Tuesday, August 21, 2018

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Empirical Travels to Germany to Attend a Prestigious Book Fair in 'Fraudlein'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 5.11 "Fraudlein"

The Empirical gang heads to Frankfurt for the world's biggest annual book fair.

Younger has officially caught the travel bug. Last season, they spent an episode in Ireland. And now, they spend an episode in Frankfurt, Germany. It's a unique location. But one that actually works out for the show. It certainly makes more sense than the story behind last year's Irish adventure. A year ago Liza and Maggie traveled to Ireland to attend Josh's wedding to Claire so that she could stay in America. It was all a little too ridiculous. Plus, it was awkwardly handled at the end of the season so that it separated the cast when big developments where happening in the overall story. The Frankfurt adventure happens at the end of the season as well. But "Fraudlein" is the penultimate episode instead of the finale. As such, it means that a far amount of story and conflicts are being set up that will be paid off in next week's finale. But there is also value in this specific story as Liza, Charles, Kelsey, Diana and Zane travel to Germany for this book festival. They attend as a show of strength. Charles is putting his best foot forward as a company in order to continue to court investors. Sure, the show has told the audience never to really care about money. There is always some way that the company is saved even when investors pull out or scandals erupt. Empirical has survived a lot. So, there isn't a whole lot of emergency to this latest threat to the basic business of the show. And yet, Charles does mention that they only have three months left of working capital. So even though Millennial is doing so well across the globe, they are still a part of a company that could be going under very soon. That has to mean something if the show has spent this much time focusing on it. Sure, it could still ultimately be nothing. It could amount to the same amount of interest as this Frankfurt adventure. As such, it feels a little too repetitive of a story - especially as it has an impact on the various character dynamics.

Liza and Charles only broke up a week ago. And now, Liza is finding a way to get back together with him. She also frames it as her sacrificing herself so that her friends don't have to continue lying for her. But it's much more visible when it comes to the Liza-Charles relationship. When Liza is making the decision about her future, she is discussing it with Charles. Sure, she has thought about most of it by herself and has largely come to the conclusion that she will leave Empirical and accept Cheryl's offer. But she still talks it over with Charles especially as it pertains to them possibly starting their romance once more. When she approaches Kelsey with the news, it's already a done deal even though she places much more value on that relationship. She is making the decision for Kelsey because she has the foresight of just how painful things could become if this inevitably leads to tragedy. Liza has always been preparing for scandal surrounding her. She expects her secret to be exposed at a moment's notice and making anyone around her toxic to the rest of the world. She has been told that if the truth comes out it will not only ruin Kelsey and Charles' careers but also their businesses. So many people would be out of a job even though they had no clue that they were being deceived by Liza. As such, this is a very enticing offer. Cheryl suggests that it's a perfect answer to Liza's problems because she wouldn't be hired based on a lie. There wouldn't be a scandal because Cheryl knows the truth. That way it wouldn't be a big deal should it even become a public story. As such, it feels like a freeing opportunity for Liza. But again, the audience has to question if the show is actually serious about blowing its premise up at the end of the season.

As such, it's important to get some sense of the cost of all of the lying. At times, it's nothing more than a simple joke. Liza talks about all the sudden trips to Europe and finds himself immediately having to correct herself as soon as she starts telling the story of her honeymoon. It's a very bad lie too about birth years being associated with a specific flower. No one calls her out for it either. Kelsey just has to continue to back her up. It's no big deal to her either. She is perfectly happy to do this for her friend. She is supporting her because they are in a new environment with so much depending on the panel going well. The company has to be impressive. And it ultimately is too. The two books that they brought to promote get handed a prestigious award. It makes them the hit of the festival. It articulates how Kelsey and Liza may have actually outgrown the expertise and experience afforded to them by Charles and Diana. It's clear that Diana desperately wants to be included in the celebration and take credit for Kelsey and Liza's careers. She sees herself as a mentor who has helped them forge their identities in this industry. Part of that is her own selfish decision for success and to still be relevant. But part of it is also sympathetic envy. She wants to be included in these hits. Right now, she is nothing more than the assistant fetching pens. The tables have turned for her and Liza. Liza catches it but is still allowed to celebrate as well. She worked hard for this success. And yet, she is still called out for looking too old to be a 27-year-old woman. She can't just focus on the work because there is the fear that her lie is about to completely unravel on her. That's what fuels this decision of hers. She doesn't want to jeopardize anyone else's career.

