'Younger' Season 6 Review- Women Helping Women
The season 6 finale of TV Land’s Younger aired last night and it was everything you’d expect from a Younger finale: break-ups, make-ups, and the continuation of a never-ending love triangle. In addition to the show’s nail-biting, ever-changing romantic relationship drama, another refreshing and overlooked storyline has started to gain some traction- the show’s female characters and their ability to break free from sexist perceptions all while forging a female comradery on their way to the top.
This season, the women have been making some boss moves, especially Kelsey (played by Hillary Duff, aka my woman crush forever), and the female characters have uplifted each other along the way, proving there’s room for more than one capable woman at the top. When Kelsey becomes publisher of the company at the ripe age of 26, Liza, Diana, and Lauren (who Kelsey immediately hires as the company’s publicist) rise right along with her.
Women lifting each other up isn’t anything new for the show; if it weren’t for Maggie giving Liza a place to stay, Diana taking a chance hiring her as an assistant, and Kelsey asking her to be her partner for her original imprint, Liza would be back in New Jersey attending book club meetings every week. All of these women come from different ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientations, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all ambitious women fighting their way to the top of their careers.
Despite her indelible success, Kelsey still has to prove herself and endure the negative perceptions of men to further her career. When she meets with investors, along with Charles to attain funding for the company, the all-male group decided who was in charge before she could even open her mouth to speak. They viewed her as a young, inexperienced millennial who probably couldn’t do as good of a job as a confident middle aged white man (i.e Charles) and when she made the mistake of posting an inappropriate video on instagram, they immediately took the opportunity to strong-arm her into releasing her title as head of the company to someone they viewed as more responsible and capable.
In the very next episode titled “Shero” Kelsey talks to young girls about how one minor mistake as a young woman trying to prove herself caused her to lose nearly everything she worked for. She can’t afford to make a mistake because as soon as she does, everyone’s assumptions become more validated and her accomplishments are forgotten. No one can deny that her bubbly personality can switch to party girl real quick, but she’s also driven and ambitious and accomplishes her goal of becoming an owner at 26. Too often, women are forced into boxes, but characters like Liza, Kelsey, Lauren, Maggie, and even Diana break that mold.
Liza is a 40 year-old mother but she still came back to work as an assistant and rose in rank. Was lying about her age wrong? By most standards, yes. But with so many obstacles working against women in the workplace, her loophole out of ageism created an opportunity for reinvention and forced people to see past her age and recognize her talent. Even Lauren, who can come off ass crazy and unstable is still an ambitious publicist who is passionate about her job. Then, there’s Maggie, a proud 40 something lesbian artist who is financially stable (perhaps the biggest paradox of all the women). Even Diana, who starts out as a typical lonely, bitter career woman trope is given an authentic story line and a social life outside of work, rejecting the box that another show might have placed her in. Like all women, they are multidimensional and flawed, but still hard-working and deserving of success.
In my eyes Darren Star, creator of Younger, as well as other extremely successful shows like Beverly Hills 90210, Sex And The City, and Melrose Place, can do very little wrong. However, when evaluating the way women are portrayed in television, it’s essential to remember that white women should not be the sole representation for successful, nuanced career women. According to San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s annual report, representation for women in tv is on the up and up as the percentage of women on screen in television has risen from 40 percent to 45 percent; however, these numbers don’t tell the full story considering white women comprise 64 percent of those roles.
Women of color on-screen in Star’s shows is not common unfortunately, and a victory for only white women is not a victory for all women. As a show that approaches ageism, sexism, and queer topics in a tasteful way, it is frustrating that women of color are MIA in Younger. Being a fan of this highly addictive show (honestly, watch at your own risk) and a loyal Darren Star fan, I hope to see more inclusion in future projects so I can fangirl over bomb female characters of all ages, sexual orientations, and ethnicities.