Sutton Foster says goodbye to 7 seasons of Younger and discusses that iconic final throwback
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of Younger.
Younger has come of age.
The series finale of the Darren Star-created comedy aired Thursday, and viewers finally got to see the lasting implications of Liza's (Sutton Foster) tiny white lie about her age. In a truly epic final scene, Liza and Josh (Nico Tortorella) flirted back at the bar where they first met, reliving their initial conversation about bar etiquette, Burma, and tattoos. In doing so, they gave us all the hope that they might find their way back to one another romantically.
Elsewhere, Charles (Peter Hermann) realized he could never fully trust Liza as her lie would always come between them, and he set his sights on a new creative endeavor, leaving Liza to run Empirical. Also on the professional front, Kelsey (Hilary Duff) found a home for her startup with none other than Reese Witherspoon's production company and made plans to jet off to Los Angeles to start a new life (and hopefully a spin-off?).
All in all, it was a satisfying ending for Younger fans, after seven seasons of laughs, tears, freak scaffolding accidents, toilet ice sculptures, and oh so much statement jewelry. We chatted with Foster about saying goodbye to the show and how she felt about Liza's ending.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling now the last episode is out there?
SUTTON FOSTER: Well, we wrapped in February so I've had some time, but it's definitely a loss. It's this wonderful thing. It really is genuine. We really do like love each other. So it was sad to have to think, "Oh, we're not going to all come back together in a year." It's very bittersweet; I'm so grateful that we had seven seasons, and also looking forward to all of us doing new things. I love everybody so much, and I'll just miss all the goofiness.
I want to get into the series finale, but first can you talk a little about your first impression of this show when the script came your way?
I had just come off of doing Bunheads, which was Amy Sherman-Palladino's ABC Family show. It had just been canceled and I had moved out to L.A. after living in New York for 20 years and being primarily in a theater. I got out here and kind of felt lost, and my agent sent me the script for Younger and it's Darren Star. I read the script and immediately was like, "Oh my gosh, I think I might be able to pull this off." It was sort of an extreme concept, but I was kind of falling between the cracks a little bit, age-wise. I was still reading young — I was 39. I thought maybe I could pull this off. I could hear myself saying the lines, and I liked that it was about a woman reinventing herself. I felt like I was doing that at the same time because I was in L.A. It felt like the right fit. I auditioned and was really going for it. I really wanted this job.
Then when we shot the pilot… You do something and you have no idea how it's going to go, and then Darren sent me a copy of the pilot and I remember watching it with my husband and I watched it with my hands over my eyes, because I thought, "Oh God, is this going to work? Are we going to buy it?" I remember turning to my husband going, "I think it's working!" He was like, "I think so too!" This show was a slow burn. We didn't come out of the gate as this hit show. We had a soft opening. Then it grew and we grew viewership as the show went on. I think in many ways that to our advantage because we never got ahead of the show. We were all just so grateful and we loved it, and then more and more people were watching it. Even now, I still get texts from friends or people saying, "Oh my gosh, we just started watching Younger!" People are still discovering it. I love being a part of the little engine that could. I think that's also why the environment of the show just stayed a super-healthy environment.
Obviously Darren Star is a TV legend. Did working with him surpass your expectations of how it would be?
It's so crazy because you're like, Darren Star! and then you meet him and he's just a normal guy. I'm married to a writer, so whenever I read a script and I'm like, "Oh, the script is so great," my husband's like, "Well, did you tell Darren? Did you text Darren and let him know?" I just never think to. He doesn't need me to say, "Good job!" My husband's like, "Being a writer, I think he would appreciate it." And so I would always like text Darren, like, "Oh my gosh, I read episode 11. It's fantastic." Darren would always write me back and be like, "Oh my gosh, thank you, Sutton. That means so much." He wants someone to tell him he's doing a good job too. I think we all do. He was a wonderful boss. I felt like he never led us astray. Every script and every story line felt true to the characters and always fun to do. It was a dream.
And always so relevant. The show did so well at staying ahead of the curve.
