“Younger” gets attention for its look into the New York social circles and its attention-grabbing fashions, and that’s as it should be. After all, this is a series by Darren Star, who also brought us the delights of “Sex and the City.”
Sutton Foster stars as Liza Miller, a 40-year-old woman who’s just emerged from a failed marriage and must re-enter the work force. The only problem is that no one will even glance at her resume since she became a full-time mother nearly two decades ago. But after she’s mistaken for a 26-year-old at a bar, she decides to pass for much younger and lands a job at publishing firm Empirical Press.
This job provides some of the best under-the-radar laughs throughout the series. Not only do the episode titles provide some plum opportunities for book puns such as “The Old Ma’am and the C,” but over the course of its now four seasons, the series has written in references to current bestsellers by either alluding to them directly or creating silly-clever parodies of the books themselves.
“With Younger” kicking off its fourth season on Wednesday, here’s a look back at some of the best book parodies on the show.
“Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin
The show’s tribute to the hit fantasy series set in Westeros is the poorly veiled author named Edward L.L. Moore (Richard Masur), who bears an uncanny likeness to Martin and whose “Crown of Kings” books have kept Empirical afloat. Giant cover mockups also helpfully inform us that other books in the series include “Things of Kings” and “Scorn of Kings.” While casting characters from his book for a big Times Square publicity stunt, Moore taps Liza to play his Princess Pam Pam.
“Sex and the City” by Candace Bushnell
Naturally, the series had to pay homage to Star’s “Sex and the City” roots and mentions the fake author Annabell Bancroft alongside Bushnell. It turns out that Bancroft (Jane Krakowski) has written such novels as “She-donism,” “Man-hattan,” and “Goldman Sex.”
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo
The book that created a sensation for throwing out unnecessary items and thanking them for their use was also referenced in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) decides to purge her house of objects that no longer brings her a “spark of joy” after the death of her husband. Here, an author named Kiko Kagami (Joy Osmanski) has a book called “Blissful Living” that’s “rooted in the idea that all objects have a spirit and we must work on lightening our load by setting free those objects which no longer serve us.” The power of the book? “She got Oprah to give up bread.” Naturally, this inspires Liza and her workmates to evaluate other things cluttering up their lives — like relationships past their prime.
“The Defining Decade” by Dr. Meg Jay
Camryn Manheim guest stars as Liza’s therapist Dr. Jane Wray who is helping her through living her life as one big fat lie and includes her anonymously in her self-help book for millennials called “The Deciding Decade.”
“H Is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald
When naturalist and falconer Macdonald lost her beloved falconer she found escape and salvation in nature, specifically with the goshawk Mabel. “Younger’s” Diane (Miriam Shor) helpfully explains the meaning of “P Is for Pigeon”: “It is not about pigeons. It is a metaphor based on Martha, the world’s last known living passenger pigeon.”
“The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches From an Ancient Landscape” by James Rebanks
The internationally bestselling autobiography by Rebanks about his life as a sheep farmer in Matterdale, Cumbria, England inspired Matthew Morrison’s humble sheep farmer character Sebastian, who captures Liza’s interest when she buys a woolen blanket from him at a market. After she finds and beautifully written insert inside, she goes to his farm to get her hands on his memoirs.
“The Story of O,” by Pauline Reage
The famed erotic French novel set the world on fire in 1954 with its themes of female submission, but it wasn’t until about 40 years later that the author revealed that Reage was only a nom de plume. Anne Desclos had originally written the book as a series of letters to her lover. On the shows, Liza realizes that the steamy new novel manuscript for “Me, Myself and O” by the mysterious Aubrey Alexis is written by none other than Edward L.L. Moore when he uses a phrase that is found in the manuscript: “Oh how my blood runs soft.”
“Younger” premieres its fourth season on Wednesday, June 29 at 10 p.m. on TVLand.