If you’re like me and have dedicated all your spare time to binging the last six seasons of Younger, I have two questions for you. One, are you on Team Josh or Team Charles, and two, what did we ever do without this show in our lives!?
If you don’t watch the show (shame on you – it’s a cracker) it follows the story of Liza, a 40-year-old single mum who after being mistaken for much younger than she really is attempts to reboot her career, and love life, as a 26-year-old.
It might sound like the kind of chick flick you’d watch on a Saturday night while inhaling a bottle of red and copious amounts of Indian takeaway, but it’s far more than that. Younger, which is now airing on Stan, has gained a cult following, covering everything from ageism to sexism, and how to navigate through a difficult decade of relationships, friendships, and career.
It’s this real life currency that Australian Joe Murphy clearly loves about his job as a writer for the hit show.
Murphy comes from Tangambalanga, a small town with a big name in north-eastern Victoria with a population of around 500. Before moving to the Big Apple, Murphy worked as a writer on Deal or No Deal, where he said colleagues made him a t-shirt which read, ‘From Tangambalanga to New York, the road never travelled.’
Perhaps it’s this humble beginning that has allowed Murphy to relate so personally to the characters on Younger, and put women first, which he says is a priority.
“We’ve got a fantastic feminist overtone,” he says of the show. “It’s really enjoyable to always make sure the women come first in the scenes – to understand what their headspace is, what their emotional journey is.”
“We always try to find ways to do it so it’s never a woman tearing another woman down,” he added, referring to writing scenes for one of Younger’s most pivotal characters, Diana Trout. She’s the Head of Marketing at a huge publishing company, and according to Murphy, “can come across as being callous and pretty savage, particularly with Liza.” But Diana is the perfect example of how layered we are as humans: while she can be brittle and cold, “there’s so much more going on under the surface.”
Another defining aspect of Younger are the many literary and pop culture references expertly woven throughout the show. No trend is spared, from nods to real life icons like Hector & Dorff (Viktor & Rolf) and Edward L.L. Moore (George R.R. Martin), to trending concepts like Pinx Underwear (Thinx) and The Nest (NYC social club The Wing).
Seriously, there are entire articles dedicated to picking these references out.
In the first episode of season six, Liza and Kelsey meet with an author about a business book called The Glass Cliff, which Murphy explains is about the real phenomenon that “women can be put in places of power, but only when a company is failing.”
“We used that to heighten Kelsey’s insecurities that she’s not going to be good enough to be publisher.” Murphy added that Younger writers are in constant contact with a publishing consultant who helps them nail the references and make sure the show stays grounded in reality. The cheeky Easter eggs are also the result of creator Darren Star’s love of reading and “having his finger on the pulse in the publishing and literary world.”
He might be the creator of Younger, but Darren Star is perhaps best known for being the mastermind behind Sex And The City which was also originally adapted from a book. While the shows are similar in many ways, Murphy makes it clear that they’re worlds, or more specifically decades, apart. “Social media has changed so much between Sex And The City and Younger.”
He says “it’s tricky to compare them because they were reflecting culture at a very different time,” however notes characters like Lauren as 2019’s answer to Sex And The City’s Samantha. Like Samantha, Lauren works in PR and acts as what Murphy refers to as the “shepherd” of the group, directing them to the “latest cool place.”
The only difference is, “Lauren is pansexual, she’s non judgemental, she’s a huge advocate for her girl besties,” which immediately brings Younger into this decade. “SATC was 25 years ago, we’ve all matured and become more woke.”
Working on Younger sounds like a dream job for Murphy, but it’s something he believes all young Aussie writers can do. “Write and keep writing, never stop writing, and apply for the Green Card in the lottery because that’s what I did, and I won!”
“Americans love Australians – we can thank Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman for that. We’re hard-working, we’ve got the right attitude, and we’re fun to be stuck in a room with.”
We also love Younger and now we can rest easy knowing it puts women first, there’s even more reason to binge watch.
Oh, and as for Liza’s on-again, off-again relationship with her younger ex Josh, Murphy says they have a “lovely moment this season” (soz, Team Charles). “A big part of their relationship not moving forward was this constant nagging fear she was holding Josh back from being a father, and having that pathway…she couldn’t get past her guilt.”
Spoiler alert: Josh became a father this season, so watch this space!