Note: This post contains spoilers from the Season 5 finale of “Younger.”
“Younger” ended its standout fifth season Tuesday night with a finale that managed to rock the lives of pretty much every character.
Diana (Miriam Shor) let Enzo (Chris Tardio) know she was all-in in their relationship. Charles (Peter Hermann) stepped down from Empirical, which meant that he and Liza (Sutton Foster) could finally be together. It also meant a big promotion for Kelsey (Hilary Duff), who became publisher of the company, which is now built around Millennial, the imprint she and Liza started. And, in perhaps the biggest bombshell of all, Clare (Phoebe Dynevor) — the Irish woman Josh (Nico Tortorella) married last season before their abrupt and inevitable split) — showed up at his Brooklyn door looking very pregnant.
Three of the show’s leading ladies — Foster, Duff and Shor — spoke to The Washington Post (in separate interviews) about the show’s pivotal season and what it means for each of their characters. Note: The interviews have been edited and condensed for space and clarity.
What did this season represent for your character?
Duff (Kelsey): She’s had to be pretty scrappy this whole season. In the workplace, she is continuing to fight to be heard and to be supported with the decisions that she deems fit for the company. The things that she wants to take risks and chances on are, kind of, not ever backed by Charles.
I think it’s really frustrating for her, so at the end of the season to have someone like Quinn [Laura Benanti] come in and realize that what’s working in the company is Kelsey’s imprint, I think it’s huge. It’s a really big win for her. I think she’s nervous [about] if she can step up to the plate and handle it, but I think that she’s ready and she finally feels seen.
Shor (Diana): She has tended to date people who were perfect on paper and find out that, in reality, in the flesh and blood that’s not how it works. That’s not how the heart works, and it hasn’t worked out well for her. Along comes this man who is obviously great-looking and they have this incredible chemistry, but on paper he’s all wrong for her, and in her mind he’s all wrong for her. That’s a big challenge for her that I think is a good one. He consistently challenges her view of things in a great way.
Foster (Liza): Liza kind of owned her power this season. She stopped playing games. She became more real. She grew up, as ironic as that sounds.
Were you surprised by the finale? How soon in advance do you typically find out about what’s going to happen to your character?
Duff (Kelsey): We get the episodes sometimes right before the table read, so not very far in advance at all. It’s always fun. Sometimes we’re at the table read with our jaw hanging open like, “Wait, what is going to happen?” I think that the biggest [surprise] moment for me was the pregnancy thing with Claire and Josh. And then obviously, Charles stepping down and Kelsey getting the promotion.
Shor (Diana): They will let things drop every now and then. We get hints. A little of it is like: “So, anything, anyone . . . want to give me a little something? I brought you guys some brownies. What do we have coming up?” [Laughs]
Foster (Liza): The only thing they told me was that Kelsey was going to be boss at the end and I was like, “Whaaat?” But how we got there, I had no idea how it was going to play out. That final season with Charles — I had no idea, until right before I read the script, how the season was going to end.
Speaking of, let’s talk about that ending! Charles and Liza are officially together. They share an amazing kiss, and then . . . they look terrified.
Foster (Liza): [Laughs] There’s a moment where Charles says: “I have everything I want. I’m happy,” and Liza says, “Well then, I’m happy too,” and they realize we’ve made all of these sacrifices.
Charles is really the one that loses in all of this. He has to step back from his company. And he’s making all of these sacrifices for Liza? I mean it’s amazing and, I guess, romantic, but at what cost? So they begin to walk away to their future, but then all of the doubts and fear and, “Oh my God, what . . . did we just do?” creeps in.
Team Josh or Team Charles?
Duff (Kelsey): I’m so wishy-washy. I’m back to Team Josh. I think Charles has done Kelsey so wrong that she’s over him. I think she’s like, “I’m going to be nice to you because you gave me a job here and you gave me a start,” but he hasn’t treated her right. And I think she’s lost a lot of respect for him.
I’m so sad. I hope that baby is not Josh’s baby. Because I want Liza and Josh to be together.
Foster (Liza): Someone just asked me, “At the end of the series, who is the couple that you want to see standing?” and I said, “Kelsey and Liza.”
It’s hard to pick [between Josh and Charles]. It’s been really interesting this season to read fans’ comments on Twitter. People feel so strongly on both choices. I don’t know if I see Liza walking off into the sunset with either of them.
What was your favorite episode or moment this season?
Foster (Liza): I love Episodes 7 and 8 — the Charles love story. The end of Episode 7 is just such an awesome moment of [Charles and Liza] finally coming together. And Episode 8, where the writers give Charles and Liza at least one episode where they can be happy.
Shor (Diana): I directed my first episode ever [Episode 5, “Big Little Liza"]. That’s my favorite episode in that I know it inside and out. It means so much to me. It was an episode that was directed by a woman, written by a woman, edited by a woman. We had our first gender-fluid character [Tam (Jesse James Keitel), the sulky intern of Kelsey’s publicist friend Lauren (Molly Bernard)]. It was a really exciting episode even if I hadn’t directed it. It’s a very emotional episode for me.
I did really love the Staten Island episode, and the episode with Enzo’s mom.
Duff (Kelsey): One of my favorite moments was [Kelsey] walking into Charles’s office and being like, “I know you want this book, but I want this book and I think both could work,” and him saying they couldn’t afford both, and then her kind of blackmailing him by being like, “How about if I have Liza ask you over dinner or after dinner.” That was so bomb. I was so proud of her.
And then some of my other favorite moments this season were, honestly, with Enzo and Diana.
Is there anyone in the cast you love having scenes with or have become particularly close to?
Duff (Kelsey): Molly Bernard and I have become extremely tight friends, so I think working with her is always pretty dreamy.
Shor (Diana): I’ve known Sutton since she was 17. Her brother and I went to college together. So it’s been really fun [working with her].
And Debi Mazar [who plays Liza’s BFF and roommate, Maggie]. Like, if you don’t want to be Debi Mazar, you’re not thinking right. She’s such a phenomenal woman. But everybody! Everyone kind of inspires me in their own way.
Foster (Liza): I love working with everybody for different reasons. I will say, the first person that popped in my mind was Debi, because we often will do all of our scenes together in one day. A lot of our scenes will happen in the loft, so we’ll have a whole day where it’s just me and her in the loft. And I just love her. We’re so different, and we just have a ball together.
It’s usually just, like, the two of us in our pajamas, sitting on the couch, drinking coffee. It’s the best.