Wednesday, November 30, 2016

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Kelsey and Colin's Relationship is Tested by a Bidding War for His Novel in 'Summer Friday'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 3.09 "Summer Friday"

After Liza and Kelsey strike a deal for Colin's novel, an unexpected publicity hype leads to a bidding war. Emboldened by her therapist, Diana introduces herself to Richard, the therapist who works next door.

"Summer Friday" is a scattered episode of Younger. At times, it feels like product placement for Entertainment Weekly and nothing more. All of that integration is very weird and awkwardly handled - especially for the main characters. But more than that, the story itself just feels too simple and not something the characters would actually do. It's shocking that series creator Darren Star is the one who wrote this episode. That's baffling. The person who created the show should know what the characters would and wouldn't do. He should know just how much they've grown by now. But instead, it's once again an episode where Star is amused by sexual innuendo and decides not to dig any deeper into any of the situations. It's a simple episode with no stakes. It's predictable and boring which makes for a less than engaging episode.

Colin's novel is proving to be a very important plot point on the show this season. It has had so much focus as of late. Colin is the first guy Kelsey has been really interested in since Thad's death. That tragedy is brought up yet again in "Summer Friday" but it no longer seems to define anything for Kelsey. That's good. She is moving on and ready to fall in love again. She loves Colin's novel. She wants to make a deal for Millennial to publish it. And yet, she's dating Colin. She doesn't want anything to be perceived as a conflict of interest. So, Liza has to read it as well. Both of them love the novel. And yet, both of them point out a desperate need for an editor. The thing is massively overwritten. That's a criticism that they share to each other. However, neither of them actually bring it up to Colin. Instead, the story is much more interested in a bidding war that erupts over the book because of a foolish thing that Kelsey does.

Kelsey is very smart when it comes to getting Colin an agent. He thinks he can just have Millennial publish his book and not have to worry about the legality of it all. He doesn't think Kelsey would screw him over. He trusts that she'd give him a fair offer. But Kelsey knows better. She doesn't let her personal feelings corrupt this huge opportunity for him. She doesn't want that for him. She wants to do this the right way. She wants to get serious with him and doesn't want their professional relationship to ruin their personal one. All of this is very smart and wise of her. She reaches out to Redmond to represent Colin - largely because he's the only agent character the show has introduced over the years. He's an amusing recurring character best utilized in small doses. He's over-the-top and colorful. But that really works because he's also good at his job. He responds positively to the book as well. He knows exactly what he needs to do to help his client. He doesn't just take Kelsey at her word because of the arrangement that has already been made. When he sees an opportunity to get Colin even more money, Redmond takes it. That proves he's a good agent but it comes at the expense of Kelsey.

Kelsey is very foolish when it comes to promoting Millennial to Entertainment Weekly. It's a particularly bad twist for the show just to create some tension in the main plot. It's too forced. But more importantly, it doesn't feel like a mistake that Kelsey would make. Yes, she's the youngest person running an imprint. That doesn't mean she has to be naive whenever it comes to a new situation. She is so eager to please the editor at Entertainment Weekly that she props up Colin's novel even though Millennial doesn't actually have a deal with it yet. She's getting ahead of herself and promising greatness when it's not true at all. Liza knows how good the book is. But it's not the kind of novel that Kelsey is selling in this interview. Kelsey is the face of Millennial. She has to appear knowledgeable and smart about this business. Here, she looks dumb. That's not an adjective that should be used to describe Kelsey right now. She's a smart and capable young woman. She has already accomplished so much. It's great that she still celebrates with Colin even though her mistake costs her the novel. But that can only redeem so much in this story.

Liza's story is similarly rooted in something grounded and genuine. Her relationship with Josh has been stable for the majority of the season. They have really tried to just live in the moment and not worry about what might happen in the future between them. But now, Josh is somewhat depressed because he realizes he'll never be Liza's first with anything in life. He has known about her past and it has never been a problem before. And now, it only dawns on him when she doesn't want to do anal sex. Again, it's the show being very frank with sex. That's a part of the show. It's very open about it. But it's just too amused by the joke itself and the bluntness of it. It's not any more clever than that. Plus, that final scene is just awful. It plays things slowly and seductively between Liza and Josh. She claims she'll need to do something for him that she doesn't want to do. The audience is suppose to believe they'll have anal sex. The dialogue is very suggestive. And then, it's revealed she's just getting her first tattoo. That's a major milestone for her and this relationship. But here, it's played as a joke instead of something that should be sincere.

Meanwhile, Diana is off in her own little world talking her issues out with her therapist. She is depressed. But this time it's because it's summer in the city and everyone of note has left to vacation elsewhere. She's still stuck at work and upset about her inability to find love. Her therapist is right to call her out for her own unhappiness. But here, it's again played for a joke when it should get at a deeper issue. So much of her characterization on the show has been about her struggles with men. It's always reliable for a good joke when an episode needs it. She has gotten sex just like all the other female characters. But for her, it's played more comedically because no man is good enough for her while the man she does want she can't have. It's formulaic and gotten way too repetitive. Her new romance here may ultimately mean something. Or it could just be the thing that gets her to stop seeing a therapist which would lead to even more stress in her life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Summer Friday" was written by Darren Star and directed by Peter Lauer.
  • Everyone's bafflement of a vending machine that sells swimwear was only matched by the embarrassment both Liza and Colin felt walking around in such skimpy clothing. Kelsey, Redmond and Josh enjoyed it at least.
  • How in the world does Becky still have a job at Empirical? Seriously, whenever she shows up it's just for a joke about how clueless she is. She gets on Diana's nerves. And yet, she is still employed there. Doesn't Diana have the ability to fire her?
  • Diana only agrees to let her new man stay in her apartment for a couple of days because he reads into her dreams a refusal to let go of her past. Talking about dreams is a weird thing to do in the morning - especially to a therapist who wants to analyze them. So, this relationship seems destined to end just as horribly as all the previous ones.
  • Maggie shows up dressed as a man. Liza makes a joke. Maggie makes one later when the costume leads to a misunderstanding. And that's about it. 
  • At least Liza isn't just getting some random tattoo. Josh put a lot of thought into what he wanted to give her. An hourglass to symbolize the timeless nature of their relationship is pretty sweet.