Spoilers ahead for the Younger season-five premiere.
Just like that, Younger did it. Charles finally knows that Liza isn’t a 20-something publishing assistant, but actually a 40-something divorcée with a kid in college who’s been lying about her age the entire time she’s known him. Never in my wildest Younger dreams would I have guessed that this is how Charles would discover Liza’s secret, yet here we are: In the season-five premiere, disgraced author and resident creep Edward L.L. Moore hands Charles a file full of info on Liza — including her real age and identity — in an effort to discredit the women who accused him of sexual harassment.
Where Younger will go next is yet to be seen, though Charles must be feeling a potent mixture of anger, betrayal, and embarrassment for not figuring it out on his own. Liza is very convincing and people are wont to believe that people are the age they say they are, so Charles shouldn’t feel too bad. Still, there’s no way he doesn’t start to replay every interaction they had together to figure out what he missed. Oh, sad, handsome Charles: There are so many things you missed.
Lucky (or unlucky) for him, Vulture has put together a list of the biggest red flags he should’ve noticed about Liza. Sorry, buddy!
When Liza said she “totally understands” divorce (Season 1, Episode 7)
On their own, a lot of these interactions could be explained away. But when you start to add them all up, something is clearly off. Like the time when Charles bumps into Liza working as a cocktail waitress at a douchey party to make some extra money. He opens up about going through a divorce, and she immediately responds with a mature understanding of his situation. She covers by insisting she knows all of this because she’s read so many books with divorced characters. (Not for nothing, but wouldn’t the lie have been easier if she said she was a divorced 26-year-old? They do exist!) Charles chalked this up to Liza being a well-read, awkward human, but he should’ve kept it in mind.
When Charles literally asked, “Are you sure you’re 26?” (Season 1, Episode 8)
It was right there in front of you, Charles! IN YOUR OWN HOUSE. After Liza wows him with her babysitting prowess, the two share a nightcap and delightful conversation about taking solace in other people’s misery in order to stay sane. Charles is blown away by Liza’s insightfulness. She must either be an old soul, or, you know, someone with more life experience than a 26-year-old. Come on, Charles!
When Liza said she is “really good at keeping a secret” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Sure, she and Charles are talking about the dive diner with secretly good French toast, but here’s a life lesson: When a person voluntarily offers up that he or she is really good at keeping a secret, you should think to yourself, “Hm, what a weird thing to say and also why?”
When Liza wrote about a 40-year-old woman’s sexual awakening (Season 1, Episode 11)
This is the second time Charles literally questions Liza’s age to her face. He reads her ghostwritten book chapter and then checks her HR file because the writing feels so authentic, he can’t believe a 26-year-old could write it. He simply assumes that Liza must be a wonderfully talented writer, but he forgot the first rule of writing: People write what they know.
When Liza basically wore a plaid diaper (Season 2, Episode 3)
Throughout the series, Liza attempts to hide her age with a regimen of Olay Regenerist and sporting outfits that scream “I’m in my 20s!” Sometimes, however, her outfits look less like something a 26-year-old would wear and more like something a 40-year-old thinks a 26-year-old would wear. Like the plaid diaper-shorts paired with ankle booties, just for one quick example. Again: By themselves, Liza’s fashion choices don’t completely give her away, but when added to other strange moments? OPEN YOUR EYES, CHARLES.
When Liza refused to do publicity for Millennial Print (Season 2, Episode 3)
When Charles questions why Liza wouldn’t want to have her picture taken on the red carpet of the Millennial Print launch party — she’s just as integral to the imprint as Kelsey! — she gives him a whole rambling explanation about Kelsey being the face of the imprint and her own issues with “mean-mugging.” Charles is too busy telling Liza that she has “such a friendly mug” that he doesn’t realize millennials invented selfies! They love being in pictures! This is a red flag!
When Liza listed Brad Pitt and Edward James Olmos as American treasures (Season 2, Episode 3)
Do 26-year-olds even know who Edward James Olmos is?!
When Liza told the Empirical crew that she isn’t who they think she is (Season 3, Episode 3)
Honestly, the entire plot of “Last Days of Books” should tip Charles off to Liza’s secret. She gets word that her old local bookstore — where she and her friends used to complain about their “hus… uh, homework,” she tells Charles — is going under, so she comes up with a plan to get a donation from their new tech investor. The plan blows up in her face when she’s forced to join the gang as they head over to New Jersey to drop off the check. Her two worlds are colliding, so Liza decides to come clean as the helicopter lands. She begins a very dramatic speech about how she has to tell them something and she isn’t who they think she is — but then the investor calls the event off and the helicopter goes back to Manhattan. With no threat of exposure, Liza finishes that dramatic speech by telling everyone that she was slutty in high school. Charles (as well as Kelsey and Diana) accept this as another kooky, awkward Liza moment. They ask no follow-up questions when there are so many follow-up questions to be asked!
When Liza’s hospital bracelet listed her actual birthday (Season 3, Episode 8)
Talk about close calls! All Charles has to do is look down at the precious little hand he is holding and he would see “2/28/76” in big, bold font. Alas, that gentleman is too concerned with the well-being of the woman he just dumped his girlfriend for, after she suffered a few injuries while returning Diana’s Citibike. The eyes see what the eyes want to see, I guess.
That whole ridiculous story about loving Berlin (Season 3, Episode 11)
Liza and Charles end up slow dancing to Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” at a bar in the Hamptons and Charles completely buys into Liza’s bonkers cover-up about her babysitter instilling a love for Berlin in her as a child. NO ONE KNOWS THEIR BABYSITTER’S PROM SONG.
When Liza made another dramatic speech to her co-workers (Season 4, Episode 1)
Yes, this is her second dramatic “I have to tell you all something!” speech. And it would have actually happened, except Kelsey, who just learned the truth herself, stops Liza so as not to ruin Millennial’s cred. Kelsey then turns the speech into an announcement that Liza turned down a proposal from Josh. The awkwardness of it all is worth it for Diana’s incredulous “This is a business meeting!” reaction, but yet again, there are zero follow-up questions. Empirical is a wild and weird place.
The fact that Liza is a back spasm expert (Season 4, Episode 2)
Liza knows exactly what to do when she finds Charles on his office floor in pain with a back spasm because her “friend” is married to a guy in his 40s. As one specific incident, okay fine, maybe. In addition to every other interaction he’s had with her? This is just getting sad.
When Liza tried to explain memes (Season 4, Episode 3)
After witnessing this exchange, even Kelsey can’t believe she never caught on sooner.
Seriously, a third “I have to tell you something” talk?! (Season 4, Episode 7)
No one wants to press pause on Charles and Liza’s makeout session less than me, but the third time someone dramatically says they “have to tell you something,” you really need to take a breather and ASK SOME FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS. Let her tell you the thing, Charles!