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Is The Show Younger Commenting on a Harsh Reality?

Ageism in the workforce isn’t real, right? Older workers are just being dramatic? And if it is real, it has only been an issue in the past few years?

Then why is there a 2015 sit-com called Younger in which the main character of 40 pretends to be in her 20s to land a job in publishing following her divorce?

That’s right - AND it was based off of a book from 2005. Not only has ageism in the workplace been a chronic issue, but Darren Star (the writer behind Sex and The City and Emily in Paris) thought it to be prevalent enough to write a whole network television show about it.

Sutton Foster plays main character Liza Miller, a single and freshly divorced mother who believes she has no prospects to get a job whose candidates fit that criteria. So, she does what any rational person would do - she pretends to be 26 to land a publishing job. Liza is then launched into a millennial haze with newfound hurdles, friendships (one of which is Lizzy Maguire vet Hilary Duff!), and romances all while keeping up the ruse that she is, in fact, 26.

While Younger requires a heavy dose of suspension of disbelief, real adults certainly have crises like Liza’s all the time. Workers are actually editing their resumes - taking out college graduation years, “old” jobs, and omitting any conversations about their children during a job interview in an effort to seem younger to increase their chances of landing the job. If pretending to be a rowdy 25 year old whose main enthusiasm about the job is the sick happy hour around the corner is what lands them the job, so be it.

This is no joke. In 2018, the AARP conducted a “Value of Experience” study in which they evaluated how workers over 40 experience age discrimination in the workplace. When asked about how they believe their age affects their likelihood of getting a job, 76% indicated that they think it will take even longer to find a new job solely because of their age. Even worse, 61% of the respondents said they had either “seen or experienced” age-based discrimination at their place of work and 38% categorized it as “very common.”

So Yes, Younger is a funny coming-of (later) age show that is mainly meant to make people laugh, but how fictional is it really? How about we work toward a world in which a woman doesn’t have to lie about her age to land a job, or one where she doesn’t feel that she has an expiration date. In the workplace “younger” often translates to “better.” We need to shatter these stereotypes in and outside of the tech industry.

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