Promotions, pregnancies, and plumbing: Darren Star and Hilary Duff on Younger's season finale
We wouldn’t be surprised if you feel older after watching the season 5 finale of TV Land’s Younger.
There was no shortage of drama as Liza (Sutton Foster) almost left Millennial for good, only to be saved by a deal from Quinn that ended up costing Charles his central role in his own company, and also gave Kelsey a massive promotion. And that was just one storyline: Elsewhere, Josh was dreaming of having babies with Liza before ex-wife (current wife?) Clare showed up on his doorstep looking very pregnant, and — perhaps the most agonizing part of the episode — Enzo nearly died!!
Since it’s now MONTHS until we find out what that last look of impending doom on Liza and Charles’ faces meant, we decided to grill show creator Darren Star and Hilary Duff (Kelsey) about how much we can read into it, and what’s in store when the series returns for season 6.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You teased us with the idea of Liza leaving Millennial and going to work with Cheryl (Martha Plimpton). Did you ever intend for her to follow through with that and leave for good?
DARREN STAR: We tried to follow the logic of the character; it just felt like she would want to leave, and because of her relationship with Charles (Peter Hermann), it just sort of bit her in the ass a little bit. It’s all the idea that her lie has unseen consequences that hit her in unexpected ways. That’s the thing about a lie; it has this ripple effect. It started very innocently, and it just takes on greater weight as the series goes on.
Have Quinn’s (Laura Benanti) plans to invest in Millennial and share Liza’s story mean the lie has come to an end?
STAR: Possibly, and that’s totally fine. I think it’s moved beyond the idea of a lie to a relationship between a boss and an employee at a time when it just isn’t as simple as it used to be. I think we really conceived of this season thinking about the #MeToo movement. You can’t help thinking about it and how it affects our characters, including the way we looked at them, how we perceive them differently now, and how we perceive Charles and Liza’s relationship differently. It’s a story about a boss and employee, and that’s still tricky waters to navigate regardless of somebody lying about their age. It’s just in and of itself a tricky situation.
HILARY DUFF: I like that the lie can end. I think we have enough going on and enough depth to the show that that doesn’t matter anymore. I got kind of tired of that storyline, but I was so happy that they continued to let more and more and very important people find out. I love the way Charles found out. We were about to start shooting when they sent the scripts in and we were all kind of experiencing this for the first time at the table read and we’re like, “This feels like the end of the season! What’s going on?”
In that final scene, why do Charles and Liza look so miserable after seeming so happy to be together moments earlier?
STAR: I don’t think they’re miserable, but I think they’re just suddenly thinking that it’s not as fun and easy as they went in thinking it might be. I’ve always thought of Charles and Liza’s relationship as sort of like illusion vs. reality, and now they’re getting what they want but it’s not as easy as they imagined. That relationship has always been based in a bit of fantasy for both of them. Now they’re together, but they have to deal with reality, which is what every relationship is about once you get past that infatuation period and start dealing with the actual person.
How much of Charles’ identity is tied to being a publisher? Will he feel lost without it next season?
STAR: Well, he’s not going to be the day-to-day voice of his company, and it’s certainly going to create an issue for him and some complications down the line. He gets to preserve his company, but I don’t think it’s game over for him there completely.
With Charles no longer the face of the company, Kelsey is confronted with a massive promotion. Is she ready for it?
STAR: I think that’s a big question. She’s very young and sometimes people’s ambition can get in front of their maturity. I think in Kelsey’s case, she’s probably been handed something that’s bigger than she imagines, so I think a big question is how does she deal with it? Liza’s going to be very important for her because I feel like Kelsey hasn’t done it all on her own; she’s really been in a partnership with Liza.
DUFF: I think she’s going to rise to the challenge and be able to take it on. I think she’s going to get stressed and feel like she can’t handle it a couple of times, but she knows what she’s doing. She has really good intuition, and she’s tired of feeling like no one trusts her at the company when her imprint is the one making all the money now. I think with someone like Quinn behind her to help her, she’s going to pull it off, but everything can’t go so smooth, or we won’t have a season. What’s great about Kelsey is that she always feels like it’s going to be okay. She’s very optimistic and feels like there’s a way to solve everything. I’m really curious to see where it goes.
I’m also so curious to see how Diana (Miriam Shor) reacts to Kelsey in this superior position, especially if she finds out Liza’s true age.
STAR: Will she (Diana) ever find out? I don’t know right now. I don’t know how important it is for Diana to know. I think it’s important for her sanity to be preserved for the moment. Every show has to evolve. The story and characters naturally keep pulling you in interesting, challenging directions. What I love about the women on this show, they’re not at all competitive with each other; they’re supportive of each other. They’re ambitious. This is also a show about women at work. Liza’s initially doing this to be relevant and get a job. That just ends up exceeding beyond her wildest dreams.
