When “Younger” debuted in 2015, the show was built on a lie. The female protagonist, Liza Miller, played by the Tony Award-winning Sutton Foster, is a 40-year-old divorcee who poses as a millennial in order to re-establish a career in the book publishing industry.
Seven seasons later, as the show enters its final batch of episodes, “Younger” is telling the truth.
“There is no more lie. She is not hiding anything anymore, and this season, she is creative and daring and is taking charge,” Foster says of her character.
For the first time since the series has been on the air, Liza’s age is not the crux of the show. With her real identity out in the open, the storylines won’t be rooted in dancing-around Liza’s lie, which opens up the floodgates for entirely new character dynamics — especially when it comes to Liza’s love life.
“It was freeing and it sets up a more mature season,” creator Darren Star tells Variety of not needing to write around Liza’s age for Season 7. “It really freed the characters just to be exactly who they are. Any of the farcical elements of the show we weren’t dealing with anymore. We did it for a long time — quite honestly for much longer than I thought. I thought the premise would run out of stream faster than it did.”
With Liza’s boss-slash-beau, Charles (Peter Hermann), knowing her true identity, their relationship enters new territory — which means it also hits new roadblocks, even after he proposed in the sixth season finale.
“Their concerns [are] just so much more adult, in terms of their issues and the drama between them,” Star says of Charles and Liza.
In terms of whether Liza will end up with Charles or her ex Josh (Nico Tortorella — or anyone — Star adds, “I think it wraps up in a very unexpected way. I feel like it wraps up in satisfying way, and I hope people feel that way. I think the best thing about the last episode, which is an hour, is that the story isn’t told until the very final scene of the show.”
And while Foster is sad to say goodbye to “Younger,” but she is happy with how the show ends. “I am so incredibly pleased with how Liza’s story ends,” she says. “I know finales are so hard, but I felt like Darren nailed it. I personally found the end so satisfying and felt like it remained true to the show.”
Star says the decision to wrap the show came from the creative team (“Liza’s journey, in terms of what she wanted to do, was coming to an end,” he explains), but he admits he didn’t have a specific finale in mind the entire time.
For both Liza and Kelsey (Hilary Duff), the writers wanted to ensure that both characters were able to realize the dreams that they set out to accomplish over the past six years before getting to that finale, Star says.
The on-screen duo became best friends after meeting at Empirical, the publishing house where they both have worked throughout the course of the series, and Duff’s Kelsey, specifically, has had an impressive journey as a young staffer to the rising star of the company. Of course, the ladies have had their fair share of out-of-work antics, ranging from many drunken nights to many mishaps with men.
“They both take a lot of unexpected turns,” Star says of Liza and Kelsey. “They’re both characters that make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. They are such examples of women I’d love to spend time with — smart, strong women who really have a lot of self determination in their lives.”
That female-fronted energy made “Younger” a critical favorite from the moment it debuted and also helped propel the show to become TV Land’s longest-running original scripted series. The half-hour comedy will air its final season on that cable network later in the year, after first streaming on ViacomCBS streamer Paramount Plus.
Star, who also created “Sex and the City,” “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Emily In Paris,” is known for writing from the female perspective, but as times evolved, so have his characters.
“Sex and the City” was known for showcasing iconic strong female friendships and independent women on HBO, long before those dynamics were widely shown on television. Those themes carried through on “Younger,” which has also been applauded for highlighting career dreams over romantic dreams, as the series is set in the workplace and revolves around the ups-and-downs of Liza and Kelsey’s work as book publishers.
The final 12 episodes will be mostly missing two main characters, Diana (Miriam Shor) and Zane (Charles Michael Davis), who only briefly appear in the season. The actors’ absence is solely due to COVID-19 complications. “Younger” was one of the first shows to go back into production last fall, in the height of the pandemic, and like the rest of the industry, the shooting schedule was turned completely upside down.
A global pandemic — in the middle of New York City winter, none the less — wasn’t the only complication production had to face, though: The show also chose to conceal Duff’s real-life pregnancy, rather than write it into Kelsey’s storyline. (Duff recently gave birth to a baby girl and is now proudly a mother of three.)
“Hilary was amazing. She was a trooper, beyond. I’m sure it was not comfortable,” Star says, explaining that her pregnancy was hidden simply through wardrobe and blocking. “I remember Hilary told me on the set that they would give her things to hold in front of her, but it got to the point where her arms weren’t long enough to always hold something.”
Star is currently developing a spinoff for Duff’s character, which would revolve around Kelsey and be set in Los Angeles, rather than New York, where “Younger” is based. He describes the show as the female “Entourage,” and says it will be set in a completely new world with all new characters, aside from Duff’s.
This spinoff is still in the early stages and is not yet a go, but Star is focusing on it and the second season of “Emily in Paris” for Netflix, and is not involved in the HBO Max revival of “Sex and the City.”
“Those are three amazing characters, and life goes on and life will continue,” Star says of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. “I think there are going to be wonderful stories for the characters that we see. I’m looking forward to it.”
Only time will tell if the world of “Younger” gets to continue onto a new series, but Foster, who admits she is already “mourning the loss” of the show, has another idea for the future.
“I am aware of how special this experience was and I’m so grateful — and I also feel grateful that we were given the opportunity to end our show,” she says.
Writing her final thoughts via email, complete with a wink emoticon, Foster adds, “Who knows? Maybe we’ll do a movie.”
“Younger’s” final season premieres April 15 on Paramount Plus.