just how un-20 she really is.
Of course, Liza has people in her corner as well, chiefly Maggie (Debi Mazar), her best-friend, who happens to be a lesbian. Maggie is a bit more “in the know” when it comes to the “younger” world. In the scheme of the show’s effort, that translates into her probably not having to use Google to figure out how to use Twitter. Plus, there’s that guy who doesn’t think Liza is 40, which is why he hit on her. He’ll probably wind up being especially helpful to her as the journey unfolds.
The show, which is executive-produced and directed by Sex and the City‘s Darren Star, is more low-key than a lot of recent comedies, which perhaps makes TV Land a choice that makes sense. Though it isn’t exactly slow, it isn’t as concerned with its line-to-minute ratio as most comedic efforts of at least the last decade, and it uses the fact to its advantage.
The idea is to both rail against and rally for some sense of youth, or at least, youthfulness, and pulling back from the “short attention span” theory of script-writing in order to showcase the world that necessitated the theory is a good move. It’s one that is perhaps the best indication that the show is going to have the subtle play in mind that it will need to live on beyond the initial pull of its shtick. It has to open a certain way, and needs to lay out the establishment, but if it wants to deliver something that lasts, and lives up to its potential, it has to pull the focus away from gimmick-zingers, and dive into Liza.
Oddly, the best clue to the show is a line Liza gives in the pilot, when she’s trying to land her job as a 26-year-old. When her would-be boss rolls her eyes, and asks why she’s special, Liza says, “I’m a grown-up. I don’t think I’m special.” While you might hope for a show that thinks it is special, this show is a grown-up. It isn’t after ticking off the number of giggles per half-hour, it just hopes to entertain you for a while, and wants you to have a good time. You’ll laugh, because it is funny, but if this ends up being your favorite show, it wants to get there because you think it has something to say.
The show begins and ends with Sutton Foster, who completely nails this role, which makes the audience’s decision easy. If you like her in the first few minutes, you’re going to love this show. It’s cute and charming, but with a certain edge that’s on the verge of offering up the very jaded Liza that might have been.
The rating is based on the pilot (which on its own is about a 7.5) and the prediction that Darren Star and Foster know what they’re doing.
As of this writing, the pilot is available on TV Land’s show page here.
Get More: Younger Official TV Show Website