Younger, created by Emmy-winning hitmaker Darren Star (Sex and the City, Beverly Hills 90210, Emily in Paris), returns to our screens this week with the highly bingeable first four episodes of the seventh—and sadly final—season premiering on Paramount+ on Thursday April 15th, with new episodes dropping subsequent Thursdays.
As the season opens the stakes have been raised in the will-they-won’t-they romantic saga with Charles (Peter Hermann) having popped the question to Liza (Sutton Foster). Although she does not doubt her love for the man, she nevertheless needs some time to consider whether she wants to be married again, which is complicated by the fact that Charles is rigid in his all-or-nothing desire to tie the knot. In fact his attitude occasionally puts into question whether we want to see the pair end up together at all. Meanwhile, having found her happily ever after with Enzo, Diana (Miriam Shor) decides to extend her honeymoon in Italy and leaves Lauren (Molly Bernard) to answer her office phone, though she soon inserts herself into a far more active role at Empirical, inviting herself along to every meeting, helping to fill the season’s Diana shaped hole with her quirky energy and left-field one-liners.
With Kelsey (Hilary Duff) back working with Liza, the pair are blindsided by the board’s decision to merge their successful Millennial imprint with the main publishing brand. Effectively demoted and stripped of any meaningful decision-making power, the women come up with an innovative plan to discover untapped talent too good for Charles to turn down, founding a hip literary salon hosted at Josh’s Brooklyn tattoo studio. Straining things further at Empirical, Liza’s nemesis, all-round untrustworthy billionaire, and failed political candidate, Quinn (Laura Benanti, who brings light and shade to character), finds her way back into all their lives when she decides to write a book about turning failure into success, and immediately appears to have her sights set on Charles.
There are some great storylines for Maggie this season (beautifully played as ever by Debi Mazar) including her winding up with a teaching job at a university only to find herself getting cancelled on social media ahead of a big solo art show. Among the great guest stars there’s a memorable multi-episode turn from Janeane Garofalo on fine form as an old friend of Maggie’s who comes back into her life. While the fabulous Michael Urie drops in to steal some scenes as the delightfully quick-witted literary agent Redmond.
Sharing childcare duties with Clare (Phoebe Dynevor), Josh has to navigate the right time to tell a new love interest that he’s a father. While Liza and Josh seem to have finally settled into just good friends territory, without that love triangle dynamic of the earlier seasons Josh feels a little sidelined at times in terms of storylines, but Nico Tortorella continues to bring their adorable laid-back charm to every scene.
Away from the office, Kelsey finds herself comforting Clare when she breaks up with a wealthy property developer, only to find herself reluctantly falling for the same man herself—with Charles Michael Davis’s Zane absent this season—and a search to buy an apartment sees her land a brief stint on a real estate reality TV show, giving Duff an opportunity to display her comedy chops.
With much of the tension and intrigue of the previous six seasons coming from Liza’s attempt to keep the lie about her age a secret, it’s satisfying to see her life free of that dilemma and the series evolve beyond its initial central premise. Instead, Liza’s relationship with Charles, both personal and professional, is at the heart of the final season and although it takes a couple episodes to really get into its stride, as the plot thickens things are soon back on track with that distinctive mix of workplace drama, surprisingly adult humour, and page-turner storylines; it’s reliably feel good TV from start to finish, with a depth that’s helped to make the show a hit. Sutton Foster brings a natural, adorably goofy vulnerability and intelligence to Liza and once again she’s the fallible, unpredictable emotional core of the show, and her friendship with Kelsey (Duff as captivating and appealing as ever in the role), is just as important as who she might end up with in her love life.
Throughout the series there’s been a great balance in the writing that, refreshingly, has allowed all the characters to exist beyond their romantic relationships, defined as much by their careers as anything else. Along the way there have been plenty of fun episodes involving Kelsey and Liza dealing with writers that reflect heightened or comedy versions of real world figures, such as the Greta Thunberg-inspired Füpa Grünhof this season, that help to make the show feel current. One of the narrative reasons for the series keeping its finger on the millennial pulse was to highlight Liza’s real age as she struggled to get up to speed with social media and the latests trends, but one result is that the show has felt effortlessly of the moment.
As an iconic New York series, with its dynamic establishing shots and location shoots in Manhattan, Brooklyn and upstate, there’s an added sense of escapism watching this season with the city in a non-pandemic state (not a mask or hand sanitizer dispenser in sight) making it even more pleasurable to get lost in. With Diana out of the picture, costume designer Jacqueline Demeterio ups the glamour stakes for all the remaining leading ladies. There’s definitely no dress-down Friday at the Empirical office with Liza, Kesley, and Lauren all showing up to the office, work functions, and parties to dazzle—their water cooler moments are Paris runway ready—but although the fashion has been elevated and is often a feast for the eyes, the costumes never distract or feel out of character.
Younger has consistently delivered some of TV’s best LGBTQ+ characters in recent years, breaking new ground for a mainstream show with the pansexual Lauren, portrayed by queer actor Molly Bernard, a role that has never been defined by her sexuality. While, similarly Maggie’s warmth and wisdom, along with her art career, lively love life, and friendship with Liza have been the focus of the show’s writers, not simply the fact that she happens to be a lesbian, something that’s continued with recurring guest stars like Redmond. Off-screen, breakout star Nico Tortorella has opened up meaningful conversations in the media around queerness, gender identity, and polyamory, often expanding people’s understanding of those labels.
As we say goodbye to Younger there’s already talk about a spinoff series centred around Kelsey set in Los Angeles, and in fact there’s potential for all of these well-drawn and lovable characters to star in their own shows.
By James Kleinmann
The seventh and final season of “Younger” will premiere Thursday April 15th on Paramount+. The first four episodes will be available to stream at premiere, with the remaining eight episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays. All six seasons of Younger are currently available to binge on Paramount+.
Younger | Season 7 Official Trailer | Paramount+