On the rom-com series, 40-something Liza Miller (Sutton Foster) goes to extreme measures — masquerading as a millennial in order to land an assistant’s position at a prestigious publishing firm after her divorce — to bypass the rampant ageism she finds in the job market.
Recently, California passed an anti-ageism law that requires Hollywood industry sites like IMDb.com to remove an actor’s age upon request. In an interview with IndieWire, executive producer Darren Star (“Sex and the City,” “Melrose Place”) weighed in on the new law, which would’ve been helpful to someone looking for a second chance like Liza.
“When I see actors you don’t ask them about their age, you’re looking at them for a character,” he said. “I can understand the idea that you don’t want to be judged on your age or have anybody have preconceived notions when you’re reading for a role or being seen for a role.”
In fact, if Star had heeded his own preconceived notions, he may have missed out on casting Foster, who just happens to be the same age as her character. “I loved her,” he said of the Tony-winning actress. “I’ve seen almost everything she’s done on stage and I really wanted to work with her. I thought, ‘Oh she would be so great in this role, but I just feel like I didn’t want to cheat in terms of casting an actor that was years younger than the character.’ I was so surprised when I realized she was the right age. I couldn’t believe it. She was already [passing as younger]. She had me fooled.”
Read on to find out what Star revealed about what’s coming to Season 3 of “Younger”:
Another Year Wiser?
Art continues to imitate life on “Younger” this season when Liza turns another year older in her TV timeline. “I think there’s a point where it’s mentioned that she’s about to turn 41,” Star confirmed. “The character’s real birthday. Not only are we celebrating the birthday on the show, but she’s getting up there. She can’t be 40 forever.”
Liza can’t continue the charade forever either, although she’s kept her secret much longer than some superheroes have been able to hide their secret identities. Going into Season 3, only four people know about her dual lifestyle: her 26-year-old tattoo artist boyfriend Josh (Nico Tortorella), her artist roommate Maggie (Debi Mazar), blackmailer Cheryl Sussman (guest star Martha Plimpton) and therapist Dr. Jane Wray (guest star Camryn Manheim), who is featuring Liza’s unique situation as an anonymous case study in her book.
Liza has gone to great lengths, however, to conceal her secret from everyone at Empirical Press, including her pal and book editor Kelsey (Hilary Duff), head of marketing Diana (Miriam Shor) and head honcho Charles (Peter Hermann). While the deception was necessary at the beginning of the series, the closer Liza becomes with her co-workers, the more the lie weighs on her to confess the truth.
“We definitely talk about this a lot and think about it,” said Star. “Ultimately you know she’s doing this for a reason: she wants to have a job and she wants to work. When you betray people you love, though, it gets harder to tell the truth.”
Two Truths and a Liza
Lying to your boss about your age is bad enough, but after Charles kissed Liza in last season’s finale, she finds herself in a very complicated and lopsided love triangle. It’s not your typical midlife crisis or even “mid-love” crisis for that matter. “Both men are right for her for the wrong reasons and wrong for her for the right reasons,” Star said. “They’re two guys that are perfect for her under different circumstances.”
Charles is more age appropriate and shares Liza’s love of books, but believes she’s only 26… not to mention an assistant in his own company. Despite these obstacles, she’s curious to see if they have chemistry beyond that stolen kiss. But she’s already dating Josh, who is utterly devoted to her and her secret, but is significantly younger than she is.
“What’s interesting to explore is: What’s the relationship like between a 40-year-old and a 26-year-old?” Star mused. “At the end of the first season when she let him know how old she was, people thought, ‘Well that’s the end of the show.’ But I thought that was the beginning of the interesting part of the show because we could really explore the reality of that relationship, which we continue to do this season.”
Kelsey is an astute book editor, and even runs Empirical’s youthful imprint Millennial, but her taste in men was deplorable. Her longtime boyfriend Thad (Dan Amboyer) took her for granted and cheated on her regularly, which made his sudden death last season in a freak accident somewhat bittersweet.
Once she passes the mourning phase, Kelsey will start dating again. “She’s thinking more deeply about what an appropriate partner is,” said Star. “So much of that saying goodbye to Thad was giving Kelsey a chance to spread her wings and [for us] to write stories about a character in her 20s who’s successful in her career and then see what her personal life is like.”
Similarly, Liza’s boss Diana will have “experiences in love” this year while Kelsey’s avant garde publicist pal Lauren (Molly Bernard), who had been seeing Maggie, will have “some sort of surprises in store” for her.
TV Land Screengrab
By the Book
The quirky authors who will visit Empirical this season include a spoof of the Japanese writer of bestselling decluttering book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and a real-life celebrity. “We have a nice guest appearance by Erica Jong, the writer, playing herself,” Star said.
Meanwhile, Liza has a job to do since the publishing world won’t wait on her dramas. Dr. Wray’s wishes to promote her book could jeopardize Liza’s secret. Another familiar face, Michael Urie, returns as ambitious agent Redmond, hopefully with a better client than last time.
“Younger” returns for its third season Wednesday at 10pm on TV Land. Watch a trailer for Season 3 below: