Spoilers ahead for Wednesday evening’s episode of Younger.
After six seasons of secrets, lies, and subsequent cover-ups for the secrets and lies, Diana Trout (Miriam Shor) finally became privy to the fib that birthed Younger as we know it: Liza’s real age. As spectacularly unraveled in Wednesday’s episode, Charles’s vindictive ex-wife dropped the bombshell during a speech (in front of hundreds of people) at a publishers’ debutante ball, news that Diana first believes is nothing more than jealousy-fueled slander. When Liza admits it’s true, though, what ensues can only be described as the Three Stages of Trout Grief, which begins with a panic attack weighed down by her bulky necklace, crescendos with a brief hospitalization, and culminates with the women having a tearful reconciliation back in the office. “You’re lucky you hitched a wagon to a star,” she tells Liza. “But if we’re going to forge forward, honesty is the best policy.”
Still recovering from all that emotional turmoil, Vulture hopped on the phone with Shor to discuss filming the episode, the deeper significance of the reveal, and why it was best to not go the “Diana has always secretly known” route.
How long were you in the know about Diana’s big discovery before you received the episode’s script?
Us actors don’t usually find out what happens before we get the scripts. The writers are always tight-lipped. But I like to spend a lot of time in the writers’ room, because I love our writers and I’m fascinated by the whole aspect of storytelling. I like to pretend I’m a writer, but mostly I just sit in the room to eat their snacks. I think there’s more to being a writer than that, but I’m not sure. [Laughs.] So, because I was always hanging out there, I did know ahead of time it was going to happen. I just didn’t know how emotional it was going to end up being. I love the sense of importance it was given. The episode isn’t about the men in Liza’s life. It’s about the friendship between these two women and the emotional heft of it.
Did the writers ever flirt with other scenarios where Diana would find out?
I don’t think this is always how it was going to be. The writers’ room is a living, breathing room. They’re constantly changing things, often at the last minute. The reveal wasn’t set in stone from the get-go, and I recall other ideas being pitched. But it was always important that Liza and Diana’s relationship be treated with so much respect.
Did the moment unfold how you personally imagined it would? I thought it was an interesting choice that Diana found out in a room alongside hundreds of strangers, as opposed to a controlled environment with Liza.
You know, I never had a certain scenario set in stone in my mind. The thing about Diana is that she wants to be in control of every situation and she never wants to look like a fool. The writers really amped it up to the point where both of those things happened to her. She stands up for her friend and is very exposed in that moment. The writers made it as precarious as possible and raised the stakes to a level I didn’t think they would, to be honest. And they gave her a panic attack in the middle of Times Square!
The secret literally broke her body! That panic attack was so sad to watch, especially with her massive necklace.
That was absolutely the heaviest necklace I’ve worn to date on the show. And I’ve worn a lot of clunkers! The funny part was when I dipped my knees for the panic attack, I didn’t think I was able to actually get back up without the help of a few people. [Laughs.] To have Diana be so exposed, and to sacrifice herself for her friend, was significant. Of course she ultimately would understand the sacrifice, and she does.
I’ve talked to Sutton a few times throughout the show’s run, and she was convinced Diana has always known Liza’s secret but never said anything. Did it surprise you that she was really, truly shocked — even calling herself “the village idiot?”
I think what’s interesting is, yeah, it would be great for Diana to have been like, Of course I’ve always known. But that takes away from the intensity and the drama of it all. I guess, ultimately, I have to admit that the better writing would be for her not to have known. Diana is nothing if not a little bit self-involved. [Laughs.] She’s a supremely intelligent woman, but her myopia comes from the fact that she’s self-involved. She’s not dumb, but she’s wrapped up in her own stuff. That’s true for everyone. That’s why no one else realized the truth about Liza. That’s true of the world. We’re wrapped in our own shit. That’s just human nature. It makes the most story sense to have her continue to be who she is, which is someone who’s more wrapped up in her own story than someone else’s.
I want to learn all about what filming the reconciliation scene with Sutton was like. Did you two have a lot of conversations about how you wanted this poignant moment to play out?
When a scene is really well written and clear, everything you need is right there. I know Sutton and I really enjoy having scenes together, especially the emotional ones. We get those rare moments of true emotionality, and this was one of them. I love the relationship we’ve created, and I was so looking forward to getting to do this scene. Because the scene was so wonderfully written, we didn’t need to do too much rehearsing on our own. On the day, we wanted to do it justice. When we were shooting it, I seem to recall needing a few more takes than Sutton. [Laughs.] She’s just so amazing and nailed it. It was so important for me to nail it — I remember feeling flustered between takes to make sure I did everything perfectly. Both of us knew how special that scene was.
I love that, in the end, Liza’s secret made the two women vocalize their feelings for each other in a way they never had.
It’s a beautiful romantic comedy, our show, but I love that this episode ended with a love story of a friendship between these two women. A love story of a friendship is just as important as a love story between romantic partners.
Compared to when Kelsey discovered Liza’s secret, Diana offers her forgiveness much quicker, even though the stakes of their friendship and business partnership are similar. What do you think contributed to Diana working through a betrayal like this so efficiently?
I think the truth is Diana doesn’t want to lose Liza as a friend. That relationship is incredibly important to her, more important than she can actually vocalize. She needs Liza, and can’t lose this friend. It would wreck her. When faced with the reality of why Liza lied, it’s a moment where Diana thinks to herself, Well, of course you had to. I know this world, I know this job, I know what it’s like to be a woman who’s aging out of where society would prefer us all to be. When presented with that, you can’t deny that of course Liza had to do what she did, and of course Diana was going to forgive her. Out of everyone, especially Kelsey, Diana understands what you need to do to get ahead in a career. If anyone was going to understand, it was going to be Diana. Her desire to keep this friendship is what ultimately wins that moment and not her self-centeredness and hurt.
A lot of people say the show’s true love story is Liza and Kelsey, but the further it progresses, the more I think it’s actually Liza and Diana.
That’s the duality of what Liza is trying to understand — her younger self and her older self. Kelsey and Diana represent both of those sides, and her relationships inform that. Just like how Liza’s romantic life is informed by Josh and Charles and those different generations, how you discover and support yourself is through friendships. Exploring that so deeply is one of the great things about being on a show for so many seasons, and I wasn’t killed off, like every other show I’ve been on. [Laughs.] That’s why I actually keep sitting in the writers’ room. To see how the magic happens, to ensure I don’t get killed off, and the snacks.