Oh, to be younger again.
  • TV Land
  • Oh, to be younger again.

Pop culture has a terrible habit of pitting older women against younger women (and vice versa, but to a much lesser extent). I know this because I’ve watched a lot of Lifetime movies, and as much as they’ve developed a reputation for engendering mistrust of men, a younger woman is the source of a mature woman’s misery just about as often.

At 32 I’m probably a little too young to harbor any serious suspicion of my adult juniors, but that doesn’t mean their youth makes me any less envious that they have just a little bit more life ahead of them than I do to spend accomplishing lots of things I never would have accomplished anyway.

TV Land’s Younger—created by Sex and the City creator Darren Star—is refreshingly egalitarian in that it showcases the various things that are shitty about being a slightly older woman and the things that are shitty about being a younger one, all through a character who gets to experience both.

Protagonist Liza (Sutton Foster), a 40-year-old divorcee, returns to the publishing world after raising her college-age daughter only to be informed by a couple of condescending and cartoonishly ditsy millennials that the long hiatus has made her an undesirable candidate even for the crappy jobs. She’s willing to start at the bottom but can’t because she’s “too experienced.” (It’s a variation of the conundrum recent college graduates face: they can’t get jobs without experience, but they can’t get experience if no one will give them jobs.) After being mistaken for a twentysomething by a hot tattoo artist in a bar, Liza does the obvious thing and starts living as a 26-year-old. If Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari could pass for women on Bosom Buddies, who the hell’s to say Sutton Foster couldn’t pass for 26?

Assuming you’ve emerged from your midtwenties, you’ll recall that being 26 has its pros and cons. Liza gets to have pleasurable sex with a young man who has abs and stuff (the aforementioned hot tattoo artist), but she also has to be treated like a moron by a ball-busting lady boss who’s about her own (actual) age and clearly resents younger women. And there are the pitfalls and pratfalls associated with attempting to pass for a member of a wacky, tech-savvy, hipstery younger generation. Oh, and living a lie. That’ll catch up with Liza, but not too soon—the show was just renewed for a second season.

Younger is clever, well acted (Hilary Duff is kind of great), and good for a little vicarious fantasy fulfillment. But the best thing is that it gives us the opportunity to once again spend time in Darren Star’s New York, a place where every big-city affectation and cliche is exaggerated in the most delightful way. (And believe me, I’m having a great time keeping track of YoungerSATC thematic overlap, like when Liza has the contents of her home appraised and finds out they’re basically worthless—it’s just like when Carrie couldn’t get the bank loan to buy her apartment from Aidan because she only owned shoes and was basically a worthless human being!)

I hope women of all ages can agree the world’s been a lot less fun without it.

Younger, Tuesdays at 9 PM on TV Land.