Tuesday, August 14, 2018

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Liza Feels Like a Hypocrite While Dealing with Caitlin in 'Girls on the Side'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 5.10 "Girls on the Side"

Liza is distressed when she meets Caitlin's middle-aged boyfriend. Diana refuses to back down from a challenge. Josh rebrands.

The central premise of the show has always forced Liza to live precariously. She never knew how long she would be able to continue this ruse. She certainly didn't know the impact it would have on her life and her relationships with her friends. It has brought so many people into her life. She is happy with the life that she has built. And yet, it still all comes from the foundation of this lie. The people at Empirical believe she is 27 years old. Over the course of the series, the story wasn't interested in blowing up this premise quickly. It wanted to live in this world that Liza has created for a long time. It made it so each individual that learned the truth would fuel the story with so much tension for a handful of episodes. They would all ultimately prove to be okay with it and even willing to help Liza continue selling the lie. Kelsey and Charles see the value in keeping it a secret because it could only hurt their respective businesses if word got out. They are essentially protecting themselves. But it's still a hassle for them to keep lying for Liza. Kelsey doesn't know what to say when Quinn asks her editors if Charles is single. That leads to this whole misunderstanding where it seems like Quinn is going after Charles at an event that Liza isn't attending. As such, she lives in ambiguity throughout this episode worrying about how real her life and her relationships really are. It has always been apparent that these dynamics could only go so deep as long as Liza was lying to them. The other person had to be aware of who Liza truly was and why she did what she did. Only that would allow them to truly go deep as friends or a couple. But now, she has seemingly moved past the hard part. She is able to just enjoy dating Charles now. They are finally able to be together. There is nothing holding them back. Charles just wants to keep everything quiet. He doesn't want to deal with the perception he's dating an assistant at his company even one who is also an editor and co-founder of an imprint. He doesn't want anything to jeopardize the financial future of his business.

But again, all of the lying does put a strain on these relationships as well. Liza just wants to be happy for Josh and celebrate the renovation he has done to Inkburg. Earlier this season, he had to invest in his future. At the time, he didn't know what that meant. He still doesn't to a large extent. He is still friends with Liza and company. He is roommates with Kelsey and Lauren. But now, he is able to put his passion back into his work. He may still be doing all of it for Liza. He doesn't want her to see the redesign until the grand opening party. He wants to keep it a secret. Kelsey and Lauren enjoy holding that over her. They can simply explain that they are the roommates who are coming in and out of Josh's life on a daily basis. Liza doesn't know how to explain her current relationship with Josh. They are exes who are still really good friends. In fact, Caitlin has kept in contact with Josh in the hopes that he will get back together with her mom. That makes it a surprise when she shows up at this party as well. It's a time for surprises and honesty. In Josh's big speech, he makes a point in signaling out the one person who got him to invest in his dreams. He still holds Liza in such high regard. He wants to do whatever it takes in order to win her back. He is still obviously in love with her. He's more than willing to go along with her to brunch with Caitlin and her new older boyfriend. He still sees the world from the perspective of being close in her life. And yet, he's doing all of this with no clarity that Liza has moved on to Charles - who also played a huge role in their past relationship because Liza was never entirely sure what she wanted out of her life.

And now, the destruction of keeping secrets is clear throughout this entire episode. Caitlin returns to the story and is immediately put in a situation that mirrors her mother's life. No, she isn't lying about her age in order to get some kind of opportunity. But she is dating someone who wants to keep their relationship a secret. It happens to be a professor at her college. They don't see it as the compromising teacher-student relationship that it could be perceived as. They have severed their academic dynamic completely in order to pursue a romance with one another. They are in town for a wedding. Caitlin is thrilled by the prospect of being able to live in the open as a couple. She doesn't see anything wrong with this relationship. She doesn't see it as a potential cry for help because of some lingering issue she has with her parents. But it does highlight how some of Liza's rationalizations and ideas have rubbed off on her daughter. Now, Caitlin is the one being hurt because she can't live an open and honest life. That's devastating to Liza. As such, it forces her to come clean about what she has been doing for work for the past year. Caitlin has been completely oblivious to Liza's job at Empirical. She didn't even know anything about it. She didn't know how her mother was paying for her tuition. She just understood that it was all being taken care of. Liza lied to get this job because of Caitlin. But it's taken five seasons for her to confess that to her daughter. Maggie wants to justify it out of the fear of being laughed at. Caitlin can't believe someone would buy this lie because she has always seen Liza as her mother. She couldn't pass as 27. And yet, this confession is enough to forge a new dynamic between mother and daughter that may hopefully inspire them to be more open and honest in the future.

