Tuesday, August 28, 2018

REVIEW: 'Younger' - The Future Is Uncertain as Empirical Embraces Major Changes in 'Lizability'

TV Land's Younger - Episode 5.12 "Lizability"

With change in the air at Empirical, Liza considers her options. Kelsey receives surprising news. Charles finds a solution.

This has proven to be a season of change for Younger. The already announced sixth season is only going to produce more changes as well because of the twists that occur in this finale. However, this season was still defined by a lot of back-and-forth drama that grew tiring after awhile because it was uncertain what the characters wanted and if these changes would actually occur. How long would Charles stay mad at Liza? Will Liza and Charles be able to last as a secret romance? Was Charles and Liza's breakup going to stick? Was Liza going to take a job running an imprint for Cheryl? Was Zane a good and healthy romantic interest for Kelsey? Was Kelsey actually interested in pursuing something more with Zane? Could Diana actually just accept that she is in love with Enzo despite them coming from two different worlds? These were just some of the questions that fueled so much of the story this season. Again, it was a lot of back-and-forth in the hopes of keeping the audience guessing about what was going to happen next. And yet, the show can only do that so many times before it needs to just stick to an answer and move on to the next situation. This was the season where three new people learned about Liza's secret - Charles, Caitlin and Quinn. All of them had important responses to the truth being out. And now, it's clear that the show is finally ready to just blow up its premise all together. Liza has always been afraid about what her secret being exposed could do to her career and to the lives of her friends and colleagues. She didn't want to ruin the business for Charles and Kelsey. She is only tempted with this offer by Cheryl because she presents an easy way out despite offering a business that isn't what Liza does well. There was the genuine assumption that Liza was going to leave Empirical and the show would explore that for a little bit. But instead, she is staying onboard as the company gets a huge influx of cash from Quinn along with a number of demands that are bound to shake up the business.

It's easy to understand why Quinn is so much more attracted to Millennial as a profitable business over Empirical. This season has entirely been about Millennial titles selling so well and Empirical continuing to struggle. Sure, both brands get their financing from Charles. But it's so much easier to associate Charles and Zane with Empirical. As such, it makes it seem like they are attached to a company that is going under. Charles told Liza that the company only had enough money to last for three more months. That's insane considering the hits that Millennial has delivered. Marriage Vacation and Capital Letters were broad hits. Kelsey even mentions that Jake's book will be one of the most memorable and successful novels for the year. That coupled with Millennial's production deal with Reese Witherspoon's company gives the perception that they are a brand that is ready to weather the storm and continue to thrive in the declining publishing world. Quinn wanted to work with the Liza and Kelsey. She was willing to bring a group of investors together in order to save this struggling business. She feels inspired by the work that Kelsey and Liza are doing. As such, her only real demand is that Millennial becomes the flagship brand of the company. Again, that's to be expected because the two of them have proven very capable of landing talent and bringing incredible work onto the page. Zane was brought in to boost the titles under the Empirical name. And yet, he really didn't do anything this season. He was always competitive with Kelsey. But she always won. She always found a way to beat him which made him feel like he no longer has a place in this company.

Of course, it's also important to highlight that Kelsey is still a 20-something learning the ways of this business. She made a massive error in judgment in becoming personally involved with one of her authors again. She has made this mistake in the past. She believed she handled things differently this time around. And yet, she still alienates the author of her best-selling title. In fact, that highlights a possible growing concern for Millennial as a company. Marriage Vacation and Capital Letters are these big hits for the company but neither of the authors want to work with them again. Pauline feels betrayed by Liza for befriending her while also having an affair with Charles. And Jake feels betrayed after being rejected by Kelsey. Liza and Kelsey still have more offerings in the pipeline. It's still enough to get people excited. They still have these various deals that will allow the company to grow. But they are still learning how to balance the demands of this business. That's what will make it very interesting to watch as both of them are promoted to the executive level here. In fact, Kelsey becomes the new publisher of the company. She replaces Charles in the job. That's huge. Meanwhile, Liza will be able to advance in her career because Quinn has a plan of attack for handling her secret. As such, she will no longer have to work as Diana's assistant. That means there were no longer be the stigma of a high-level CEO dating an assistant in his company. That stigma is still attached to their relationship even though she's not some naive 20-something. She is a divorced mother of a college student who did whatever it took in order to combat ageism in the industry. She ends the season strong and focused on what she wants.

