Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday’s season five finale of Younger.
Is this the happy ending Liza wanted?
On Tuesday’s season finale of Younger, wittily titled “Lizability,” Liza (Sutton Foster) found herself in a position she’s never been in before — and there are more questions than answers about what this means. After a season of closed-door make-out sessions, Liza and Charles (Peter Hermann) decided to go public with their secret relationship, walking hand-in-hand after he was demoted to a figurehead position at Empirical, with Liza’s Millennial partner, Kelsey (Hilary Duff), replacing him as publisher. But how they got to that point was messy. After Liza reneged on an enticing job offer to run her imprint, wild card Cheryl Sussman (Martha Plimpton) leaked a damaging blind item to a New York gossip rag revealing a torrid affair between an unnamed powerful publishing head and a lowly assistant — all of which forced Charles to step down.
Like we said: messy.
“This has been my favorite season so far, and a lot of that has to do with the scenes and stuff that’s happened between Liza and Charles. I feel like this is the season where Liza got more real and grew up a little bit and owned her power,” Foster tells ET of season five. “Liza and Charles have always been and how we dealt with that in the beginning of the season drawn to each other; there’s always been something going on. And this season, that was shown in a new light with the #MeToo movement. I do think that you’ve been watching two people fall in love with each other, until you excuse the perimeter of which that dynamic has been established. How we leave this season is, in a way, we’re taking away that power dynamic and now what? Now what do we have?”
To get to the bottom of what the events from the Younger finale mean for Liza and Charles’ future as a real couple, Josh’s shocking baby bombshell and more (Zane ditching Empirical! Kelsey as Liza’s new boss!), ET jumped on the phone with Foster and creator Darren Star to get the lowdown on how every big finale development affects the upcoming sixth season.
1. Liza and Charles are finally together (for real this time), but the ending leaves much to be desired for their future.
For most of the season, Liza and Charles kept their affair a secret, but after a confluence of events pushes Charles out as publisher of Empirical, they decided to give their romance a go with the ultimate test: going public with their relationship. The final scene started off with the pair hopeful as they walk hand-in-hand happily thinking of their future together. But the fantasy begins wearing off almost immediately, when Liza and Charles both realize that this may be trickier than they thought, as their expressions go from giddy excitement to extreme uncertainty.
“Liza and Charles are together, but it’s also like, this isn’t the fantasy anymore, it’s the reality,” Foster says, breaking down the final scene. “I feel like, in many ways, they have had this fantasy romance and now it’s going to be really real. What does that mean? Does it work? Do they work? That’s what the last scene of the season means, like, ‘Oh, f*ck! This isn’t what we wanted!’ It’s seemingly everything good but nothing is right. It isn’t the dream that they thought it was going to be. They’re not walking off into the sunset.”
“The complication for Liza and Charles was always the fact that it was built on an illusion, so this is about what happens when the fantasy is gone and the reality of who these two people are intrudes. It’s not as perfect as the idea — Charles and Liza were characters who were projecting onto each other,” Star tells ET, breaking down that moment. “It just suddenly got real and no relationship is perfect and they’re basically thinking, ‘OK…’ There’s always going to be compromises and sacrifices. They’re each at that moment reflecting on where they are.”
Foster revealed that the season-ending scene was one of the first she and Hermann filmed for the episode, shooting Liza and Charles’ walk about “three or four times.”
“What I love about that last moment was that it is very subtle. It also felt very real. There are so many times where I’ve had moments like that, where you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing!’ and then you’re like, ‘Wait a minute….’ It is the ‘Wait a minute’ moment,” Foster says. “I think people will have lots of thoughts and feelings about that last moment and what it means. That’s the whole moment. It’s not a definitive thing. It’s doubt, it’s worry, it’s reality; it’s all of those complicated emotions.”
