(Warning: This post contains spoilers from Younger's Season 5 premiere. Read at your own risk.)
When Younger's Edward L.L. Moore (Richard Masur) made unwanted advances towards Liza (Sutton Foster) at the end of last season, his behavior was brushed off as the antics of a dirty old man. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the series re-examined that storyline with Moore finally getting the reckoning he deserved in the Season 5 premiere.
The episode saw the author accused of sexual misconduct and Liza initially insisted that he never crossed a line. It wasn't until she spoke with other women Moore harassed that she realized just how inappropriate he'd been, leading her to convince Charles (Peter Hermann) to take those allegations seriously. The watershed moment led to Empirical shelving Moore's books — plus, that shocking reveal — and reaffirmed the show's impeccable ability to tackle heavy social issues with the perfect infusion of humor.
But when you have a workplace dramedy made up of a predominately female cast, taking on sexual harassment isn't just a natural occurrence, it's also a necessary story to tell. Especially now, with the #MeToo movement permeating through every corner of the pop cultural zeitgeist. "To not talk about it feels like being disingenuous at this point. You talk about women in the workplace and you don't talk about sexual harassment right now? Then you're not being truthful," Miriam Shor told TV Guide.
Added Hilary Duff, "I don't think the writers would have gone there without having the #MeToo [movement] hit the way that it did... Obviously, it's a very serious subject and amazing that all of it is coming to a head, but our show [handled it with humor] and he got his."
While Moore did get what's coming to him, he wasn't the only man on the show to have their behavior scrutinized. The premiere also featured a quick but important moment in which Charles asks Liza if she ever felt that he'd been inappropriate with her, and she assures him he wasn't. It's true, Charles has never used his position to get with Liza. However, he's not just her love interest, he's also her boss and that imbalance of power presents a tricky dynamic.
"We all have to look at that, too, and how we have fetishized this idea of the boss and what we find attractive in a man or a person in power," said Shor. "It's interesting to be able to scrutinize the boss/employee relationship," Foster added, noting that Charles has never abused his power.
However you interpret their relationship, it's pretty clear that Younger isn't afraid of traversing through these dangerous social minefields while also managing to stay true to its lighthearted nature, and that's what makes it one of the best shows on television.
Younger air Tuesdays at 10/9c on TVLand.