Sundi Rose
March 31, 2015 2:54 pm

Age. It’s a big deal to women (to everybody, really). When we’re 16 we want to be 18, and when we’re 18 we want to be 21, and when we’re 25, we want to be 25 forever.

TVLand’s new scripted comedy,Younger (which premieres tonight), is tackling our age hangups and doing so in a really smart way. The show raises a whole lot of growing up (or old) questions and asks us to examine ourselves from every age — our bodies, our relationships, our careers, our politics. The show, while clever, quick and stylish, is joining the conversation about how we women connect to our particular chronological number, and we like what it’s saying.

Sutton Foster, two-time Tony winner (and previous star of the beloved ABCFamily gem Bunheads) is Liza, a recently single, 40-something looking to return to work after divorcing a deadbeat gambler who cheated on her with a blackjack dealer — and lost their daughter’s college fund in the process.

After a few failed interviews, a pretty steamy encounter with a hot young tattoo artist (Nico Tortorella ofThe Following), and some encouragement from long-time friend Maggie (Debi Mazar, hello Entourage) Liza decides to try again, only this time acting as a 26-year old version of herself.

All of a sudden, Liza (acting 26) finds herself with a new job, a gorgeous young boyfriend, and a whole new beginning. With just a few highlights, thigh-high socks, and a Twitter account, Liza is transformed — and gets a big dose of self confidence in the process.

Even though Liza is passing for 26, her body doesn’t totally get the message. For instance, she begins to worry about her “cleavage wrinkle,” and is forced into extreme waxing following a disturbing encounter with a younger friend in the lady’s locker room. The friend literally shouts out in shock when she gets a look at her “Wisconsin,” as she calls it — highlighting the generational gap in grooming habits.

After this moment, Liza has to consult her long-time friend Maggie about what’s on-trend for lady bits these days. When she finds out that “no one under 25 looks like they are over 12,” it’s a reminder of how arbitrary beauty rules really are. What seems really important to the 25 year old, seems bizarrely torturous to the 40 year old.

At her new job Liza works alongside ambitious, go-getter Kelsey, played by Lizzie McGuire herself, Hilary Duff, and the two become instant friends. In a refreshing new dynamic, the women aren’t in competition with each other, but rather choose to be supportive of one another’s professional efforts. In fact, Liza is forced to turn to Kelsey as a professional mentor.

Kelsey, on the other hand, doesn’t have the foresight to accept Liza’s advice about her jerky boyfriend, Thad. She perceives Liza’s advice as judgment, a direct commentary on the insecurity that comes with being young. Thanks to her years, Liza has enough experience to understand how destructive a bad relationship can be, but Kelsey isn’t there yet.

By and large though, the traditional social politics of a female relationship between two women of such differing ages is thrown out, making the relationship between Kelsey and Liza seem all the more authentic. Without rules demanding they treat each other a particular way, they are free to explore their friendship how they see fit.

The idea of “acting your age” is a fluid concept on Younger, and one that can be examined in our own lives. Destructive advice like, “act your age” or “you’re too old/young to do blank,” is thrown out the window in this new show. Ultimately, it’s a show about age that proves how useless defining yourself by a number really is.

If there is a thesis statement in TVLand’s Younger, it’s that you can do anything you want, anytime you want. Conforming to the perceptions of age-related conventions is becoming more and more antiquated. Younger is saying that age really is, in fact, just a number, and that’s a message more women need to hear.

You can watch the first episode here, or watch the first episode tonight (Tuesday) at 10 p.m. on TVLand.

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