Wednesday, January 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Kelsey & Liza Struggle as They Launch Their New Millennial Imprint in 'Like a Boss'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 2.03 "Like a Boss"

Liza and Kelsey prepare for the launch of their new imprint amidst a wave of criticism.

A lot of the tension and conflict of this season of Younger so far has come from Liza and Josh breaking up and getting back together. It has really been exhausting. Josh learned the truth about Liza's real age. That was bound to add complications into their relationship. He was built up as a character who valued honesty. She spent an entire season lying to him. It's not bad for him to want to be completely honest in life. That's his perspective of this world and he has every reason to hold onto that virtue. It would just be more meaningful if every single issue didn't just devolve into a story about whether or not the two of them are actually together. That happened multiple times in last week's hourlong premiere. And it happens again in "Like a Boss." It affords the show a chance to talk about "ghosting." But that really doesn't create a meaningful or interesting conversation.

However, the divide that happens between Liza and Josh in this episode actually has some merit to it. If Liza couldn't be honest about herself publicly, then Josh at least wanted her to tell Kelsey the truth. She has the right to know the truth just like Josh did. Liza and Kelsey have formed a very strong friendship. When Kelsey gets this huge promotion for her own imprint targeting millennials, she wants to share it with Liza. She is the first person she runs to with this news. She wants Liza to be a part of it with her. That news forces Liza to retreat from her plans to tell Kelsey the truth. That was bound to lead to complications with Josh. This episode makes that known immediately. Liza is still living this lie with Kelsey and she is still forcing Josh to be a part of it as well. Of course, it's a weird conflict because they spend the majority of the episode separated to do their own soul searching.

Liza and Josh are able to come back together in the end though. It comes after Liza continues to have awkward and flirty encounters with both Lauren's dad and Charles. With Lauren's dad, it's very creepy. Liza doesn't always understand Lauren but she respects that friendship. Plus, her dad is very forceful and aggressive with his come-ons. They really make Liza want to flee as fast as possible - which fortunately she is able to do. With Charles though, it's a much more serious romantic spark. The two actually have solid chemistry. Plus, he's a more age appropriate love interest. Of course, that's only known to Liza. Charles thinks he is flirty with his 20-something employee who seems more genuine and wise than her years would suggest. It's still unclear what the show is trying to do with the connection between Liza and Charles. It's bound to create conflict between Liza and Diana eventually considering how much Diana pines for Charles. But right now, the show is just enjoying the simple chemistry between the two.

Liza is still with Josh. He shows up at the party with a bit more clarity on Liza's situation. All he needed was a blunt talk with Maggie - who is secretly throwing a sex party in the apartment. Again, it's not great that the show is trying to corrupt Josh's desire to always be honest. But it still allows Liza and Josh to be a couple. They are still working through their issues. But now, they are being more genuine about it. Hopefully, that means they will be more stable in the next few episodes. So, Josh is going to keep Liza's secret from the rest of her friends. He respects and loves her enough to do that. It will be difficult but he's not actively thrown into a situation where he can't handle himself - at least in this episode. The pressure may be too much for him to take eventually this season. But right now, he's more willing than before to accept Liza for the choices and decisions she has made with her life lately.

But the bigger focus of this episode comes from the launch of Millennial Imprint and how Kelsey freaks out over all of these new responsibilities. She loves this promotion at first because she is a 26-year-old boss. She has put in the work. And now, that is being recognized and rewarded. She has earned this position. At first, it doesn't change a whole lot for her. She is able to go out with Liza and Lauren and obsess over the details of their big launch party. But the weight of this promotion slowly starts to add up as well. It all starts once she decides to read the comment section for her first big press release. The show does do some easy jokes about how horrible anonymous commentators online can be. But it still provides a lot of strong emotional impact as Kelsey becomes overwhelmed with emotions once the launch party happens.

The pressures of this job and the public perception of her eventually cripple Kelsey. She is laying on the floor so unsure of herself and whether or not she can actually go this job. The tipping point comes when the dress designed exclusively for her to wear to this launch party turns out to be horrible. The people around her even comment on how bad it is. No matter where Kelsey looks, all she sees is negativity. Lauren and Thad aren't that much help at all. Kelsey needs the maternal instincts of Liza. She's the one person who can help her through these complicated emotions. Kelsey doesn't feel like she deserves this. She's still just a 20-something living with her best friend's parents. She is still immature in a lot of ways. She's earned this job but she's no longer certain that she deserves it. Liza is able to comfort her. She helps her through this panic attack and makes sure that she is able to accept this job and how rewarding it actually is. It's a truly uplifting experience that is entirely about Liza and Kelsey's friendship. Liza is there for Kelsey in a way that no one else can. Liza is there to help Kelsey as she delivers her big speech to the party. It's because of Liza that this party is a successful launch for the imprint. It also strengthens Liza and Kelsey's friendship in a really rewarding. It's still troubling and problematic that Kelsey doesn't know the truth about Liza. But their friendship has gotten so deep and strong that in the end it may not even matter all that much once Kelsey finally does learn the truth.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Like a Boss" was written by Dottie Dartland Zicklin & Eric Zicklin and directed by Peter Lauer.
  • Diana forcing Liza to wear a Fitbit just to beat a friend of hers was an amusing story largely because it meant Liza had to be walking no matter where she was. It never distracted from the actual stories either.
  • Lauren's mom and dad were introduced last season to talk about the fact that millennials enjoy living with their parents while they are in their twenties. That's still the point. But it also felt like the show was going for the same jokes as before with those two characters. The dad awkwardly flirts with the girls while the mom tries to be the best friend who ultimately just doesn't understand things.
  • However, that scene with Liza, Kelsey, Lauren and Lauren's mom around the kitchen island was great. It had a meaningful and genuine discussion about the successes of women and how men can perceive them.
  • The debate on comment sections shouldn't be limited to it being a place where people say horrible things. That's what many of them are unfortunately. However, there are some places where the conversation in the comments can be really rewarding as well. 
  • Maggie worries about money a little bit here. Her art isn't selling as much as it used to which forces her to throw this sex party - but not telling Liza about it. It's good that the show is talking about money. That apartment doesn't look like it's cheap either.