Sutton Foster Makes 'Younger' Pop

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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The bright, sparkly Younger zips right along, getting laughs from star Sutton Foster as a 40-year-old trying to pass as 26 to snag a job at a publishing company. There are jokes about hashtags, tattoos, and One Direction in the premiere. Joyce Carol Oates’s social-media profile figures prominently in the second episode. It’s as though this show wants to set up hurdles for itself to overcome. Happily, it does. 

Much of this is due to Foster, who radiates so much eager energy, you have no trouble buying the premise of the sitcom. There’s also the bright look and quick pace the show gets from creator Darren Star. He has brought along his Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field, whose veteran feature-film touch enhances the look of the show. 

Hilary Duff is pleasingly no-nonsense as a co-worker who befriends Foster’s Liza, Debi Mazar is drily sarcastic as Liza’s best pal, Maggie, though the show certainly hammers hard on the idea that Maggie being gay is intrinsically amusing while somehow never managing to make anything amusing of it. It’s as though it’s a character trait that got assigned to Maggie and then the writers decided the less said, the better.

Related: The Return of Hilary Duff

Speaking of writers: Younger feels, overall, like an Amy Sherman-Palladino show without the writing of Amy Sherman-Palladino. The creator of Gilmore Girls and, more to the point, the Sutton Foster-starring Bunheads, specializes in rat-a-tat dialogue peppered with cultural references both low and high. Indeed, the Joyce Carol Oates theme in the second episode — it’s about Liza being tasked to come up with a publicity campaign to launch Oates’s umpteenth novel — is very, ah, Sherman-Palladinoian. (Even more so is what’s apparently going to be a running plot line: Duff’s attempt to sign an ultra-literary Swedish author of phone-book-thick autobiographical novels: Is Younger actually trying to attract the Karl Ove Knausgaard market???)

Watch the trailer for Younger here:

Younger airs on TV Land, the birthplace of Hot in Cleveland and the orphanage for the rather sad Kirstie Alley sitcom Kirstie. Is Younger a good fit on this channel? Probably: The older viewership will probably laugh at Younger’s Twitter and “Who’s Lena Dunham?” jokes that would probably be met by real twentysomethings with bored eye-rolls. 

Sutton delivers her Younger lines as though she had solid-gold screwball-comedy material, even when she doesn’t. (“I don’t know if I can have sex with someone who’s barely old enough to rent a car.”) Her performance, along with that of tart stage actress Miriam Shor as Liza’s brittle editor-boss, results in a clever show. 

Younger airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land.