DUFF: Diana and Kelsey don’t have the greatest relationship, and I don’t know how much of that is because she sees herself in Kelsey. I have no idea how Diana would respond. Part of me thinks she’s just not even going to hear her, or just be fine with it. Everyone else has had such a big reaction that I feel like it’ll almost be really nonchalant, like, “Whatever.”
So it seems like we’re fully committing to Team Charles at this point. Is all hope lost for Team Josh fans?
STAR: I don’t think so. I feel like Liza and Josh (Nico Tortorella) have this sort of incredible connection. I think Liza has made a decision where she felt like he was too young for her, but more than that, that she was too old for him. But I also think that Josh has matured a lot over this season.
But now with a baby with Clare (Phoebe Dynevor) on the way… Did you always plan to reintroduce Clare in that way?
STAR: We did. Phoebe wasn’t available to us for a while so we just started thinking about what else we were going to do with Clare. We thought it would be interesting to bring back the baby thing with a different red herring for Josh, and then have Clare appear unexpectedly pregnant at the end, with us not really knowing really how it got to here or what the circumstances are.
I really didn’t see it coming.
STAR: Good. I love surprises in shows. I like watching shows and just seeing the unexpected. To look back to Melrose Place, a character was in a car crash and disappeared for the whole season and reappeared… I think there’s something to really letting audiences believe the character is gone and forgetting about them so you get the shock when they come back. Clare certainly wasn’t dead; she was just off screen for a long time.
I’ve also really loved seeing Josh and Maggie’s friendship evolve this season. They really seem to bring out the best in each other.
STAR: Yeah, I think they’re kind of kindred spirits in a way. They’re both artistic souls and again, I love that this show is about people from different generations finding friendships with each other, and Liza is the catalyst to all of these friendships. I think it’s a great message the show has, that Josh and Maggie are great friends and have so much in common and love hanging out together, and I think that Lauren (Molly Bernard) and Diana (Debi Mazar) is another relationship that we have begun to [explore]. I like the chemistry between them too.
But my absolute favorite relationship is Diana and Enzo (Chris Tardio). Please tell me they have staying power?
STAR: I love them too. They’re really fun together. They’re really fun to write. I love their chemistry. I love what he does for Diana and what she does for him. He’s a character that was in the series a couple of seasons ago, and we always liked him and always thought it’d be great to bring him back and see more of the two of them together because they really had something. They’re just this odd couple that really works. It’s fun to discover.
What about Kelsey and Zane (Charles Michael Davis), do they have a future?
DUFF: Part of me is very annoyed by his behavior. Not sticking around to work for his peer that’s a girl? I’m like, “You’re weak sauce, dude.” I think last season humanized him a lot where you’re like, “Okay he’s not just a player, he actually has feelings for Kelsey.” But he didn’t really take her seriously in the beginning, so it’s good that she moves on.
One of the highlights of this season was all the musical moments; Liza’s performance of the “Lonely Goatherd” and Diana and Cheryl doing Cabaret. How did those come about?
STAR: I think the yodeling, the Sound of Music song, was just thinking about a very sentimental way for Charles to look at Liza with fresh eyes. We came up with that idea for the Christmas episode and the fact that we were able to get the Sound of Music “Lonely Goatherd”… it was just something that I wanted to see Sutton do. The Cabaret number was just completely for fun and it was fun to see that side of Diana. I also just really wanted to see the two of them perform and we had an excuse to do it. I can watch that over and over again.
Hilary, would you want to do some singing next season?
DUFF: I would love to. I don’t know if Kelsey would be a good singer or not. Darren always says Kelsey and Liza don’t sing. He’s like, “They’re not like you guys” to Sutton and me. I think it would be fun. I think like a drunken party scene or…You know what I would love to see next season? You know how companies do retreats all together? It would be cool if Kelsey wrangled a big retreat for everyone to go somewhere and just like all hell breaks loose.
Do you have a favorite episode or scene from this season as a whole? Hilary, I love anytime you have to act drunk.
DUFF: Playing drunk is so hard for me and they make me do it all the time on the show. This time Martha (Plimpton) was showing me how to walk down the hallway looking drunk by spinning in circles a bunch of times to make myself dizzy and it worked. For that episode (episode 11), we shot the drunk, hung-over, and emotional stuff with Liza in one day, and I was just wiped when I got home. We’re pretty close and filming that crying scene was towards the end of the season too, so — even though we’re happy to be done because the schedule’s pretty crazy — we all go our separate ways for a few months and we’re like, “This sucks, it’s so emotional!” I was also pregnant so that was probably helping me out.
STAR: I have so many favorites. I love the two musical numbers; I thought they were just a blast to watch and film and to be able to see that side of Sutton and Miriam — who were both Broadway performers — was just really fun. I actually love that scene at the end of the finale where Diana goes and finds Enzo when he’s cleaning out the sewers. She steps up to the plate and it’s so nice to see. That’s love.