At the ATX Festival this summer, I had the privilege of sitting down with four different sets of couples who make up the wonderful talent behind Younger.
The first interview we're running is with series creator Darren star and one of the stars, Debi Mazar, who plays Maggie. It speaks for itself!
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
What was the genesis of Younger?
Darren: Well, it was originally a book that I found several years ago, and I was always really intrigued by the premise of a woman who left the workforce to have kids and raised a family and then, basically, 14 years later wanted to get back to work and found that doors were closed and she was too old. I knew women who had basically had that same experience in Hollywood. You know, after 12 years or even longer, you come back and find it's really tough...
Debi: Oh please, I had six weeks and they were trying to throw me under the bus. For real. They don't give you any time to like, you know, recover when you have kids.
Darren: For an actor, I'd say the window is really short. Maybe a year. But then I felt it became much more relevant as a show about generational differences, and how the world has changed with social media and how somebody who is the next generation would have to come back and really learn that stuff in a way that she'd be much more of a fish out of water. So that was the jumping off point.
I loved the idea of a show about reinvention.
The characters are just as eclectic, I think, as the cast you got to play them. How did you choose this particular group to play them?
Darren: One at a time, very carefully. You know, Sutton Foster is somebody who I had been a big fan of for many years and I'd seen all of her musicals. Debi is someone I've known for years and always, you know, thought she was someone I'd just love to work with, and then after that it was just sort of meeting people. Casting is just so important.
I always picture you, Debi, as more of a tough girl but here you are on Younger as a character who is so full of heart.
Darren: That's so interesting, because I just know her personal side and never worked with her.
Debi: You know, typecasting is brilliant because it means you always work. I think I've played a couple of tough characters that people have just loved, and that just sort of happened to me, but also, early on in my career, I had a few roles where I was softer, but I guess the tougher ones kind of took over.
In fact, when I first came in to meet with Darren, I was coming in to read for Miriam Shor's role, Diana. I thought, this is a little like Shauna in Entourage, and they said, you know what, scratch that, come in for Maggie. I was really excited because I don't often get to be the girl with the big heart, the friend, and this was an opportunity to be a little bit different.
You know, I still have brains, I'm still smart, I'm still urban, but we're shooting in New York, so I don't really have to lose my aura, lose my accent. We're in New York! It's refreshing for me to play a different type of character, especially in a series.
Debi, your line delivery is excellent. We capture quotes as part of our review process and there are always Maggie quotes.
Debi: Thank you. Well, that's my brilliant writer here...
Darren: You know, you need both. You need both. And Miriam Shor I knew from GCB, and I loved working with her on that. LOVED working with her on that, so it just all came together.
Debi: I didn't know her before this.
Darren: She's amazing.
Debi: I know, but I missed out on her because I was living in LA and she did a lot of theater. When I met her, I started realizing I had seen her in different shows. She really is transformative and delivers a ba-dum-bum *snap* line. Hanging out with her is a trip.
On the show, Liza has a younger boyfriend who is already in on her secret who really likes who she is. Why is she still so afraid to let go of her secret?
Darren: I think at the beginning of the story, one motivator is having this job. This show is a very pro work show. These characters are very passionate about what they do, and what they do defines them. Hillary Duff's character is a go-getter. She's not slacking through her 20s. All of the young characters are very similar.
I know how important work is to me, and I think the thing about Liza is that if she lost her job she would probably ruined in that industry and she would lose that dream of hers and that dream is really important to her.
She's there and important. Would everybody really...
Darren: Yes, she's there and she's important, but I think you can look at anybody who has any job with that level of deception is pretty big. It's a hard thing to forgive. I think that level of deception with people that you work with, no matter how valuable you seem to them, would question a lot of...it's a bit character flaw.
It's a big character flaw and the show is about a flawed character, a character who has got herself into this situation probably because she didn't think it was going to work, but it worked beyond her expectations and now she's dug a hole for herself that she's not quite sure how to get out of.
So an out would be if an anonymous person wrote a book about a person who did this and it's a best seller for Empirical?
Debi: Are you sitting in the writers' room?
Darren: Yes. And then she made the money from the book. I just don't believe they would be able to keep her on at that point. There are a certain kind of ethics in business...
Debi: Once you cross the line, it's kind of like, how can I ever trust you again?
Darren: It is a pretty big line to cross and the longer the lie continues, the harder it is going to be to get out of it gracefully. After a couple weeks, maybe. I do think the show can sustain itself if people do find out how old she is, but I just think there is a heavy line for people learning that.
Can the show sustain itself if people know who she is working in that world? Absolutely, but there are a lot of consequences. And we're calling you for ideas, actually! [laughs] But those are the stories we have to tell.
But that's part of the fun of it, too.
Darren: Yes, that's the fun of it.
Let's talk about Maggie and Lauren. Are we going to see more of them? Because they are adorable.
Darren: We will, but there are going to be big surprises ahead that even Debi doesn't know about coming down the pike with that relationship.
Debi: She's [Molly Bernard] a series regular. She's witty, she's funny, she's in the circle because of Liza and her work, and we have a fun little thing, so why not?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.