Season 2 of “Younger” gives queer characters Maggie and Lauren more to work with

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Season 1 of TVLand’s dramedy Younger introduced a new direction for the network, rebranding itself with a slate of shows that were hipper, more contemporary and, well, younger. The series stars Sutton Foster as a 40-year-old new divorcee named Liza, who is encouraged by her best friend, a lesbian artist named Maggie (Debi Mazar), to lie about her age to get a job at a major publishing house and date a 26-year-old tattoo artist, Josh. By the end of the first season, Josh found out Liza’s secret but everyone who worked with her, including coworker and friend Kelsey (Hilary Duff), are still under the impression Liza is in her late 20s, and that Maggie is just a much-older friend she hangs out with.

Last season, Maggie hooked up with Lauren (Molly Bernard), a sexually fluid friend of Kelsey’s whose priority is to have fun. In Season 2, which premieres tonight at 10/9c, Maggie returns as Liza’s biggest confidant and support system and gets a little more action of her own.

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“When I read the script, I thought the obvious character they’d want me for was the Miriam Schor role,” Debi said, referencing Liza and Kesey’s uptight boss. “I had just come off of Entourage, and I usually play the chick in the power suit. I never assumed I’d go up for Maggie, and when they asked me to come back for Maggie, I was like ‘Really!?’ I was so excited to go in for the character who is kind of like the person who doesn’t have to worry about what she’s wearing and who doesn’t have to prove anything; the person who doesn’t have to be a hard-ass at all times.”

2016 Winter TCA PortraitsPhoto by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portraits

Debi, who has played many memorable roles in film and television throughout her career, says she has played a lesbian several times before, but she finds Maggie a departure from the parts she’s usually typecast in.

“I think my character is strong. She’s a very good friend; she tells it like it is,” Debi said. “But it’s so great for once for me to not play the girl who stomps in in, like, five-inch heels in the power suit, every day, and I get to be freer in the character. I also like that i”m playing a lesbian which is really nice for me as a departure from playing other characters. I get to work with really wonderful women and have great scenes with other ladies. Just explore the dynamic of Maggie’s sexuality and where she’s going with it.”

In Season 2, Maggie continues to help her best friend Liza with her mid-life crisis but also makes time for some fun with Lauren, a role created just for Molly Bernard after creator Darren Star loved her work in the pilot. What was supposed to be a one-off turned into nine episodes for Molly and her queer character.

“It’s just been the craziest ride,” Molly said. “And Lauren is one of the best characters on TV. She’s just wild and crazy and fierce and smart and is just fiercely who she is, uncompromisingly so.”

2016 Winter TCA PortraitsPhoto by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portraits

Molly, a recent graduate of Yale Drama School, said she was thrilled her first-ever love scene was with Debi Mazar.

“I was just totally psyched,” Molly said. “I’ve never had a love scene with a man and so in a way it felt really right to have a love scene with a woman. And of all women, Debi, who is just really, really, aside from being gorgeous and talented, she’s so kind, and just so supportive. It was easy. It was surprisingly one of my favorite days on set.”

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