Younger Recap: The Great Pretender


A Titanic Problem
Season 5 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****
A scene from Younger. Photo: TVLand

Charles Brooks is reeling. He can’t take his eyes off the file Edward L.L. Moore handed over containing Liza’s deep dark secret: She was a soccer coach. For children! Okay, he’s probably more put off by the fact that all this time he thought he was impractically falling for a 27-year-old, when in fact she is a 41-year-old. There are certificates and marriage announcements to prove it all. In the office, Charles can’t stop looking her over. Seeing her “trombone arm” (Maggie’s words) in order to read her phone, taking a second look at her suspect fashion choices, and listening to her embarrass herself by misusing “slide into your DMs” during a meeting, Charles can’t believe he was so blind to all the clues. Uh, no duh, UpChuck. What a fool in love, you are.

Speaking of fools in love, let’s quickly mention the Josh drama of the episode. That poor guy! He’s back from Ireland and Clare is scheduled to arrive in a few days after getting her dog vaccinated or some other excuse she most definitely made up. Later, Liza finds Josh alone in his apartment, crying in the dark. Crying Alone in the Dark is the saddest, and also a possible title for my memior. Clare isn’t coming anymore. She can’t deal with the lying to get a green card, and apparently they aren’t getting along well either. It all fell apart. Okay, yes, I feel very bad for Josh who tells Liza that something must be wrong with him because he keeps getting his heart broken, but also I’m a little perturbed. We spent all this time dealing with the Josh and Clare thing and now they are just … calling it quits? Will Liza and Josh even talk about their pre-wedding makeout sesh? You know what, let’s just get back to the other sad man in Liza’s life (all the handsome people are sad!).

Charles isn’t sure what to do with the discovery of Liza’s deception. There isn’t a “So the Employee You’re in Love With Has Been Lying About Her Age” course in business school. Or is there? (Shockingly, I did not attend business school.) Charles decides to have a chat with his lawyer and buddy Bob (who, as you may recall, knows Liza in her Real Life). He spills everything and decides he needs to fire her. It’s the only way. Bob dissuades him from that: He’s going to fire an employee WHOM HE KISSED MULTIPLE TIMES (those were the days!) because she’s too old? Those optics are real bad and after L.L. Moore, Empirical can’t afford another scandal. Bob’s advice is to pretend like everything’s normal and avoid her as much as possible.

The tactic proves difficult because Charles is terrible at pretending and Liza is very excited about some big news. Queen Reese Witherspoon has selected Marriage Vacation as the next book for her book club. It is a huge win for all involved — it basically guarantees huge sales numbers. And now that Liza has learned about sliding into DMs (just kidding, she’ll never know what that means), she messages Reese directly and by some miracle, gets a response: The ladies of Millennial get a meeting with Reese’s production company.

Liza, Kelsey, and Pauline have an excellent meeting: Hello Sunshine wants to option the movie rights to Marriage Vacation. After the meeting, Liza doubles back with a proposal for the company. Since their brands align so closely — both are championing new voices with unique points of view — Liza suggests a sort of “content incubator” in which Hello Sunshine would get access to all projects in Millennial’s pipeline. It would be a huge partnership. And maybe they’d get to ask Reese what the hell the bend and snap is really about, because I’ve used it and it DOES NOT WORK. We’d all benefit from this, is what I’m saying.

It would especially be a big deal for Charles, who has to inform his team that the company is taking a huge financial hit after L.L. Moore — so bad that payroll will be delayed. He tries to give a reassuring speech about enduring tough times, but Charles is just so sad it’s hard to buy. A deal with Reese Witherspoon could save the company. It seems like an easy yes, but since the deal is coming through Liza — whom he can’t even look in the eyes at the moment — he’s being stubborn about it.

You know what it seems like everyone needs right now? A party celebrating the launch of Marriage Vacation, the book written by Charles’s estranged wife who is putting pressure on him to reconcile, and edited by Liza who, well, you get it. Pauline is pumped up for this party and she wants Charles to at least pretend to be into all the publicity. Ah yes, that pesky word “pretend.” Add “pretending to be excited for his sort-of-wife” to the list of things eating away at Charles’s soul.

Otherwise, the vacation-themed party isn’t so bad. Lauren’s running around trying to dredge up business for her new company (yes, “We’re not great, we’re Heller Good” is a terrible tagline), Kelsey is busy making sure Hello Sunshine executive Kiara isn’t hitting on Zane, and Charles has a conversation with Diana that brings him back to reality. She makes her undying loyalty to Empirical known; she’ll sell her apartment before she leaves the company. And Diana really loves that apartment, so that’s a big deal.

Charles is reminded that whatever he’s feeling about Liza, he can’t let that jeopardize the company or the people who work for him. He makes an announcement: The content incubator with Hello Sunshine is on. It’s a surprise to everyone, but a very welcome one.

With such great news, you’d think the good vibes would carry well into the rest of the evening. They do not. Pauline is having the time of her life and back at the Brooks Townhome, she makes sure her husband knows what a wonderful evening it’s been. All her dreams are coming true! Well, until Charles crushes them. He isn’t in love with Pauline and he can’t keep pretending. It’s really over and there will be no reconciling. Talk about killing the mood.

Just a few days ago, Charles officially ending things with Pauline would be a very exciting development for all of #TeamCharles, but Charles is so (understandably) angry with Liza, who knows how that’ll all shake out. The next morning, Liza bumps into Charles outside of work — his avoidance tactics need some work — and she questions him about his apprehension to make the deal with Hello Sunshine. It’s good for the company, after all. He congratulates her on getting the deal done, and tops it off with a very loaded, “You really pulled it off.”

Oh, okay Charles. Like the handsome tree of a man he is, Charles is throwing some serious shade.

It’s Trout Season

• Other characters meeting the legend that is Diana Trout is always a delight. This time it’s Lauren, who’s a big fan of everything she’s doing. Diana learned the meaning of “slide into your DMs” from Liza, so she uses it very incorrectly when networking, but Lauren is very into it. “Oh please do, diva.”

• Let’s get serious for a sec: How wonderful is Diana’s loyalty to Charles? She doesn’t bat a long, glorious eyelash when she learns she might not be getting paid on time. Trout deserves some big victories in season five.

• You guys: That. Bangle.

Younger Recap: The Great Pretender