The repercussions of their decision will be a major theme for the new season. “Are we going to see Charles in the townhouse in his boxer shorts hanging out in his pajamas while Liza goes to work? How is that dynamic going to affect their relationship? It’ll be interesting,” Foster says. Adds Star, “I feel like it’s going to create a lot of complications. Liza is getting so much what she wants, in terms of professionally. Charles was put into, for the moment, a nowhere situation because he needed to accept that investment. Season six is basically, let’s see how this unfolds. The dynamic is going to be different.”
2. Is Claire pregnant with Josh’s baby?
Josh (Nico Tortorella) seemed to finally have his foot on solid ground, with his newly refurbished tattoo parlor and a new lease on life. But that all came crashing down when a very pregnant Claire, his estranged wife he married in Ireland at the end of season four, appears at his front door with a growing baby bump. Talk about a shocker!
“It’s something we thought about all season. It’s going to create a lot of complications for Josh and I think it’s going to bring Liza very much into Josh’s orbit,” Star says, adding that the baby’s paternity — whether it’s Josh’s baby — “will be raised.”
“I remember talking to the writers about it and even they were on the fence, back and forth, about what that would be and then they told me and then I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! Are you serious?!'” Foster says. “I’m super curious how this baby will play out, the return of Claire and what that means. I have no idea!”
3. What is Kelsey like as the boss?
With Charles stepping down as the publisher of Empirical, Kelsey was tapped to run the whole company, a shocking move that caught Liza and company by surprise. As Star explains it, while Kelsey is qualified to step into the power position, the transition from co-editor of the Millennial imprint to leading an entire publishing company may be a tall task for the young, brilliant editor.
“Kelsey’s really, really ambitious. There’s an interesting story to tell about a woman, any young person, who sometimes their ambition gets ahead of their maturity. I think that’s one thing that Kelsey’s going to have to do deal with. She’s still young. She’s really smart, really ambitious, really talented, but she’s stepping into something that she may not be completely ready for,” Star says.
4. What new job did Zane get?
Zane (Charles Michael Davis) caught Kelsey by surprise when he was seen with his box of belongings getting onto the elevator. Star confirms that Davis is very much still in the fabric of Younger in the upcoming season, it’s just that he’ll be working at another company. “Zane is coming back,” Star reassures ET, adding that he doesn’t believe Zane would fare very well working under a former fling in Kelsey. “Everyone doesn’t have to work at the same office to be on the show. He’s still in the same business.”
But which company? One possible landing place for Zane is Chicky, the imprint Cheryl Sussman almost poached Liza for. “That’s very possible,” Star says coyly. Leading us to our next lingering question…
5. Should we be worried about Cheryl Sussman’s looming threat?
Now that Liza tops Cheryl’s “sh*t list,” there is a very real possibility that Liza’s secret could be outed at any time — and at the worst time.
“We’ll see. I don’t trust Cheryl Sussman at all. But what was interesting about the last couple of episodes was Liza was trying to do the right thing for everybody. That’s what’s so hard about what ended up [happening]. Liza was willing to sacrifice, to leave the company, to work with this woman, she was trying to do the right thing and then it all fell on Charles, which is the last person you’d expect,” Foster says.
“When we come back for season six, it will no longer be Empirical, it’ll be Millennial in the offices. It’s going to be a totally different world for all of us. Liza came out of this situation, in terms of career-wise, great, and so did Kelsey, and it’s Charles who got the short stick,” she adds.
6. How come Diana still doesn’t know the truth about Liza’s age?
While there is no plan to have Diana find out about Liza’s 40-something status, there’s something comedic (and alarming) about Diana being one of the very few people in Liza’s orbit to actually know the truth about her age.
“It would definitely will rock her world. Not sure when or how that will happen, but I feel that the way people can get away with lies that Liza did is a character like Diana, her world is about her. She’s really not thinking too deeply about Liza, even though they’re close and she leans on Liza a lot, she’s thinking about Diana,” Star says. That said, expect more romance for Diana in the new season with Enzo. “She really balances him out and he really balances her out,” he says.
Younger returns for season six in 2019.