Wednesday, September 13, 2017

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Liza, Maggie and Josh Travel to Ireland for a Crazy Wedding in 'Irish Goodbye'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 4.12 "Irish Goodbye"

Liza and Maggie meet Josh in Ireland. Kelsey is forced to play nice with a new colleague. Charles' personal life is thrown into the spotlight.

"Irish Goodbye" is such an anti-climatic ending to this particular season of Younger. It plays as if the creative team got the approval and money from TV Land to film an episode in Ireland even though it didn't have the particular story to justify such a venture. The story that they then came up with had absolutely nothing to do with the season that preceded it at all. So, it feels less like a finale than an expensive venture that doesn't even put the beautiful locale on display all that much. Seriously though, it just makes no sense for the show to center the finale around Josh getting married to the girlfriend he has had for two seconds. This season really hasn't been about the relationship between Liza and Josh at all. In fact, it's been the opposite of that. This has been the year of Liza and Charles. The season was structured so that a big moment was bound to happen between them in the season finale. But instead, Liza flies halfway around the world and Charles is literally the last person to find out about that. There's essentially nothing to their story whatsoever in this finale which just feels weird. Yes, it may not be a bad thing that the show isn't pursuing an actual relationship between those characters yet for reasons that were abundantly clear in last week's episode. But the actual story of "Irish Goodbye" makes no sense at all. It essentially makes this a season that started off strong producing one of its best episodes ever only to lose all of that momentum and end in a very lackluster way.

Seriously though, the show couldn't figure out a better story for its Irish adventure? First of all, Josh traveling to Ireland to be with his girlfriend, Claire, after she needed to return home wasn't played as this grand romantic gesture in last week's episode. It felt consistent with that episode's overall theme of destructive and compromising relationships. Claire has always seemed like a too perfect girlfriend for Josh. She was literally designed to appeal to everything he loves in this world. Their dynamic has been sweet and simple. But she hasn't been an engaging character. She rationally understood that her leaving the country meant the end of her relationship with Josh. Him leaving everything behind to go be with her felt self-destructive. Liza and her friends traveling to Ireland in order to knock some sense into Josh about the life he has in New York would have made sense. They all obviously care about him and recognize just how crazy this plan seems. But this episodes picks things up in a very weird way. Josh making this trip is actually suppose to be a rewarding and romantic moment. He's pursuing love and doing whatever it takes to be with Claire. That just doesn't feel earned because this relationship is still so fresh and new. There's no reason for why Josh should be this interested in trying to make things work with her. Again, it's a relationship that happened briefly so that the show could fly to Ireland for a week.

Plus, most of the material doesn't even seem like it was shot in Ireland. The show probably could get away with the shot of Maggie sinking into the ground as the only sequence that proved it actually traveled to the country. Everything else just has the feeling that it was shot in front of a green screen or on sound stages in New York. It doesn't feel like an authentic experience. It just feels artificial. That translates in the actual story as well. Josh and Claire want Liza in Ireland for their wedding because she introduced them. That's just completely ridiculous. It buys into the idea that this season has put in the work to restore Liza and Josh's friendship. It hasn't. They've been more friendly to each other. But things are still tense and awkward because of the fallout from the third season. Liza did this nice thing for Josh in introducing him to Claire. They are grateful. But are they grateful enough to invite Josh's almost fiancé to their wedding? That's highly unlikely - especially since it takes place in Ireland. Of course, that appears to be the actual point of the story. They invite Liza because they believe she's a good liar and they'll need one of those in order to make this seem like a real marriage and not one for a green card. They are presumptuous that Liza will do this for them because she asked Josh to lie so many times. And yet, that's betraying one of the fundamentals of Josh's character. He hates lying. He doesn't like people with an agenda. And now, he is seemingly betraying all of that because he has fallen in love with a girl he only barely knows. That just rings so hollow and forced.

