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Younger’s Sutton Foster on How Liza’s Secret Will ‘Blow Up’ in Season 5

Photo: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Take a backseat, love triangles! Fans hoping for Liza and Charles (or even Liza and Josh) to officially seal the deal in Younger’s season-five premiere will instead have to wait, owing to the fact that a much more significant matter has cropped up for the gang at Empirical. In “#LizaToo,” the publishing company’s golden boy, Edward L.L. Moore, is accused of a long history of sexual harassment against women, a history that Liza makes sure comes to light despite the repercussions for the company. But Edward won’t go down without a fight: In a last-minute twist, he reveals Liza’s secret to Charles, in the hopes of discrediting her accusations against him. (We found our villain for the season, that’s for damn sure.)

Ahead of Tuesday’s premiere, Vulture hopped on the phone with Sutton Foster to discuss the big reveal, the ramifications of Liza’s secret, and how Younger could go on for years and years and years.

Congrats on the season-six renewal! I, too, was at the premiere party last night and toasted lots of those Marriage Vacation cocktails to the good news. So tasty.
Oh God, I had quite a few of those Marriage Vacation cocktails. A lot.

Have you read the actual Marriage Vacation book? I can’t believe how quickly Younger reached “real literature based on the show” status.
I know, isn’t it crazy? I haven’t read it yet, but I have my copy. I’m going on a little vacation with my family next week, so it’ll be the perfect summer read for the occasion. I heard it gets pretty salacious, I’m not sure if I can read it. I know it’s fiction, but still I’m like, ahhhh!

I can confirm page 58 is indeed very salacious.
Okay, phew. Yes, I think I’ll still read it.

With another season confirmed, have you given much thought as to how long Younger will go? Has an endgame been discussed?
I don’t think Darren and the writers have an exact endgame yet. I know they’re taking it season by season. What I love about the show is that it’s grown beyond the original conceit. The show can exist where Liza lying about her age is no longer a secret. The show could survive beyond that. But we’ll see! Every season, we gain more viewers and that’s so exciting. Let’s see how long we can keep it going! Everyone loves our jobs and loves the show, so as long as there are stories to keep going, we’ll be here for awhile.

Go for Grey’s Anatomy status.
I’d be so curious what stories would come up with for 15 seasons. [Laughs.] But yes, that would be wonderful.

Why was it important for the season to begin with this #MeToo storyline? Was it always planned that Empirical’s biggest author would be accused?
The world changed between season four and season five. The writers created this L.L. Moore character who was a “flirty old man” and said inappropriate things in prior seasons. With #MeToo and #TimesUp, it wasn’t hard for the writers to address him in this new light. It made for a great dramatic story line and also a very timely story line. I’m so proud of our writers and how they held the character accountable. When they first introduced this character, they definitely didn’t have this story line in mind, and between the seasons, this was not a story line they were heading down. The #MeToo movement definitely sealed Edward’s fate.

It was interesting to see the perspective from Empirical’s employees and Edward’s fans. The employees support Liza and the women who come forward, but his fans are beyond enraged his book will probably never get released.
Absolutely. It’s such a hot topic. It’s interesting to me personally because I have a line of dialogue that’s like, “He’s a flirty old man, but he didn’t cross a line. But, he did cross a line. He gave me his hotel key in season two. He was trying to sleep with me. Where is the line? When is it crossed? It’s all this grey area we’re talking about. Charles is faced with having to do the right thing at great cost to his company, but he morally does the right thing. That’s really important.

But yeah, you’re right, the fans are pissed. Look at the author who did this bad thing instead! Ahhh! It’s complicated.

The big news is that Charles now knows Liza’s secret. Were you surprised that it took him so long to discover the truth, and that it didn’t even come from his own sleuthing?
This was something the writers wanted to do last season, actually. This was one of the ideas on how they wanted to end season four, so for them to do it in the very first episode was a very “WTF?!” moment. I do admit it was surprising that he never had an inkling about her age, but he believes what he wants to believe. I don’t think it ever crossed his mind. Why would he believe otherwise, you know? I’m just so convincing! [Laughs.] He’s going to feel incredibly betrayed and hurt and confused. It was the last thing that would’ve crossed his mind. Now he’s dealing with an imposter — not just an imposter in his life, but an imposter in his company and someone he was romantically involved with in some degree. It gets pretty intense and takes them a bit to find their way to each other. It’s definitely done in true Younger fashion. It’s quite complicated. It’s a huge blow to Charles.

In a weird way, I expected him to be like, “Oh, I’ve known this entire time.” But that would’ve been too many twists.
Yeah, definitely. I’ve always thought that Diana has always known. Like, Liza tells her and she’s like, “Of course I know you’re 41, what am I, an idiot?”

It’s interesting how it plays out. Liza really owns her power this season. She gets beaten down in the first couple of episodes and she rallies hard. You can see Liza grow up, as ironic as that sounds. She’s like, “You know what, fuck all of this!” She owns it, it’s good. I loved it.

What about Pauline finding out Liza’s secret? Although she’s the separated wife of Charles, she of all people could relate to doing something crazy in the search for self-discovery.
I don’t know either, I’ve also thought about this. I’m honestly not sure how Pauline would react to Liza and Charles, or also finding the truth about Liza’s age. I agree with you, because the way Liza embraced Pauline was due to seeing so much of herself in her. In a different circumstance, I believe they would be very good friends, but of course it’s complicated. That will be fun for the writers to figure out.

The show has evolved past Liza’s secret, so much so that a few episodes can go by and it’s not really mentioned. What is the main repercussion of it coming to light now?
I think they’re afraid of this exact question. She and Kelsey built this imprint all about being in your 20s, and she’s trying to be the voice of this generation. The writers have raised the stakes so high: Empirical has lost its biggest earner, the company’s in debt, Millennial is saving their ass right now because Marriage Vacation is a hit. They’re keeping the company afloat, and the last thing they need is a scandal or any false representation. There might be a way to spin it, but that would be down the line. For now, everyone’s just trying to play it super safe and keep things under wraps. But we’ll see. It’s going to blow up. It’s just a matter of when and how.

When her secret finally gets out, it would be perfect if she just sold her tell-all memoir to Millennial.
That’s a great idea. I love that idea. I feel that will probably happen. It doesn’t happen this season, but that’s a great, great, great idea.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Younger’s Sutton Foster on Why Liza’s Secret Will ‘Blow Up’