Saturday, June 12, 2021

REVIEW: 'Younger' - Liza and Her Loved Ones Receive Complete Clarity About What the Future Holds for Them in 'Older'

Paramount+'s Younger - Episode 7.12 "Older"

Charles and Liza make amends and promise not to lie anymore, but Kelsey's plans force Liza to withhold the truth. Lauren plans a romantic reunion. Sparks fly between Maggie and an enemy-turned-friend.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series finale of Paramount+'s Younger.

"Older" was written by Darren Star and directed by Peter Lauer

In the end, does Liza have enough agency over her own story? The series started with her lying about her age in order to get a job after her divorce. The series ends with her becoming editor-in-chief at the company that hired her. This finale offers more full circle moments of reflection. It harkens back to the very beginning. It also sets up the future for these characters in a way fitting to their overall journeys while also establishing some happier resolutions. And yet, Liza's story may be a chaotic mess at the center of all of this. That has always been true to a certain extent. The show outgrew its central premise very early on. She easily could have come clean about her age in the second season. The show was determined to still use that conceit to create plot complications for several more years. It was used as an indicator of who she was as a person. She could always be judged based on this one decision. It shaped her life. It brought new opportunities and friendships to her. Her life is more rewarding and fulfilling now than ever before. She is grateful for all that she has accomplished and those who have helped her along the way. The show was never all that interested in being introspective about this premise though. Liza never truly had to deal with any meaningful consequences. The best arc of the entire series was when Kelsey felt betrayed after learning her best friend had been lying to her. That story offered insight and depth. And now, this final season basically ran out of interesting things to say. It has been grating and annoying. It's been obvious that the show was setting up some expected endings. It always fundamentally wanted to be a joyful show full of romance. The love triangle in Liza's personal life was always just as pivotal. That too was defined by her lie about her age. That shaped the relationships she had with both Josh and Charles. They always felt like they were competing for her affection. She and her friends would continually insist that she gave them her full heart and love when she was with them. They could never genuinely believe that. It's difficult for the audience to have ever believed that as well. Whenever things ended with one, the other would immediately pop up as a valid alternative. That is true at the end too. Absolutely nothing has changed. The show was convinced that final moment would be fitting because it reflects the conversation that started all of this between Liza and Josh. That isn't a fundamentally flawed idea. It was just poorly executed. The show hasn't explored them as a viable romantic couple in awhile. When they were, the show surely made the audience invest in their potential. The same was true when Liza was with Charles. But again, the story was never fundamentally about Liza. Instead, it was about the guys vying for her affection and then projecting their own issues onto her. It's a difficult situation but one that robs her of her agency. Her story is powerful. She isn't the one telling it. Instead, Redmond's boyfriend equates what she did with Bernie Madoff and Elizabeth Holmes in a musical number in the style of Chicago. It's certainly amusing. It adds no new context to anything though. It just serves as a reminder that the lie was once important. People still perceive Liza as a scam artist. And yet, that isn't relevant after Charles talks with Redmond offscreen. Again, the situation continually robs Liza of standing up for herself. Kelsey eventually comes to the realization that she needs to leave Empirical in order to build Inkubator as a massive success. That is understood. The narrative of the final season made that abundantly clear for her. It also reaffirms that she has terrible taste in guys. That was true in the beginning. It's true in the end. It's pure dysfunction with no evolution. The spark that once invigorated these stories was simply left behind in service of overly simplistic and reductive storytelling. That's frankly what this final season amounted to. Emotion drives the moment where Charles and Liza realize that things will never work out between them. That moment is fascinating. It comes at the very end instead of being something the show actively wanted to explore and give the weight it deserves. Liza accomplishes a lot. She also meddles and lies. The show addresses that duality at some points. Mostly though, it wants this to be a happy ending with Charles going off to finish his novel, Maggie and Lauren finding themselves in exciting romantic ventures and Kelsey moving to Los Angeles to build her new business. And then, Josh appears. He always had the most agency when he was interacting with Liza. The show struggled to provide him with meaningful stories elsewhere. His friendships with Kelsey and Lauren were earned and entertaining as well. But he was overlooked entirely this season. And now, everyone is just suppose to accept him as this final gesture. It's hopeful for those who believe in the power of that relationship. And yes, the show made that investment. It feels earned. But it has nothing to do with the characters at this specific moment in time. It's just a twist to have a twist at the end of everything to hopefully leave the audience talking about what it all means. It's poorly constructed nonsense pure and simple. That's unfortunate.