All of this doesn't sit well with Josh either. Liza understands the hypocrisy she would be sending if she told Caitlin she couldn't date this older guy in secret. She is doing the same exact thing. It's in that moment where she is inspired to live a more open and honest life. But that only causes Josh pain. He cares about her. And now, it seems like she has just been using him this entire time. Yes, she clearly cares for him as well. There is always the potential of them getting back together. But right now, there is the betrayal that comes from learning about Liza and Charles dating. To Josh, it's clear that Liza may have been lying during their entire relationship. He was proud to live openly in this relationship. He wasn't asking her to live in secret. He wore his emotions on his sleeve and opened his heart to everything that this bond could be. He was so giving and understanding. She has still broken his heart multiple times. They were in a much better place now. But things quickly fall apart because of this revelation. Liza hates that she hurt Josh in this way. It's enough for him to completely get rid of the tattoo he got for her. He permanently altered his body for her. That was how he showed his love and devotion to her. He could easily keep this dragon tattoo. It doesn't have to forever symbolize his relationship with Liza. To anyone who just randomly sees it, it's simply a cool looking dragon. But Josh understands the importance of the design. It's something he got for Liza. And now, he feels like he can no longer give that part of himself over to her. That's painful and destructive. He may act impulsively in changing it. But it's what he feels he must do as well.

Meanwhile, Liza learns that it's not fair to her to forever be living in this secret with Charles. There have been several times over the course of the series that she would like to come clean about her secret. She would take full responsibility for whatever the fallout may be. But her friends have told her not to. They were willing to keep the secret as well. They were going to help her live as a 27 year old in the publishing industry. She is very grateful for that. She is happy for what her relationships with Kelsey and Charles have become. They have only gotten stronger because the truth was out there. As such, Liza doesn't want to just be kept as a secret always having to look over her shoulder to ensure that no one is going to catch her. She wants to date Charles. She wants to be with him openly though. She doesn't want the awkward moment where Diana walks in and sees the doodle with a kiss that Liza has given Charles. They are able to explain it away easily. But it's still an awkward moment for them. Liza doesn't want to live in fear that Quinn is making a serious move on Charles at a conference because no one can tell her that he is dating Liza. She just wants things to be simpler. Yes, keeping things quiet has been fun and exciting. It's been very sexy and seductive for the two of them as a couple. They have been trading glances and touches across the office testing the boundaries of how far they could go without getting caught. But that excitement could only last for so long. And now, it seems like their relationship has already burned out. That's surprising. It means that Liza is walking away until the time is right. Will they figure things out by the end of the season? Or is the love triangle about to rear its head in a major way during the final two episodes?

Some more thoughts:
  • "Girls on the Side" was written by Joe Murphy and directed by Todd Biermann.
  • Diana also finds herself having to lie in her relationship with Enzo. She doesn't like the fact that she has to keep sneaking around his mother and being subjected to her horrible comments about not being the right women for her son. She is too old to be dealing with that. That leads to a memorable blowup where she says that Enzo has been coddled and stunted because of his mother's actions. She doesn't want that at all.
  • And yet, it's still sweet when Enzo shows up on the ferry to tell Diana that he is going to be making some changes to his life. He's moving into her world. No, he isn't moving in with her. That happened too quickly in her last relationship and that was a major mistake. Him promising to get an apartment in Manhattan is just enough to assuage any fears about them breaking up as a couple.
  • Diana brings an Italian dish to this family get-together that she gets from Maggie. She wants to dazzle them with something exquisite. And yet, it's never explained how the dish got passed along to her. Did Liza just suggest it from Maggie and then bring it to work? Or did Diana have to stop by and pick it up from Maggie? Once again, the show is depriving the audience of Diana-Maggie interactions.
  • Quinn did ask if Charles was single. As such, that caused a moment of confusion for Kelsey and Liza as they had differing opinions about what to say. But that was all just a misdirect because Quinn and Charles are talking at this convention about Quinn possibly investing in the company. That's an intriguing tease that may build into something more. Or it could just be an empty fake-out for this specific story.
  • Does Caitlin knowing her mother's secret mean she will be seen more in the future? The show has always done a good enough job saying that Caitlin is important to Liza while explaining that she's frequently away at college. But people learning the truth about Liza has ultimately deepened their relationships with her. As such, that could suggest more importance from Caitlin.