Molly Bernard plays Lauren Heller and Miriam Shor plays Diana Trout on TV Land’s Younger. I sat down with them at the recent ATX Television Festival to talk about their responsibilities as actors in the changing political climate, what’s coming up in season four, and their all-time favorite television shows. Check out what they had to say below.
In the panel, you all were talking about how Younger subtly addresses what is going on in the real world. Specifically, you talked about exploring truth on the show. I live in DC and it’s been an overwhelming four years there to say the least. A lot of times, I turn to television as an escape from the real world, but I also don’t want my favorite shows to completely ignore that aspect of reality either. So as an actor, I was curious about whether or not you feel any sort of responsibility to approach your role differently, even though Younger is not outwardly political?
Molly Bernard: I do, always. For me, as an actress, it is imperative that my ethics match my art. And I think a part of my ethics include, just naturally, politics. I think some people would disagree with that, but I think as artists and actors you have a voice and you have a certain audience. To use that responsibly, and for the good, I think is great.
Miriam Shor: Which is not to say that your characters have to have the same moral compass that you do.
Molly: Definitely not.
Miriam: But they have to tell their story, and what are those stories you are choosing to tell? And there are times… I’m sure you have, and I know I have in this show and in other shows, fought for something in the story I believed in because it mattered to me, as Miriam. One of those things might be a choice that Diana makes that they were like, “Oh I don’t know. Is that a sad thing for a woman to make?” And I might stand up and be like, “Why would that be sad? Explain to me why that’s sad that Diana made to not be with a man” or something like that. I feel responsible to tell those stories, especially because Diana is representing an older generation of women and I am 45. So I want to make sure that we’re not disparaging of 45-year-old women, that we tell the truth. That’s not to say that we don’t have insecurities or difficulties; we’re kind of finding our way in a world that idolizes youngsters. But I feel responsible to that.
Molly, you teased at the panel that something dramatic and crazy is going to happen to Lauren at some point in season four. But, as of now, she seems to be stable; she has her boyfriend and her successful career. So I’m curious, for both of you, what is it like as an actor to play out the transition from one extreme arc to the next, all in the same season?
Molly: Well, what’s great about being on an episodic television show is that you don’t really know what’s going to happen week to week. We get two episodes at a time. And so that is, I think, of all the art forms, closest to real life, because you don’t know that you’re going to walk out of this building and run into an ex-boyfriend. You just can’t plan for that stuff, so it is great that I don’t know what is going to happen because then I can really dive into it. Because I can be [a person who does] too much prep. If I knew what was going to happen to Lauren later this season, if I knew that would happen [when we were shooting] the first episode, I probably would have done things differently. I don’t think it would be as surprising.
Miriam: And also it’s really a fun challenge to be like, “Ok. I’m whole-hog into what the story is you gave me” and then you get another story that just jerks you the other way and you think, “Ok. That’s life.” The challenge is then to figure out how you’re going to realistically do that. And it’s fun. It’s a challenge that is super fun.
Molly: And honestly, it’s the one part — I mean, I graduated from the Yale School of Drama.
Miriam: [jokes] Never heard of it.
Molly: I really thought I would be a downtown theatre nerd. I only wanted to work in theatre.
Miriam: Which you have done.
Molly: I did, I did do theatre. Theatre is the great love of my life. But I had no idea that I would have this kind of a career and the greatest joy, among many of the greatest joys about learning how to be on a set and learning how to create a tv show, is I don’t know what the eff is going to happen from the beginning of the season to the mid[dle] to the end. It’s honestly so cool.
Miriam: It’s really fun. It’s like unwrapping a gift every time we open a script.
Molly: Every time I get an email and it is a script I’m like, “AHHHH.”
Miriam: No matter what I’m doing, I stop to read them.
Molly: Yeah, I get so excited to read them.
Molly, for you, how does Kelsey learning Liza’s secret impact the friendship for the three ladies? Is Lauren now put in an awkward middle situation?
Molly: There are a couple of scenes where Lauren doesn’t directly say anything. There is the scene in the first episode, in the cafe. I’m definitely with Kelsey being like, “Why are you so…”
Like why are there secrets being kept from me?