I do feel like it had this masterful way of staying ahead, and a lot happened during the course of the show. They really incorporated a lot of what was happening into the story lines, which was cool. It all felt true. It didn't feel forced. I was always impressed with the spoofs on all the books. They had someone that they worked within publishing who gave them tips and stuff on the books that were coming out, so they did have like a mole, which makes me laugh. They had spies — someone on the inside that helped them know what the new hot books were going to be every year. That helped them stay ahead a little bit.
Okay, before we get to the finale, over the course of the seven seasons, did you go back and forth on whether you wanted Liza to end up with Josh or Charles?
Honestly, everyone was always trying to get me to pick a side. I really never, never did. I was really excited when we finally were Team Charles, because that was this unrequited love for so long and there were all these stolen glances and stuff. I finally needed to see that through, so I was happy to see that happen. I felt like as I navigated playing her in all the scenes, I had to keep both lanes open. I could never really choose. So even when I was in a scene with Josh, we always had to keep everything a possibility because I think that was essential to the storytelling, and that was also very true to the character. I don't think she ever — even when she was with Charles, she was still confused. I will say that I loved the way it ends. I love that she has another moment with Charles. They're back together for a hot second, but then the realization that her lie and the fact that who Charles is fundamentally as a person, he'll never be able to truly trust her. The like ultimately does have consequences, and it cost her this relationship. The way that they handle it — the writers and the way that they handle it in the storytelling — it's a very mature breakup. It's this realization of, "Oh wow, this will always come between us, and it's s---."
I will say as a fan of the show, it was very rewarding to see that moment with Josh at the end and have that hope that they'll find their way back to one another.
I do think it's super-rewarding. It's a perfect ending for the show. Josh is the reason that Liza does all this stuff. He was the catalyst. So to have him be the end, when I read it, I went, "Oh yeah, there's no other way."
How delighted were you with the very last scene being a throwback to Liza and Josh's first meeting?
It was beyond. It was Nico's last day, so emotions were already so high. It was actually Nico's last scene, so it was the last scene that Nico shot for the whole series. So Nico was a disaster. He was bawling and we barely made it through. I think Nico was the first cast member to wrap, because of [The Walking Dead: World Beyond], so it was really a beautiful moment. It was a real gift to be able to go back. Seven years ago we had just met each other, and so much has happened in our own lives. It was a really special way to tie up that story. When I read the script, I went, "Oh yeah, that's it." It couldn't end any other way.
Yup, just back at the bar where they met, waving a shoe at the bartender.
I think by season 7 it was a Prada shoe. In season 1 it was a flip-flop or something; now she wears Prada.
Liza's professional conclusion was also so great because her career was truly the reason she started lying about her again in the first place.
A thousand percent. That was what the whole show was about. I was really impressed that the writers never lost sight of that. It's so easy to get distracted by all this Team Charles, Team Josh, but they went back and they were like, "All right, what is the show really about?" And then that's how it ends. And I was like, "Yeah! Done!"
And same for Kelsey too. I'm so glad her focus was her career and not some mediocre guy she was dating.
Yes, and that she's going off to be the boss of her company. I also love that Charles is now reinventing himself. He's taking off the suit and pursuing a creative passion, and I think that's something really exciting to see from a man that's established, and that we're leaving the woman in charge while the man goes to pursue a creative dream. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the writers' room. They're all super-passionate about these characters, and nothing is done without enormous debate.
What was the final scene you shot?
It was the musical in the finale. That was our last day. It was actually cool because theater has been non-existent for the last year and we were in a theater, watching people entertain us, many of whom are my friends. It was so cool to have Broadway people on the stage performing. We were watching just being entertained. The the very last scene we shot was on the sidewalk where I just say, "I think I'm gonna go home."
There's a nice "I love you moment," at least.
Yeah, we say, "I love you," but that's the beginning of "This isn't going to work."
I would go see Scammers: The Musical, though.
I know. It's hilarious.
What's your overall takeaway from this show? And what do you hope is the message fans will take away from the series?
It's never too late to reinvent yourself. It's never too late to start over. It's never too late to pursue your dreams. I think my lasting impression of the whole experience is, I was just so proud to be part of such a hopeful, optimistic show with so many incredible people. That's what I'll remember. I'm just so thrilled that so many people have tuned in and been a part of our world, and I'm so grateful to all the fans and everyone who's shown up, season after season. It'll always just be a very special part of my life.