Liza is incredibly humble about all of this as well. Cheryl and Quinn are each making vast promises to her in the hopes of landing her for their respective businesses. Cheryl believes her company has the deep pockets of a well-connected industry to last much longer than Empirical. She just sees Charles' company as dying. She can hand Liza a significant bonus in money as well as her own office and imprint. It's all very impressive. Except for the name of course. Chick(y) is absolutely terrible for the name of an imprint for the exact reasons that Kelsey points out later on. It's not the kind of position that Liza would actually do well in. Cheryl is just trying to lure her in as a way to get someone respectable in the industry while not having to reach too deep. Her offer is significantly more money than what Liza is currently making. But there's also the assumption that it's not the same as someone who has held that level of executive position before. And yet, it's not about the money to Liza. She is leaving to protect her friends. Cheryl is making this decision knowing how old Liza is. That puts a new layer of defense for her when her secret comes out. And now, Liza is absolutely operating under the assumption that the truth will be exposed sooner rather than later. She is no longer comfortable keeping this ruse going. She has hurt the people she loves because of it. She no longer wants to do that. Of course, the only significant person in her life who is still being deceived is Diana. As such, it still makes it difficult for them to have genuine conversations. But that's also because Diana only wants to look at Liza as her assistant who needs a strong mentor in this business. Instead, Liza and Kelsey have been able to build up an imprint that is the talk of the town. Everyone is trying to mimic their success. That's why Quinn needs to know the truth. She is willing to celebrate what Liza did as well. She knows and understands the optics from a different perspective. She sees this as a potential boom to the business she has just acquired. As such, she's not willing to let Liza go so quickly.

However, Quinn is willing to pull her entire investment after learning that the public face of Empirical has been having a relationship with an assistant in his company. It's not about age either. It's an abuse of power. Quinn can't find a spin on that that will play in the current climate. This behavior is wrong. It's enough to taint and destroy the entire business. As such, Charles has to fall on his own sword in order to keep his company alive. Technically, he gets promoted to Chairman of the Board. But he's still essentially stepping down and walking away from the day-to-day aspects of his family business. He can sell it as a good thing. It will give him more time to focus on what's really important in his life. He can spend more time with his daughters while also getting the freedom to date Liza openly. Sure, people around the office probably already think it's suspicious that Liza goes running after Charles after he makes this announcement. Diana needs to tell her that it's quite a coup that Kelsey has just pulled off even though Kelsey had no idea that this promotion was coming her way. Liza is concerned but accepts the explanation that Charles gives her. This could be a good thing for their relationship. They are able to openly kiss in public. It is freeing for them. And yet, it also comes at such a cost too. They both have such a passion for this business. It was what sparked the connection between them immediately. And now, Charles is essentially walking away. He has more freedom in his life. But he may come to regret having to lose his business in order to pursue a relationship with Liza. As such, it will put even more pressure on them to succeed as a couple. She will be running this company alongside Kelsey. They will push it forward in a bold new direction. That's very exciting. But it's also just as notable to see Liza and Charles with looks of concern on their faces as they walk away together at the end of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Lizability" was written by Darren Star & Grant Sloss and directed by Andrew Fleming.
  • How much change should the audience expect in the next season? Kelsey and Liza are now executives in Millennial. That will come with significant pay increases. As such, they may no longer need to be living with Josh, Lauren and Maggie. They could have completely different and spacious apartments. They are moving on up in the world but that could also separate them from the rest of their friends who are so important to the show as well.
  • Maggie seriously asks Josh if he would donate sperm so that Malkie could have a baby. It's an issue that essentially breaks them up. And yet, she still does the right thing in asking. After a spiritual journey prompted by Lauren, Josh walks away with more clarity regarding kids. He always told Liza he has fine not having any if it meant being with her. But now, he realizes that he does want to be a father with someone he genuinely loves.
  • And then, Claire shows up on Josh's doorstep pregnant. That too is a surprising turn of events. Now, Claire wasn't a great character last season. Her romance with Josh wasn't as loving as the show made it seem. It happened very quickly. But now, this could be a new complication that will force Josh to get even more clarity on his life and what he is willing to do. They are going to have to talk about how to be co-parents to this baby.
  • There is once again another fight between Diana and Enzo where it seems like she doesn't treat his job seriously because it's not glamorous. It's bad enough to make her believe that the relationship is done. It was always doomed from the start. And yet, she goes running to him as soon as he goes missing in the sewers of New York. When he is found, she is willing to embrace and love him despite the sewage now covering him.
  • Zane quits his job at Empirical as well. Right now, I can't tell if it's a twist that will take him off the show completely. He's leaving because the show didn't quite know what to do with him and Kelsey missed her chance with a genuine guy. Or it could be setting up a new story where him and Kelsey return to being competitive while working at different companies. He says he has a new job already. So, the potential is there for him to keep causing problems.