Liza wants to be in a relationship with Charles and doesn't want Kelsey to resent her. It's clear that Kelsey parties too hard in Frankfurt because she's celebrating but also because she's subconsciously struggling with all of the lies. She too is questioning her own decision-making skills. She wonders if she has misjudged Zane after he punches a guy in the face who was getting too handsy with her. He looked out for her in a moment where she really needed help. Sure, it's funny how she just forgets her coat and freaks out that she has just made the same mistake with Zane all over again. But he proves himself to be a gentleman even though his one lead for a new author doesn't pan out in Europe. It's such an easy joke for it to be revealed that the guy he punched is the prospective author he wants to meet with. But it also highlights how he was never going to be a good fit at Empirical because the company already had to weather one sexual harassment and abuse scandal with Edward L.L. Moore. Of course, Moore was Zane's author at one point as well. So at the end of the day, he may just be looking out for authors who can create expansive worlds and series that will ultimately be nothing more than cash cows for the company. That may be a smart way to conduct business. But it may also welcome a specific type of writer who believes they are entitled to whatever they want. That's dangerous and may force Zane to check his taste a little bit. He's still being positioned as a romantic interest for Kelsey though. She is re-evaluating what a relationship with him could be. And yet, she isn't able to complete that thought just yet because she is interrupted by Liza who has this massive news about her career.

That is the most moving moment from "Fraudlein" as well. It is a little rushed at the end of the episode. But the emotions are so spot on. Kelsey is completely thrown by this revelation from her best friend. She believed that she and Liza would continue running this imprint for a long time. She doesn't know the financial stress that Charles is currently under. Liza does. That doesn't really impact her decision at all though. She trusts that things will work out for the company like they always do. In fact, she gets the confirmation from Charles that one of the meetings with an Italian company may actually lead to Empirical getting an offer. So, the solution is already out there. If not them, then it is going to be Quinn. So, things will work out. Kelsey will continue to have a thriving career. Liza understands that she isn't necessary in order for Millennial to be a success. She is a great editor who has helped the company grow immensely. But Kelsey has the skills to continue the growth and succeed in the business. Charles knew that there was something worth investing in her long before Liza started working as Diana's assistant. This offer is also enticing because it means Liza getting an actual promotion. She does so much for Empirical and Millennial. But she is still basically treated as Diana's assistant. She is paid as such as well even though she got a massive holiday bonus from Charles. The financial motivation is how Cheryl sees the benefit of hiring Liza. She understands that it could be a coup to get her without having to pay for someone of equal value. It makes sense for her business with Liza probably feeling the incentive because of the secret and the sinking ship that is Empirical. But Liza ultimately makes this decision because she doesn't want anything to ruin her friendship with Kelsey. That is simply too important to her. Even if they aren't working together, they will continue to be in each other's lives. As such, it should be fascinating to see if Liza follows through on this decision to leave and if the show actually spends time with her at a different publishing company.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fraudlein" was written by Don Roos and directed by Andrew Fleming.
  • The most joyous moment of the episode comes when Diana and Cheryl get up on a stage and perform a cabaret number. It's absolutely fantastic. It takes the rest of the characters as well as the audience by total surprise. This is something Cheryl is pushing Diana to do. But in the end, she enjoys performing as well. It brings the attention back on her and gives her a victorious moment too. It's so fantastic.
  • Cheryl and Diana are so similar as well. They both have serious crushes on Charles. Diana doesn't act on it because she's happily in a relationship with Enzo. She just makes small comments about the potential of the two of them together. Meanwhile, Cheryl is just extremely blunt about what she wants from him even though she is incredibly drunk and mixing up her words.
  • And yet, Cheryl also discovers that Charles and Liza are having sex. She is still drunk at that moment but she is bound to remember it because she makes a point in investigating. She immediately gets an answer from Liza. It's the answer she wants. But she also sees a shirtless Charles which is bound to complicate things because it's more information that Cheryl can leverage against Liza.
  • Maggie and Malkie get into a disagreement because Malkie brings up the fact that she wants to have children and has already spent a lot of money trying to get pregnant. It's a complete surprise to Maggie. She is blindsided by it just randomly being introduced at the latest dinner they're having with Josh and Lauren. She is thrown by it which only disappoints Malkie because she believes she would make a great mother.
  • Of course, Maggie's whole storyline feels purely like set up for some twist that is bound to happen in the finale. Things happen very quickly with it just being assumed that Josh could be a sperm donor. Having kids has been a big debate for him in the past. So, this may be something he's interested in doing. But again, it will still have to be something that everyone involved can agree to.