The Younger love triangle Liza (Sutton Foster) often finds herself in is, frankly, pretty sweet. And while she no longer has doting tattoo artist Josh (Nico Tortorella) on the line, Liza still has the attention of a wealthy businessman... who just happens to be her boss's boss. This week, that attention fully crosses over the line into inappropriate territory.
Last season ended with Liza and Josh almost getting engaged — but Younger has always been planting the seeds for Liza and Empirical Publishing head honcho Charles (Peter Hermann) to be endgame. She gets along with his kids. And his kids aren't super young, which is a plus for Liza, who doesn't want to have more kids with Josh, a major source of tension in their relationship. (She already has a daughter from her now-over marriage.) Liza and Charles really do seem to complete each other; they're both "old souls" and have similar literary tastes.
In the season 2 finale, Charles went with a classic rom-com move. He chased after Liza at her new mall job in New Jersey, convincing her to come back to Empirical and locking lips with her along the way. Was that inappropriate for the head of a publishing house? Of course. Could someone lower on the totem pole (and who wasn't interested in romantically pursuing her) have convinced Liza to come back? Yes. But Younger isn't exactly strict with adhering to realistic storylines. It was kind of weird that someone as high up as Charles was pursuing Liza — but it was also a cute and harmless romantic scene!
At least, that's how I saw it back then. And as much as I want to be Team Charles now... I just can't. Because here's where we are in season 4: Charles is still a company head pursuing a low-level employee. Oh, and he still thinks she's in her 20s.
As Charles' lawyer friends pointed out to him in season 3, his pursuit of Liza is a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. Liza may have a different perspective since she's (secretly) the same age as Charles, but it's still an HR violation.
If Charles knew Liza's real age, it would make things a little less weird. But he's still a higher-up, pursuing someone he thinks is a 20-something assistant. And he continues to pursue her after repeatedly saying he won't. That's a pretty uncomfortable power dynamic.
That unequal relationship came to a head in this week's episode, "A Close Shave." After seeing Liza out with Jay, another 40-something in the publishing business, Charles explodes at Liza. His outburst is completely inappropriate in general, but it's especially shocking coming from the head of a major company.
It's clear that Charles' anger isn't just because of Liza's date. Empirical also just lost Edward L.L. Moore, one of the publisher's top-earning authors, to a rival publishing house.
"I don't know how I'm going to replace our biggest earner. I don't know how I'm going to make payroll next month. And I don't know why you're dating a 40-something guy in publishing who isn't me," Charles says to Liza, red-faced.
In any other context, a company head saying this to an underling employee would 100% be guilty of harassment. Liza knows Charles' feelings. He's expressed them plenty of times. Her real age doesn't change the fact that he's behaving totally inappropriately as a boss. Younger wants us to believe Liza and Charles are the perfect couple — but he clearly has some issues to work through first.
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