TV Land may not usually be known for its strong original programming, but the network is stepping up its game with the trendier and more ambitious new comedy, Younger. Slated to premiere on Tuesday, the show, which features a star-studded ensemble cast, including Bunheads’ Sutton Foster, Entourage’s Debi Mazar, and Hilary Duff, is already getting an impressively positive response from critics.
Based on the novel of the same name by Pamela Redmond Satran, Younger chronicles the story of Liza Miller (Foster), a 40-year-old whose life gets turned upside down when her husband gambles away all their money. With her marriage falling apart and her daughter studying abroad, Liza is left to fend for herself. As she desperately tries to get back into the world of publishing after years, she’s rejected from jobs meant for recent college grads. Eventually, her best friend Maggie (Mazar) convinces her to lie about her age. Posing as a 26-year-old, she lands an assistant’s position at a book publisher, where she befriends a junior editor, Kelsey (Duff) and must deal with a condescending boss, Diana (Miriam Shor).
Reinventing yourself after the dissolution of a relationship isn’t exactly a new concept and the idea of a 40-year-old passing off as someone over a decade younger sounds questionable. But Younger manages to pull it off and makes it feel fresh, thanks to strong writing from creator Darren Star, the same man behind Sex and the City. While the two New York City-set shows may boast entirely different premises, they use similar wit to tackle some of the same themes – including the generational rifts and gender pressures that most women face at some point in their lives.
Like Carrie Bradshaw before her, Liza is technically inept and has to work to keep up with the 20-something’s lingo. To pull off her scheme, she memorizes the members of One Direction, and searches the web to find out how to create a Twitter account. She also has her fair share of slip-ups, referencing Punky Brewster (only to get blank stares) and revealing – to the horror of her younger co-workers — that she doesn’t get regular bikini waxes.
As can be expected from the premise, the show does get into cliché territory every now and then. Some of the younger characters (like Kelsey’s boyfriend, Thad) are ridiculously flaky, while some of the older ones (like Liza’s boss, Diana) are way too scolding. But as Variety describes, “The series seldom pitches so far across those lines as to be unable to find its way back.”
It helps that Foster can bring charm to every scenario, making Liza likable and relatable. As the AV Club puts it, the actress “deftly switches between slapstick comedy, wordplay, and moments of thoughtful introspection, and maintains a vital air of mischief throughout.” The Hollywood Reporter adds, “The cast, and Star’s breezy but never dumb writing, makes Younger an entertaining half-hour comedy that feels far more mature than most rookies out there.”
Between Foster’s impressive performance, her chemistry with co-stars Duff and Mazar, and the easy humor, critics seem to agree that Younger not only marks a welcome shift for TV Land, but an overall promising new comedy with long-term potential.
Younger airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land, starting March 31.