Molly: Exactly. But there is no… Lauren stays kind of blissfully ignorant.
Miriam: Well, she’s much like Diana in that she’s like, “Well, that’s interesting, but my life is so very interesting to me.” [laughs] But what’s interesting is that Diana knows at work, because when they come into work it’s noticeable, and she definitely catches it, clocks it and takes some interest in it and takes Liza aside to talk to her about certain things. It’s interesting.
Has there ever been a millennial reference that you had no clue what it was or questioned whether it was even a real thing?
Molly: Honestly a lot of them.
Miriam: All of them. [laughs] Like what is Salt Bae?
Molly: I don’t know.
Miriam: No idea. Do you know?
I know it’s some kind of meme. I think it’s a video too, but I really don’t know.
Miriam: Right. And we have this whole thing about like what a meme is and I’m literally like, “No, I know.” And then as I’m saying, “I know,” it is slipping out of my grasp and I have no idea what it is.
Molly: Some of them the writers do make up. I think they did make up “dopplebanger.”
Miriam: Which is fantastic.
Molly: I say “dopplebanger” this season to describe Kelsey, which is perfect.
Miriam: Cause she keeps picking the same kind of guy to…you know. I mean there’s a lot of them that make me feel, “Oh, wait. Am I just old?” And then [Molly] will pipe up and be like, “No, I have no idea what that is.” And then I’m like, “Oh, good. I thought I was super out of touch, but no.”
Molly: Sometimes Hillary [Duff] will ask me, “Where have you been living? Under a rock?” And I’m like, “Apparently.”
Miriam: I think it’s a toss up between Hillary or Nico who are sort of “on it.”
Obviously we’re here at ATX celebrating the world of television. What are some of your favorite all-time television shows?
Miriam: First of all, I just need to go off about Handmaid’s Tale right now.
Molly: I am obsessed. I can’t stop watching it. It’s one of the most brilliant things.
Miriam: Yes, absolutely.
Molly: I am shocked.
Molly: I’m obsessed. I’m in awe. Literally. Not this week’s episode, but last week’s. I haven’t seen this last episode.
Miriam: I haven’t seen this last episode either.
Molly: I’ve been busy working. But the week before — have you seen it?
Miriam: No. I’m behind two episodes.
Molly: No. Okay.
Miriam: But look how excited we get.
Molly: The first one you’ll watch…it ended and my jaw dropped, and it stayed dropped for the remainder of the credits.
Miriam: [laughs] Flies flying in.
Molly: I had to be like, “Molly, pick it up.”
Miriam: That show has made me examine my own perspective of the world. And it’s a television show. I feel like we’re heading into a golden age of television right now because you are realizing the complexity of the stories you can tell when it’s serialized. And now that the platforms are no longer just network, it’s opened up a whole can of worms.
Molly: You can do so much.
Miriam: That said Freaks and Geeks is one of my all-time favorite shows.
Molly: Arrested Development is one of my favorites.
Miriam: And I think growing up I loved television shows. I mean The Muppet Show opened my world.
One of my favorites.
Miriam: Sesame Street.
Molly: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, um, um, um, um, [sings] “This is the song that never ends”….. Lambchop was my favorite show growing up. All-time favorite.
That was a great show. I forgot about that show.
Miriam: And you’re seeing that. There was a young woman in panel who said, “Every stage of my life, Darren Star [creator of Younger], you’ve had a show for me,” which I was so moved by. I feel like television can do that, it can be that. It’s not just the Looney Tunes.
Molly: I will say I had the craziest, most surreal experience of my life. One of my favorite TV shows is Transparent and I am a guest star on it in season three and four.
Miriam: Wait, can you talk about it?
Molly: Yeah. I play a young Judith Light. I play young Shelly.
Miriam: Are you kidding me?
Molly: Yeah. And getting to be on that set and working with them is like unbelievable. It’s my favorite show.
Season 4 of Younger premieres June 28 at 10 pm on TV Land.
Photos by Waytao Shing