- “Younger” aired its series finale on Wednesday.
- Many fans, this writer included, were disappointed in how things wrapped up.
- One particular pain point was how the Josh/Liza/Charles love triangle ended up.
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Warning: Spoilers below for the series finale of “Younger.”
After seven seasons of strong female friendships, love triangles, secrets, more love triangles, publishing shenanigans, and yet another visit to that same big love triangle, “Younger” took its final bow Wednesday night, giving Liza and Co. a sendoff that unfortunately left many longtime viewers (myself included) feeling unsatisfied.
The culmination of the long-running series, which starred Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff among a beloved ensemble cast, was a strangely concocted sequence of events that had little celebration of the characters we’ve invested in over the last seven seasons.
Instead, it wasted far too much time on plots with no merit and positioned characters we loved to make decisions that made absolutely no sense. Even more disappointing was the fact that the series couldn’t even stick a good, nostalgic landing because it all felt like an afterthought, rather than the completion of well-conceived circle.
It’s hard to choose what moment of the ‘Younger’ finale left me scratching my head most
Was it the totally unnecessary (and frankly, super cringey) “Scamalot” musical plotline, where Liza was compared to Bernie Madoff?
Or Lauren’s entire story with Max?
Maybe it was Maggie suddenly making out with the woman who was canceling her just two episodes ago.
Mostly it was the fact that so much time was devoted to all of these things, leaving Josh absent for the majority of the episode – only to pop back in at the end in a big, but ultimately unsatisfying, way.
But more on that in a bit. First, while we’re on the topic of people missing during this finale, where was any mention of the glorious Diana Trout (Miriam Shor)?
Apparently, she didn’t merit even a single line in passing. Personally, I’d have loved a final Zoom pep talk between Liza, Kelsey, and Diana, and while I can accept that we can’t always get what we want and understand the given reason that “scheduling and COVID-related matters” led to Shor’s relative absence this season, I can’t accept her being completely unaccounted for in the end.
The “Younger” finale won’t be remembered for these things, though. The legacy it’ll leave behind, which will undoubtedly be debated with the same fervor as the widely-criticized ending of “How I Met Your Mother,” is the fair-weather conclusion to the ongoing Team Charles vs. Team Josh debate.
Let’s be clear: There are no real winners here in the resolution of the big ‘Younger’ love triangle
If you wore a “Team Charles” badge of honor, you’d already been witness to the slow decline of his character’s charm and appeal, and you were scratching your head way back when he declined Liza proposal of being together without being married.
When Charles suddenly gave in to his lack of trust for Liza and used it to “test” her, he officially lost our support. In fact, his actions only proved that he and Quinn may have been just right for each other.
For those who proudly wore “Team Josh” across their chests, the grass wasn’t exactly greener, despite what those last sixty seconds of the series would lead you to believe.
Does Josh end up as the ultimate winner? That’s debatable, considering he had the least amount of screen time this season, a complete lack of character arc, and only a brief line about his success as a landlord.
For a character who’s loomed so large over Liza and Charles’s potential happily-ever-after, and the man who proclaims to Liza that he’s “been right here…all along,” Josh wasn’t a factor in their final downfall – and let’s be honest, he wasn’t a factor this season.
The biggest disservice to reuniting Josh and Liza so quickly and clumsily in the last moment of the series is that we didn’t even have time to remember that the characters were recreating the scene in which they met. Some, like me, may have briefly recalled the moment they met as one where Liza waves her shoe at the bartender, therefore filling in the blanks that Josh and Liza were coming full circle in the finale.
But many other viewers may have been so many years removed from that moment in the pilot that it didn’t even strike them as a nostalgic reunion scene, which is what I assume that entire moment was hinged on. It needed to land in order for it to be effective; alas, it wasn’t given the beat it needed to breath.
As an audience, we haven’t been invested in Liza and Josh in years, and this entire season was devoted to Liza and Charles’s strained relationship. Why would Josh and Liza’s first meeting even be on our radar? The element of surprise was there, but without any buildup to it at all, it just wasn’t enough.
We needed at least one reminder of why we swooned over Josh and Liza so long ago.
One bright(er?) spot in the otherwise disappointing hour was Kelsey’s ultimate resting place, as the only character whose storyline seemed to come to a complete conclusion.
Hilary Duff’s character may not be getting her spin-off, but she left New York and Empirical, where she’s been sorely underappreciated, for Los Angeles and Reese Witherspoon, who value her fresh voice and ideas for the future of publishing, and apparently always have. (We’re supposed to remember that Hello Sunshine worked with her before – yet another unmemorable call-back!)
‘Younger’ would have done better to focus on celebrating its strong female friendships in the series finale
Imagine what those final moments of the series could have been, instead of what we actually got, and how they could have kept the original spirit of “Younger” alive.
Liza, Kelsey, Maggie, and Lauren, around the table, celebrating each other’s successes. The ladies who’ve been the only consistent relationship for the entirety of the series. Ladies who’ve achieved success, despite every obstacle thrown at them.
Let that moment be for them. And Diana, on an iPad or something, right there with them. Fade out on that.
“Younger” was once a series with characters we loved to root for and a fresh story unlike anything else on television. I wish I had the same level of enthusiasm and nostalgia for what it once was, as that was what the writers were clearly banking on in order for the ending to feel satisfying.