‘Younger’ Is Getting Old. Could Season Four’s Finale Reverse Its Aging Process?

Man cannot live solely on daytime soaps and YouTube clips of classic ’70s sitcoms like Sanford and Son and Three’s Company. This summer, Younger has given me a primetime lifeline post-Veep as I await the autumn and winter returns of Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, and Nashville, and before I commence bingeing on the belatedly returned Episodes.

Now that Younger’s fourth-season finale is upon us, airing September 13, I’d love to say how much I’ve enjoyed this latest round of the Lifetime original series, but unlike its heroine Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), I cannot tell a lie.

Although the latest season has had its moments (as Charles himself pointed out, he’d earned Josh’s fist), for the most part, it’s been like watching a washing machine’s spin cycle for 11 weeks. Liza has been in a holding pattern since the end of season three. She still doesn’t have Josh. She still doesn’t have Charles. One one-night-stand with a married man aside, she still doesn’t have any fun.

We now interrupt this review for a brief message to Liza…

Liza Liza Liza. I like you. I get you. As a fellow fortysomething in the publishing industry, I’ve been there. I know how age can work against you in the social media age where youth, likes, and followers are everything.
But you really need to get out more. Honor the title of the show and act younger. Stop pining for Josh and Charles. Frankly, I’m not thoroughly convinced either of them are actually for you… at least not yet. I think there might be a Mr. Right Now out there (maybe he can be played by the actor Josh Charles — get it?). It’s OK to have a few hot flings while you’re waiting for your endgame to begin.
Playing matchmaker for your ex and your crush is a hideous look. So is dating a guy who has the hots for you just because he’s there. I’m glad you ended that quickly, but where do you go from here? Eventually, I hope, back to Josh. But not too fast, because frankly, we both need a break from Josh.

I can’t believe I just wrote that. Nico Tortorella remains, for me, one of the sexiest guys on TV. (If I were 20 years younger… Who am I kidding? I already date guys younger than him!). I’ve been solidly #TeamJosh from the beginning. I see him as the Mr. Big of Younger, the one Carrie… I mean, Liza… belongs with, but we got lengthy breaks from Big during the Sex and the City run.

Liza, Josh, and the Irish rose

Josh’s love life is starting to feel too rinse and repeat. He’s had four girlfriends in as many seasons. We’ve rarely gotten to see him single. Yes, that’s very twentysomething of him, but it diminishes whatever we’re supposed to believe he had with Liza — and I, for one, think it was the real deal. His relationship with the Irish rose has blossomed mostly offscreen (thank God), and I honestly don’t know why he’s so taken with her. She has that cute Irish accent (if you’re swayed by that sort of thing), but we haven’t really been shown any other qualities that scream “She’s the one!”

She’s like Emily on Friends. Remember her? She was the one whose name Ross didn’t say during their wedding. Josh and the Irish rose are as interesting as Ross and Emily were, meaning, not so interesting. So all of this Immigration angst just rings false.

I would have preferred it if Josh had sat this season out, and when we see him again next season, he would be married to the Irish rose for green-card purposes, with his connection to Liza remaining as powerful as ever. There’s built-in drama there! (Note to the Irish rose: If your boyfriend feels he has to publicly punch out the guy who got between him and his almost-fiancee, he’s clearly not over her.)

Which brings us to the other man in Liza’s life. I love me some Peter Hermann, but I have a hard time understanding why his Younger character Charles is so special, aside from his good looks and professional position. Unlike Josh, who built his tattoo empire from scratch, Charles had his publishing empire handed to him, so we can’t even call him a self-made man.

Liza and Charles, trying to make books sexy

Also, unlike Josh, who pretty much wears his emotions on his tattoo sleeve (one of my favorite traits in twentysomething guys is how they’re more inclined to be fearless in romance than guys nearly twice their age), Charles has all the tentativeness befitting his age. He’s been burned by love, and he’s scared. Show me a man over thirty-five who isn’t. Yawn. His cringiest scene by far was the one where he threw a tantrum because he thought Liza was interested in a middle-aged man who wasn’t him.

I see Charles as the Aidan in this equation (to make another SATC comparison). Despite the age gap between Liza and Josh, they’re more equals than Liza and the guy who signs her paychecks. Charles may be better on paper, but he’s in love with his perception of Liza, not the real deal, whom he still hasn’t actually met. I don’t believe he would be as accepting of the truth as Josh eventually was. The grand irony is that age matters a lot more to Charles than it does to Josh, but finding out that he and Liza are in the same decade would close one gap while probably creating a more insurmountable one.

The fact that his ex-wife’s re-entry into the picture changes anything is another red flag. If the genders were reversed and, say, the husband of a female friend re-emerged years after leaving his family, would Liza be as quick to play Cupid? The woman left her husband and children. Why is everyone treating her like Shakespeare’s sister who was just dying to be heard — and read? She’s a deadbeat mom.

A far more interesting spoiler in the Liza and Charles romance would be the newly single Diana Trout. Now that she’s detached herself from that live-in cad, she could embark on a rebound fling with Charles, who’s drunk and depressed about Liza when they hook-up. He and Diana become more than a one-nighter, but he can’t get over Liza. This would create new conflict for our heroine and her immediate boss.

Whom does Kelsey have to sleep with to get a viable love interest?

Speaking of the workplace, can we please get Kelsey away from these business romances where she always ends up getting the short end of the dick — er, stick? Hilary Duff is too fabulous and Kelsey is too smart to keep falling for such foolishness. I’m glad they didn’t go the Kelsey + Josh route (that he’d even consider it just reinforces my point that he rebounds too quickly and too often), but I’d like to see her in a sexy, funny romance that, for once, didn’t involve subterfuge on the guy’s part.

Maybe Lauren could hook her up with one of her boyfriend’s doctor buddies. Speaking of Molly Bernard, she provides such excellent comic relief. I wish we could see some of her scenes rather than just hear her tell Kelsey about them.

Debi Mazar is equally woefully underused. Anyone who remembers the ’90s knows how fabulous she can be. Her bestie character Maggie makes a great talk-to (love how she mixes bonafide wisdom and irreverent insouciance), but she deserves a romance that lasts longer than an episode or two.

Maybe when Charles breaks Diana’s heart, Maggie could be there to put it back together, which would make Liza’s relationship with Diana even messier. And isn’t messy what being younger is all about?

This season it seems like Liza has been spending most of her time cleaning up everyone else’s messes, but life, love, and youth are so much more interesting when you’re making your own instead.