8 Life Lessons from TVLand’s “Younger”

  • Copy by: Alaina Kaczmarski

Did you watch and quickly become addicted to Younger when it aired on TVland last winter?… Then told all of your friends about it and even sucked your boyfriend into watching it because he agreed it’s really funny and smart? Yea, me too.

If you didn’t, I suggest you start before the season 2 premiere debuts next Wednesday, January 13. 

The premise is brilliant: 40-year-old Liza tries to reenter the world of publishing in NYC after a 15-year hiatus (during which time she raised her daughter) only to be rebuked by two twenty-something editors for being too “out of touch”–i.e. old.

With the help of her best friend, Maggie, Liza makes herself over with trendier clothes, hair highlights and extensions, and a brush-up on pop-culture: “Who do you admire?” “Katniss Everdeen.” On her next job interview, she tricks the company into believing she’s 26, lands the job, and spends the rest of the show’s first season teetering between her real life as a newly single divorcée/mother and new fake life as a 26-year-old editorial assistant.

The show is quick, relatable, and has me giggling nonstop. But my favorite part is its honest take on age, aging, and everyone’s opinion of it. The 20-something crowd thinks 40-year-olds are old and lame, while the 40-something crowd thinks 20-somethings are social-media-obsessed “fetus monsters” ridiculous for believing that Tweeting a topless photo is somehow empowering to women. Yet episode after episode you quickly realize that whether they are 26 or 41, all of the loveable characters are going through similar things and have a lot more in common than they realize. And maybe, just maybe, Liza’s “real” and “fake” life aren’t as disparate as she originally thought.

I don’t want to give too much away. Just go and watch it online here and then be ready to tune in on Wednesday January 13 at 10/9c. And in the mean time, here are 8 life lessons you can look forward to learning from Younger.


Lesson #1: When it comes to love, choose ‘good in person’ over ‘good on paper.’

Age-appropriate Richard: “You know, when Michelle told me that you were 40 I thought, Whoa. If I wanted to be with a 40-year-old woman I would’ve stayed married… sorry. That’s a very bad joke. You’re very cute. Now you ask me a question.”

In the show’s pilot, 40-year-old Liza meets 20-something Josh and they go on what turns out to be a fantastic date. But convincing herself he’s too young for her, she agrees to be set up with Richard who on paper sounds perfect: very good looking, recently divorced like herself, owns his own business, age appropriate... and so on and so on. Of course the date happens, and it’s kind of awful. I mean, the guy straight up insults her for being 40! Lesson learned: never believe that good on paper means good in person, and if you have the choice, choose the latter.


Lesson #2: When it comes to work, just because you don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

But that choice is up to you.

When Liza reenters the workforce after a 15-year hiatus, she has to quickly learn everything there is to know from Twitter and Youtube to hashtags and viral marketing. But we see her succeed episode after episode because she’s smart and willing to learn on the job. Those that succeed in work always say yes to a task or challenge and figure it out as they go. And even if you’re at the top of your field, eschew the assumption that you have nothing more to learn or improve on. We can always be better.


Lesson #3: When it comes to friendship, rely on those who will tell you when you’re being crazy…

Liza: [paranoid about being naked in front of her younger boyfriend] But what about the skin above my knees? And I think I’m getting a cleavage wrinkle…. it’s from sleeping on my side all these years.
Maggie: You know that you’re an insane person? A cleavage wrinkle? I mean with everything that women have to be paranoid about we don’t need to be making up new stuff. You look amazing.

….but will always have your back.

David, Liza’s soon-to-be ex-husband: Liza, wow! You look great! Did you do something different with your uhh…
Maggie: Yes, she just dropped 180 pounds of dead weight.
David: Great to see you, Maggie. As always. Still single?
Maggie: Still screwing the blackjack dealer?

Maggie is Liza’s best friend and one of my favorite characters in the show. And when the two women run into Liza’s cheating ex-husband, Maggie steps up and says exactly what he deserves to hear.

There are many traits people seek out in friends: someone to laugh with, someone to party with, someone to be lazy and binge-watch TV shows with. But what really counts is how you’re there for one another in difficult times. A true friend will tell you like it is, even if it’s hard to hear. They’ll always go to bat for you, and most importantly, they’ll forever root for your happiness. Of course, you should 100% always do the same for them. Life’s too short for jealousy, lies, or selfishness. Seek out the Maggie in your life, and never let her go. 


Lesson #4: When it comes to other women, be teammates, not enemies.

Not all women in your life will be a Maggie. In fact, most won’t. But just because they’re not your best friend doesn’t make them your competition. Whether you’re at work or at a bar, nothing good will come from putting others down to get ahead. Liza continues to thrive because she has an amazing line-up of ladies on her team, helping her and rooting for her to succeed. And she doest the same for them.


Lesson #5: When it comes to self-esteem, screw what other people have to say about you.

As Liza listens from the next room:
Real Estate Agent selling Liza’s house: 
“They lived here for 12 years, but then David left Liza for Debbie, a blackjack dealer he was schtooping in Atlantic City. The good news is he left Liza the house. The bad news is that he took out four mortgages that she never knew about to support his gambling habit… I’ve said too much.”
Woman looking at the house: “I don’t know.. it sounds like the home of a woman who lives with her cats and is going to die alone.”
Agent: “Not in this house she won’t. She can’t afford to.”

The time will come in almost everyone’s life–and if not yours, thank your lucky stars–when you’ll hear something someone has said about you, typically an opinion but sometimes a flat out lie. The initial pang and shock will hit you right in the stomach. Why would they say that about me? Is that really what I’m like? Does everyone think that?

Want to know the answer? It doesn’t matter. Odds are that person doesn’t have the slightest clue what they’re talking about. No one ever knows the full story of anyone’s life or relationship or job or family (except for maybe the Maggie’s). And truth be told, any person spreading that kind of nasty gossip negativity is probably just miserable about something in their own life and doesn’t know how to handle it. Ergo, their negative opinion does not matter. Ergo ergo, don’t worry about it.


Lesson #6: When it comes to age, it doesn’t matter how old a person is, everyone is going through something.

Diana (Liza’s 41-year-old boss and my second favorite character): Let me ask you a question. [Shows Liza her online dating profile.] Do you think I should change my profile photo? Maybe do one with the Leiber [handbag]?
Liza: Absolutely.
Diana: Would you mind… taking a few photos?
Liza: Sure. [reaches for iPhone] Diana: Oh no not with that. Use this. And run it through one of those fancy Instagram filters.

No matter how much we try to control it, the universe doesn’t care about your timeline or life plan. It will throw whatever it wants at you at any point in life, and it will do it with vigor. There is no set rule that things will happen by a given age. No deadline as to when you should get married, have kids, give up on your dream job, heck–give up on anything because ‘it hasn’t happened yet so it probably won’t.’ And if things do happen when you want them to, there is certainly no rule that states things won’t change. 

Every person at every stage of life is going through something. Things that make them scared; things that make them feel insecure; things that make them cry. And no one has everything figured out. If there is one thing viewers are constantly reminded of when watching Younger, it’s the pleasant reality that we as humans are all in this together, regardless of the year on our birth certificate.


Lesson #7: When it comes to socializing, put your phone away.

Because this is what you look like. I mean really, can this stop?


Lesson #8: And finally, when it comes to life, don’t be the walrus.

i.e. the other woman. Because one day your relationship will have its own problems, and there will likely be another walrus ready to step in. So let’s all just agree to not be walruses. Agreed? Ok good.


Catch up on Younger at TVland.com before the Season 2 premiere hits on January 13 at 10/9C! Warning: you won’t want to turn it off.