“Younger” follows Liza Miller, a 40-year old woman trying to reenter the workforce after quitting her publishing job years earlier to raise her daughter. Now that she’s ready to work again, she realizes that most employers take a woman’s age and make mountains out of a pretty unimportant molehill. Liza’s solution: Adopt a 26-year-old persona to help her land a job and get ahead in today’s millennial-driven workplace. What results is a critical comment on the tricky intersection of age and gender in the modern world.
Indiewire sat down with Sutton Foster, who plays Liza, and Hilary Duff, who plays Liza’s coworker and friend Kelsey, to discuss the show’s feminist core and what its second season has in store.
On “Younger’s” stellar female cast:
With the vast majority of its cast made up of women of all different ages, “Younger” has one of the most fleshed-out female ensembles currently on TV. Foster commented that, “It’s really great! It’s one of the things that I like best about the show as well. In the first season, Hilary’s character says the line, ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” and I think that’s really the theme of the show. It’s about positive female relationships. So often, we see that kind of catty relationship where you throw women under the bus to get ahead. Me, Hilary, Molly, Miriam, all of us, we’re so different but there’s so much support and it’s really such a positive, wonderful place to come to work.”
Duff added, “I think we all learn from each other, which is great. We’re super-different but everyone loves being here and working together. It helps that everything we’re reading is so great.”
On “Younger’s” laundry list of legendary guest stars
With each new episode, “Younger” adds another seasoned comedienne to its long list of guest stars. Jane Krakowski, Ana Gasteyer, Martha Plimpton, Kathy Najimy and more have all made appearances, with more to come in Season 2.
“It’s so well cast,” Duff commented. “We’re getting amazing actresses with such long careers and so many different kinds of characters. Watching the show, you can just think, ‘Wow! There’s Camryn Manheim! There’s Jane Krakowski!’ It’s great for me to work with actresses I’ve always been a big fan of.”
Foster agreed, saying, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I’m working with so many women I admire – I mean, we have Camryn Manheim this season. These are people I so admire, then I get to know them as a person and my brain just starts to explode. It takes a lot more energy to be negative and horrible than it does to be kind and have an ease about work, but I think that we’ve created a really positive environment and people are happy to come into it and join us.”
On bringing their past work into “Younger”
Renowned and awarded for her decades-long career on Broadway, Foster discussed what she takes from the stage and brings to “Younger.” “I started working professionally when I was 17, so I worked in the theater for 20 years solid,” said Foster. “I think I’m at a place in my career where I’m more interested in the project and the people I get to work with than just being on stage. I’m very grateful for my theatrical experience, though. I developed a very strong work ethic and a strong stamina. I’m very happy this is happening now, when I’m older, because I can appreciate it. There’s nothing more satisfying than the live experience, but this has been rewarding in new ways, with characters that keep changing and growing. You get to grow with the character.”
Duff also brings a hefty list of past projects to “Younger,” and commented on her recent return to TV. “Kelsey is such a relatable character for me. People will say, ‘Why this show? Why did you come back for this show?’ I think Darren is a big part of this. He really writes for women and this was a safe space to show I’m grown up without playing a mother. [laughs] I’m still so young, but Kelsey is in this time of her life that I didn’t really get to experience. She’s fighting to be taken seriously and she’s in the trenches every day. She’s balls to the walls.”
On themes of aging
As Liza navigates her double life as a middle-aged millennial, “Younger” tackles some serious questions regarding age and intergenerational relationships. Foster commented, “I’m experiencing it in my job and my life. I’ve never really thought about age as a detriment, I’ve always thought of it as a reality. Even though I’m playing a character who’s fighting against that reality, in my life, I hope to be able to navigate my 40s gracefully. Sutton doesn’t want to keep playing the roles she played when she was 20! More than ever, I feel the new generation, which I hadn’t felt before. Here’s a whole new crop of people! I used to know everyone in the playbill and now I don’t know any of these people. That’s exactly how it should be, but it’s the reality of where I’m at.”
On the response from fans
Foster and Duff both pointed out the positive feedback they’ve received from fans regarding “Younger’s” positive view of women and age. “It’s been really fascinating because last season, the show just kept growing,” Foster said. “I was taking a spin class, and someone came up to me and said, ‘I love your show, it’s the only show I watch with my daughter. I’m 40 and my daughter is 16 and we just love it.’ And that’s so cool.”
Duff added, “I hear from a lot of people who aren’t even women. It has something for everyone. It surprises people because the premise sounds sort of kitschy, but it’s so much more daring than you would expect.”
“Younger” airs Wednesdays at 10pm on TV Land.