TV Land's Younger returns to prime time tonight for its second season and if you haven't seen it yet, you should. Younger is easily one of the most unabashedly feminist shows on television today. Produced by Darren Star (Sex And The City), the show follows Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a 40-year-old woman who re-enters the workforce after 15 years when she separates from her husband. What she encounters during job interviews is a culture that values feminine youth while casually demeaning and disregarding Miller due to her age. In pursuit of her dreams of returning to the world of book publishing, Miller decides to lie about her age, allowing employers to believe she is actually only 26. Liza flourishes in her new job, making friends and even gaining a younger boyfriend to boot.
The idea of ageism in the workplace is not a new one; hiring managers aren't even supposed to ask the age of an applicant anymore. But just because they can't ask, doesn't mean they can't still discriminate. From personal experience, I once had a manager who referred to me in the context of a promotion as "no Spring chicken" because I was a woman in my 30's. Needless to say, I no longer work for that manager. And in Hollywood, the problem is rampant for women. Last year, the public seemed genuinely surprised when Academy Award winning actress Anne Hathaway spoke about having difficulty getting roles at the ripe old age of 32. We see examples in film every day as men get older and their love interests get younger. And actresses in their 20's play middle-aged women or roles are simply changed to accommodate the 20-year-old actress.
Younger isn't afraid to tackle that issue head-on and it opens up the larger discussion of ageism with quick-witted writing, sharp comedy and characters to root for. Liza Miller knows what she wants to do with her life and she is willing to do what it takes to get there. Her actions are less about giving in to the discrimination and more a reflection of what women must do in pursuit of their dreams.
The women of Younger are all intelligent, strong, fierce creatures who love and support each other. And unlike many movies and television shows, Younger not only passes the Bechdel Test, but kicks the ever-living crap out of it. None of the women in Younger hang their existence on a man. And where they do, of course, have dating woes - their lives are not centered around the male characters. In fact, the existence of the male characters of Younger depend solely upon the female characters.
To say it's refreshing to see a show anchored so heavily by strong women is an understatement. Sutton Foster, who is 40 herself, leads the charge, showing the world the beauty and vivaciousness of a 40-year-old woman. And maybe one day, we won't have to praise Hollywood for casting a woman who is 40 to play 40.
Younger returns to TV Land tonight at 10 PM and you can catch all of season one at TVLand.com.