However, it's not completely surprising at all that the story eventually takes the twist back to Liza and Josh as a potential couple. Of course, I'm much more open to the two of them being the central couple of the show because of how much hopeless teasing has been involved in the Charles side of the love triangle. But Liza and Josh haven't had many interactions this season. The ones they did have were important. It opened the door to friendship once more. But it wasn't enough to suggest a full-on romantic reunion between the two of them. It instead plays as a momentary lapse in judgment on Josh's part because he gets drunk the night before his wedding. That just stirs up emotional feelings in Liza regarding her true feelings for Josh. The audience is suppose to relate to that and understand why she believes the wedding will be called off. But it's so obvious that that's not what's going to happen at all. Josh loves Liza but knows he can't be with her because she isn't the stable or healthy partner he needs. Claire probably won't be that either. Again, it's hard to say because she hasn't been around for long or have that interesting of a personality. And yet, it also just seems like the show is needlessly making Josh seem cruel for wanting to put some distance between himself and Liza again. He's absolutely right to feel that way. But it just feels like a bunch of plot complications instead of natural progress of characters and their relationships. And so, the wedding goes as planned. Liza commits to the lie. But she's absolutely devastated to see it happen. Again, the audience is suppose to feel for her in this moment as she's once again all alone only being open and honest with Maggie. But it represents a pattern the show is stuck in. Liza keeps expecting things to change even though she keeps making the same decisions. That's insanity and the show is really starting to wear out its audience's trust because of it.

Moreover, the show doesn't even commit fully to its trip to Ireland. If it has the money and opportunity to shoot aboard, it should spend as much time there as possible because it's different from the normal stories it tells. But instead, it only spends half the time in Ireland and the other half in New York with the other people at Empirical working on the marketing campaign for Pauline's book. It too feels like a half-baked story that the season really shouldn't be ending on. It's clear the show wants Zane at Empirical in order to be a new complication for Kelsey to deal with in all aspects of her life. There's nothing wrong with that dynamic either. But this just doesn't feel like a story that should be happening in the finale. All it does is create an unhealthy competition in the workplace. That already spiraled out of control once this season. If it's popping up again, it better have even more severe consequences this time around. But it still feels like a story in setup mode instead of one paying off a season of buildup. It's Kelsey and Zane getting on each other's nerves and creating problems for Empirical. Those problems are forcing Charles and Pauline to talk about their marriage on camera when they haven't really discussed it in private. Again, it feels like this moment should be having an impact on Liza. But she's half a world away seeing the replay of the news segment. She doesn't know the full story but is reacting to it anyway and clinging onto the possible relationship with Josh. Meanwhile, the season ends with Liza's phone lighting up with a call from Charles. And yet, that's an empty gesture that doesn't mean anything. It won't change anything heading into the new season. So, this is ultimately just a tame ending. It's incredibly lame too. It doesn't push the story into any exciting or new territory. It's just more of the same. The plot contrivances are just really starting to bog the narrative down.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Irish Goodbye" was written by Darren Star, Don Roos & Joe Murphy and directed by Todd Biermann.
  • Maggie only really travels to Ireland for moral support. Plus, the show needed another character in that setting. She doesn't really add much to the story. She just finds a mutual attraction and acts on it. But the show has told that story so many times previously. It's largely just an excuse to show a revealing painting of a landscape that actually looks like a vagina.
  • Plus, the show just completely forgot that it promised a meeting between Maggie and Diana this season. An earlier episode teased that that meeting was bound to take place at some point this year. Those characters would finally interact. And yet, it just never happened. It was just another empty tease to get the audience's hopes up.
  • Claire essentially threatening Liza to lie for her because she knows the truth about her age was some interesting shading to the character that made her seem less perfect. But it also felt like too little too late to change one's feelings about her. But hey, it looks like she'll be sticking around for the immediate future to cause even more problems for everyone. Liza still ultimately told that lie.
  • It's understandable why Claire wants to leave this life in Ireland behind completely. Her family is here. But her friends really aren't that great. The guys offer the stereotypical line of threatening to kill Josh if he hurts her. And then, the woman who is suppose to be Claire's best friend instead gets up and tries to reveal that it's a sham marriage to get a green card. That doesn't seem like a cool or genuine friend at all.
  • Diana broke up with Richard last week and it was such an empowering moment that showed true growth within her. But now, she's right back to blatantly flirting with Charles. It's very uncomfortable and feels like a step back. Of course, she's also flirting with Zane who is playing into it in order to form a good working dynamic with her.
  • This season was a huge success for TV Land in the ratings. Younger has proven to be the face of the network's rebrand over the past few years. It's a strong hit for them. This season proved that it works best as a fun, summer show. Of course, it still seems likely that they'll rush it back to the air as soon as possible. I'm guessing Spring 2018 for Season 5 if the past pattern is any good indication.