Alison Brown is a writer and co-producer on Younger. I sat down with her at the recent ATX Festival to talk about season four of Younger, how today’s political climate affects her job as a television writer and producer and some of her dream guest appearances. Check out the interview below.
In the panel you all were talking about how Younger so subtly addresses what is going on in the real world, and you guys were specifically talking about it with this idea of truth that you explore 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 from the real world but I also don’t want my favorite shows to completely ignore the aspect of reality either. So I’m curious, as a writer, how much is this idea on your conscience, especially after November?
I feel like you said it really well. You watch TV to escape, to be entertained. But you’re right, you don’t want TV to live in this other world. We felt the same way. We wanted to say something. I know when I interviewed for this job I was so excited because I felt like this was a show that says something and can say something. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s empowering, and you can still can say things. But you don’t want to hit people over the head because they are watching to be entertained. We could have done three episodes with [Liza telling the truth to Kelsey and revealing her secret to others in her life]; we could have had an arc. And it was like, “You know. I think just one will do it” and then move on. But we’re going to do it. Because it’s our show, and our show is about lying and what is real.
Right. And like you said, especially with what’s going on you can’t not [address it] in some way shape or form.
But then for a while Kellyanne Conway disappeared and we were all like, “Uh oh.” [laughs]
Going off of Liza and her secret, she can’t keep it forever, although she’s kept it longer than I honestly thought she would. I was curious how necessary is Liza’s secret to making Younger work and what it is? Do you guys know whether it is something you are going to completely reveal sooner rather than later?
We don’t know when we’re going to reveal, but I don’t think it’s necessary to the show. I think especially now, after this season when we go deeper into her relationships with everyone, it’s those relationships you’re watching and Kelsey knows now. And it’s still good. I mean, after a while I think you kind of felt bad. It’s like, “Kelsey has to know.” So I think we’re going to start feeling that way about Charles, maybe Diana. I think eventually she’s going to have to come clean, but I think we’re going to have story.
In terms of Kelsey, she and Josh are the only ones who know the trust. Obviously, their common denominator in their friendship was Liza.
It’s still Liza.
It’s still Liza, but she’s physically removed from the situation. What was the conversation like in the writer’s room to have Josh and Kelsey, for lack of a better word, find solace in one another?
It made sense but it was tough. There were a lot of debates in the beginning about what that meant, how far do they get involved, how do they get involved, etc. I feel like the core relationship is Liza and Kelsey, and I think all the writers feel very protective of that. But Liza did this. She kind of put them in this position.
One of my favorite things about Younger is the guest appearances, whether it be Kristin Chenoweth in the season four premiere or other authors. Is there someone that you are dying to write for and have join the cast?
I haven’t thought about that. I don’t know. I think it would be cool to have a big author come join the show.
Because obviously you guys have done spin-offs, for lack of a better term, with … I don’t remember who wrote Game of Thrones.
George R.R. Martin.
Right. And then you had a version of him [Edward L.L. Moore] in Younger but you didn’t have him.
It would be cool to get a J.K. Rowling. That would be amazing. I wrote a whole scene with a big a famous author because we were going to try and get him, and we tried but didn’t get him so we had to cut that scene… so you can write it and then ask.
I’m curious about how much research you guys in the writers’ room do into the millennial aspects that make up such a big part of the show. Is there ever anything that you’ve found out in that process and were surprised was actually real?
No, because we know. We have a couple millennial writers on staff, and that’s part of why they are there. They have a great voice, and “truffle butter” was literally a shirt one of them was wearing We were like, “Oh, we’re definitely putting that into the show.”
Obviously we’re here at ATX celebrating the world of television. What are you watching now and what are some of your all-time favorite television shows?
Designing Women is my all-time favorite show. Golden Girls I love. I love female ensembles so that was like in my wheelhouse. Orphan Black I’m watching. I’m watching House of Cards. I tend to watch a lot of dramas.
Because you deal with comedy on a day-to-day basis and it’s part of your 9-to-5?
Maybe. No, I feel like…
That’s just what you are attracted to?
Yeah. It’s what seems real to me, and I feel like we deal with it… Darren [Star, creator of Younger] said a really smart thing a while back: “If there is a joke on the show, then the characters all have to laugh.” I feel like that makes sense to me. Sitcoms, people will say a joke, and it’s how they are supposed to really talk. But that isn’t how people really talk. Darren wants to write how we really talk, and I really appreciate that. That’s kind of what I really want to watch.
Oh, off-topic but it just came to me — John Irving was the big author I wrote a scene for that didn’t come. We were going to the Hamptons and were like, “Oh he lives out there, let’s try to get him. It’ll be convenient.” But he was just like, “No.”
Season 4 of Younger premieres June 28 at 10pm.