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Younger is the little show that could. The comedy, about a 40-year-old divorcee who lies about her age to get a job in publishing, premiered in 2015 on a smaller cable network (TV Land) just as streaming became the bingeable norm. But the series managed to find its audience and stay afloat for six successful seasons—in part thanks to the show’s appeal across age lines. Younger’s depictions of motherhood, feminism, workplace politics, ageism, and love were always emotionally honest, painfully raw, and supremely empowering.
Season six saw the show’s highest-rated premiere ever, a testament to viewers’ loyalty to Younger. But when season seven airs on April 15 on Paramount Plus, it will be the series’ last. It picks up with the steepest of cliffhangers: Following Charles’s (Peter Hermann’s) proposal, which path will Liza (Sutton Foster) choose?
Yes, six years and seven seasons in, Younger’s central love triangle—between Liza (a 40-something who at first pretended to be 26 to reinvent herself), Josh (the hunky, lovestruck tattoo artist played by Nico Tortorella), and Charles (top publisher at Liza’s company)—has kept fans invested in a way most shows cannot. For Star, that’s the heart of the show and speaks to its larger message.
“Whether or not Liza’s with Charles or Josh romantically or the other, she still has an emotional bond to both,” Star tells Glamour. “I think that’s very much what the series is about: not defining relationships, and not defining your life by a preconceived set of rules.”
Now that her age-old (pun intended) secret is out, Liza is able to navigate her life in a truly authentic way. But as fans have come to expect, love will not come easy: Tumbling twists and turns are thrown into the final season almost immediately. Star confirms, however, that each storyline culminates with a very satisfying conclusion by the finale in June. “That, to me, is always the toughest part of how to end a series,” he adds.
Star attributes much of the show’s success to Foster who, on screen and behind, has helped create a welcoming, thoughtful environment. “Sutton went above and beyond in terms of how she inhabited this role, and took it further than I could have ever hoped and dreamed,” Star says. “She makes everything look effortless.”
Before Younger, Foster cultivated her career on Broadway. (Star couldn’t convince Foster to let Liza be a singer on the show, but he’s thrown in a plethora of Easter eggs for theater fans, including a smile-inducing one this season.) And playing a wide range of characters over the years—a young woman in the roaring ’20s, an ogre, the tallest Little Woman, a show-stopping nightclub singer, and so on—prepared Foster to play what in many ways is her most personal role yet.
“Where I get emotional is thinking on how this really was a moment in time,” she tells Glamour of filming Younger. “I don’t know if any of us will have this experience again, where every one of the pieces line up from every corner of the show. I think we all will look back at this time as a wonderful chapter of a lot of really wonderful career moments, but also a lot of personal achievements as well.”
A big personal achievement for Foster—and perhaps the deepest connection to Liza—is the adoption of her daughter, Emily Dale Griffin, in March 2017. In Younger’s first few seasons, Liza’s connection to her daughter, Caitlin, played a fundamental role in the show and, at times, felt a bit like a warped reality to Foster as she began her journey toward motherhood through IVF.
One moment in particular stands out in Foster’s mind: A storyline in season three where she and Josh navigate a pregnancy scare. On screen, Liza was not on board with having another child. Off screen, Foster was struggling. “I was trying to get pregnant and playing this other storyline,” she says. “It was a little bit of a mindfuck.”
IVF ultimately did not work out for Foster and her husband, Ted Griffin; after adopting their daughter, they realized why: “It became so clear,” Foster explains. “It wasn’t working because Emily was supposed to be my daughter.”
A scene two seasons later would then develop a whole new meaning: After her secret has been revealed to Charles, Liza explains that all of it—the lie, the deceit, the antiaging skin-care routine, the reinvention—was for her daughter. “It’s the gravitas of that and realizing all the things that you do for your kid,” Foster says. “Then and now, for me, everything I do is filtered through my daughter. It’s really expanded my life in every direction. The highs are higher than they’ve ever been, the lows are lower, and my smile has never been bigger.”
Foster isn’t the only castmate with pivotal life moments that have coincided with Younger. In the time since its premiere, Hilary Duff had two children, Nico Tortorella got hitched, and Debi Mazar’s daughter left for college. All of it made their individual performances that much more invested and nuanced. It also made the cast more finely connected than one could imagine from the outside looking in. “There’s a real sense of partnership off screen…and it’s all been pretty organic,” Foster says.
In season seven, that feeling is reflected even further, especially through the intergenerational storylines on the show, which have struck many viewers as the most powerful moments. Foster hopes that once Younger has finished, the series will continue to serve as a reminder to all women—young and old, 26 and 40, mother and daughter—that intergenerational and intersectional love is the most powerful feeling one can reach.
“I hope it leaves a mark that there can be a positive, female-empowered, fun-escape romantic comedy that exists during a time where we need that escape,” she says. “And we can be invested in awesome characters and root for them, without cynicism or darkness.”
Adds Star, “I really love seeing how it just became totally equal and authentic, that by the time you’re watching season seven, you’re really not thinking of these women as all different ages. You’re just thinking of them as friends and peers.”
Gianluca Russo is a writer and columnist based in Arizona. Follow him on Instagram @g_russo1.
Originally Appeared on Glamour