Mild spoilers are ahead. For six seasons, Younger creator Darren Star painstakingly crafted one of TV’s most compelling, and divisive, love triangles. As we head into the seventh and final chapter, it sometimes feels like even the show itself doesn’t always know who should win Liza’s (Sutton Foster) heart: sensitive tattoo artist Josh (Nico Tortorella) or Charles (Peter Hermann), the charming publisher who proposed in the final moments of season 6. And according to Star, there isn’t a clear consensus within the Younger writers’ room, either.
“We’re not Team Charles, Team Josh. We’re sort of like, Team Liza. We think about what is right for Liza, what feels right for Liza, what’s important to Liza,” he told Refinery29 ahead of the final season premiere. “But there’s still a lot of debate in terms of the choices she makes and who her heart belongs to. So I think that’s a question that sort of remains unanswered until the final moments of the series.”
Younger’s love triangle works because neither Charles nor Josh is Liza’s perfect match, per se: They’re both perfect for her in very different ways, and at different turns. But in the show’s latest dispatch, the Charles-versus-Josh debate feels less relevant than ever. Josh is focused on navigating fatherhood and a possible new love interest; Charles, meanwhile, finds himself at the center of another love triangle, this time with Liza and billionaire investor Quinn (Laura Benanti). There are still scorching chemistry, steamy scenes, and sexual tension in spades, but season 7 proves that Younger — which is time and time again labeled a rom-com — was never really about Liza’s relationships. At least, not her romantic ones.
“We do think that Liza’s primary, most important relationship is with Kelsey,” Star said. “And certainly with her daughter.” It’s a sentiment that Liza echoes in season 3, when she finally confesses her real age to Kelsey (Hilary Duff), her work friend-turned-real friend (and professional partner). Liza’s under the influence when she comes clean to Josh, and Charles finds out the truth from someone else. But her emotional confession to Kelsey has a completely different, intentional tone.
“I couldn’t keep deceiving the people I love most,” Liza says. “And Kelsey, next to my own daughter and Maggie, you’re the most precious thing in the world to me.” Fast-forward two seasons and Liza proves this by promising, if it came down to that, that she’d choose Kelsey over Charles.
Over the seasons, we’ve seen Liza leave her dream job to protect Kelsey. We’ve watched her pull a Pretty Woman to apologize to her longtime friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar). After prickly, acerbic marketing head Diana (Miriam Shor) admits she’s always wanted to hold someone’s hand on the red carpet, she impulsively grabs Liza’s. Then, when Diana discovers Liza’s secret, she asks why a grown woman would choose to fetch her coffee and listen to her vent. Liza’s answer is simple: “I did all those things for you.” Star’s other projects (Sex and the City! Emily in Paris!) definitely emphasize the importance of friendship, but Younger shows that friendships between women deserve — and often have — the same meaningful, heartfelt apologies, gestures, and declarations we’ve come to expect from all romantic comedies.
“Her quest through all of this is to find satisfaction in her life, in her career,” Star says. “She’s a character who didn’t want to live a small life, and she wanted to live her full potential by any means necessary.” And it’s the women in her life — and her career — that have helped her get there.
When I asked whether Team Josh and Team Charles will both feel satisfied by the season finale, Star said, “I hope so.” Because the winning side, really, has always been Team Liza.
Younger season 7 is now streaming on Paramount+ and Hulu, with new episodes dropping on Thursdays.