Younger: S04E09 “The Incident at Pound Ridge”

For those who don’t know, Younger is one of the bubbliest, most upbeat shows currently on television. On the face of it, the idea of a 40-year-old woman pretending to be a 26-year-old to find work sounds slightly embarrassing, as if decades of feminism haven’t gone by since women were hired based on their looks. But the show is actually a charming, sweet, and surprisingly intelligent comedy about personal reinvention while being true to yourself. It’s also maintained its balance of lightness and wit remarkably well over four seasons. Basically, it’s the show The Good Wife would have been had Alicia Florrick ditched her husband and moved to Brooklyn to drink rose.

First, the announcement that by law must precede all discussion of a Sutton Foster show: SUTTON FOSTER IS A NATIONAL TREASURE.

This week’s episode opens with Josh and his new Irish bartender girlfriend. I was a bit skeptical of Clare when she was introduced last week, but the opening scene goes a surprisingly long way towards making their relationship feel sweet and laid-back. At the risk of sounding like the failing New York Times, Clarejo…Joshclar…Clare/Josh is kind of turning into the bubble tea of this show.

Next up, adult coloring books! Part of Younger’s charm is how on-point (on fleek? en fleeke?) it is with actual millennial trends. Even better, it manages to engage with them way more pleasantly than Girls’s “ugh, young people, let us depict the worst of our generation” affectation. And the coloring book trend has been, as the episode notes, surprisingly huge. I recently ran to an office supply store for some printer ink and saw a whole stand of coloring books on display, including one with white lines on a black background that was meant to be colored with highlighters, which were conveniently on sale right next to it. (I definitely bought it.) I’ve even seen them on sale at the farmer’s market. The only thing that confuses me about their meeting is how quickly they dismiss the idea of a cannabis-themed coloring book. Much like how Kelsey had to be blackmailed into accepting the idea of a “thoughts from your dog” book, or how all of Empirical joined in to stop L.L. Moore from revealing his role in writing a porn sensation, it’s a little baffling that the writers are so reluctant to admit when something superficially ridiculous would be a social media sensation.

But then, there’s Diana Trout, who deserves to be a social media sensation all by herself. Diana, you sly fox, look at you using your administrative skills as a pretext to figure out Charles and Pauline’s relationship status. Ever since Diana started getting laid, she’s become one of my favorite characters. I’m really looking forward to her evicting that Fleshlight kid.

Who is Charles’s Wolf of Wall Street friend? Couldn’t they get Aasif Mandvi and his swaggering expression back?

It’s impressive how the writers have managed to make the inevitable pivot from Josh to Charles feel organic. I assume Younger didn’t mean to have Liza/Josh go on so long, but I also accept that they may have been so blinded by Sutton Foster’s national-treasure-ness that they missed how stupid sexy Nico Tortorella is. By the end of season 3, I thought they might be heading for a How I Met Your Mother-type situation. But they’ve made it work! And it got us Nico Tortorella sticking his junk in a carton of yogurt and that was hilarious! (Jalapeno dick: possibly the most millennial problem outside of Broad City.) See, The Good Wife, this is how you make the sexual use of dairy products work.

But now there’s this love triangle with Pauline, Liza, and Charles. If this season has a flaw, this is it. We don’t know yet how this will get resolved, and Younger has earned the benefit of the doubt, but…why did Liza ever think editing Pauline was a good idea? Usually she’s much more sensible. And why is this the first time anyone has pointed out to Liza that Charles is HER BOSS? Or, an even better question, how has no one pointed out to Charles that he’s getting involved with his twenty-years-younger (he thinks) assistant, which is obviously a PR disaster in the making? I’m clearly not drinking enough frosé while watching this.

That being said, I know Liza (presumably temporarily) breaking up with Charles was the big plot development this episode, but I’m still not completely sure where that came from. Okay, Josh punched him, but she already knew Josh was angry about that whole situation. And she broke up with him before her conversation with Kelsey. As far as I can tell, the show just seems to have an unofficial rule of conservation of relationships: only one main character can be in a stable, happy relationship at any given time. For a while it was Liza/Josh, while Kelsey was unhappily with Thad and Lauren and Maggie were noisily single. Then for a while it shifted to Lauren and Maggie, or Lauren and boring-Jewish-doctor. Now it’s Josh and Clare. I wonder who’ll be next? I hope Kelsey gets something good, she deserves it after Thad and that asshole New Yorker writer and *shudder* Zane.

Sidenote: I wish I knew enough about music to appreciate the soundtrack better. The songs are always perfectly chosen for the show’s young, upbeat, hipster vibe, so I assume they are from hipster-famous groups that I haven’t heard of yet. Do any of you know more?

Stray observations:
– “I stepped in horse poop just so I’d have something to do.”
– As a:
1. millennial woman
2. who owns roughly four hundred adult coloring books
3. and currently favors the one with designs of flower tattoos,
this episode was pretty much tailor-made for me.
– “Yes, your generation continues to elevate the culture.” Look, Diana, I don’t judge you for your beads. Just let us have this.
– “I can honestly say I did not eat your yogurt.”
– “You set him up with a girl and a job? Later we have to have a talk about how not to be a doormat.”
– “Genius!” “Well, it’s just basic bribery, but you know, it works.”
– “Nothing has ever happened between me and Charles. I mean, there’s been tension, naturally…” Never change, Diana.
– Meanwhile, on this week’s episode of Kelsey’s Life As An Editor, her huge new client Lachlan has a jealous wife. This doesn’t get picked up again this episode, so I bet it’s coming back next week.