'Younger': Miriam Shor Zeroes in on the Secret to TV Land Dramedy's Success (Exclusive)

The actress, who directs Wednesday's episode, talks to ET about the latest obstacle in Liza and Charles' budding romance.

Six seasons in, Younger remains one of summer's can't-miss shows. The secret to the TV Land dramedy's sustained success? Embracing the quick-witted workplace comedy shenanigans and leaning into the complicated web of juicy romantic entanglements. Or, as series star Miriam Shor explains it, have a roomful of writers unafraid to go there

"One of the things that episodic television can do that no other form of storytelling can really do is continue stories and take them to places you didn't know they were going to go," Shor, who plays the unflappable and always stylish marketing guru Diana Trout, tells ET. "We can expand stories and explode stories and just see what's around the next corner, instead of having to stop. The writers of this show have been phenomenal at that, continuing to make it compelling, interesting and fun."

On Wednesday's episode, directed by Shor, Liza confronts Charles about starting a competing publishing house, Mercury, with former Empirical editor Zane, while Kelsey scrambles to figure out a plausible Plan B to win back hot author (and maybe murderer?) Audrey Colbert from their unexpected competitors. The resolution to Kelsey/Liza/Diana versus Charles/Zane comes to a head and resets the playing field for the rest of the season. (Watch ET's exclusive sneak peek above, featuring Hilary Duff's Kelsey and Molly Bernard's Lauren as they discuss a stressed-out Kelsey's dating app fails.)

Ahead of the latest installment, Shor, 47, hopped on the phone with ET for a chat about her second time stepping behind the camera on Younger, why the long-running TV Land series continues to find its creative stride and what to expect from this week's game-changing episode.

ET: Getting to step behind the camera a second time, how much more comfortable were you this time around then you were maybe the first time? 

Miriam Shor: I definitely had a lot more knowledge under my belt of what I was getting into directing an episode, but on the other hand, I felt a little more stressed because I thought, "I'm going to get a bit of a break because it was my first episode." But in the second episode, they're really going to look at, "Well, can she really do this?" So I put more pressure on myself in that way the second time around. That said, I knew what I was doing a lot more and I had a better understanding of what this was. While it was an episode of Younger and I know the visual language of our show really well, it was a different episode, so I had to think about how I wanted to tell that story. It was a bigger challenge because I was in a lot more of it. In the first episode I directed, I was only in one scene. That was another giant learning curve that was challenging, fun, exciting and difficult.

The character of Diana Trout is one of the more unique characters I've seen on television. Is that your feeling too?

I love this character. I love getting to continue to play this character and what challenges she faces, how it changes her and how she grapples with it. When you were first introduced to her, you felt like she fit into this category of characters that you know really well, which is the terrifying, b****y boss. We've all sort of seen that character and so she's familiar to us. And she's fun. But what I love about Diana Trout is that the writers have given her a greater dimension to that. She has vulnerabilities. She has a level of empathy that comes as a surprise. The fun of Diana comes from the things you love about her and come to expect of her, but also the things that surprise you and challenge you about her that surprises Diana herself. That's the fun of it. 

I really love those moments when you see Diana's vulnerability or you see her make a decision that other writers wouldn't have made [on other shows]. They would have just let her be the b****y boss. It's been so fun to get to really become a three-dimensional person too. Through the relationships that you see developing between Diana and Liza, and Diana and Kelsey, and Diana and Enzo, you get to see these other sides to her that only make her more interesting and more fun to watch.

What has surprised you recently about Diana that you didn't think about when you first started playing her?

I love her relationship with Enzo because that continually surprises her. She thinks at this point in her life that she knows exactly who she is and exactly what she wants. Enzo comes into the picture and challenges that. He's like, "You think you want someone like Charles, but you're in love with me." You can have all the perfect qualities for the person you want to fall in love with on paper, but that isn't what life is going to give you. And it isn't necessarily what's right for you. Sometimes you don't realize the right person for you until you meet them, and I love that aspect of storytelling.

I love how fiercely she protects and guards her friendship with Liza, how deep that's become, and how hurt she can be by Liza, which you see in the first episode when she finds out about Liza and Charles. That's not about her jealousy of Charles in any way, that's about her feeling betrayed by her friend and her struggling with that. I love those moments that they give us and the way back to that connection is through singing Dolly Parton['s "9 to 5"] at Marie's Crisis, which I just love. 

Liza (Sutton Foster) and Diana (Miriam Shor) discuss an important matter with Kelsey (Hilary Duff) on Wednesday's episode of 'Younger.' - TV Land

It's been interesting to chart her journey from the beginning of the show, where Diana had this idea in her head that she was meant to be with Charles. That they would be a power couple. And it's also been fascinating to see Diana and Liza's relationship go from the two being on an uneven playing field to them now being equals and maybe even friends. 

To watch a mutual friendship and respect develop as opposed to... a lot of times what we see is a continuation of catty feuds. I don't know why, but culturally we just love women to be feuding with each other. Whether it be our pop stars or characters in soap operas, we just want feuds. We want to watch women feud in a way that we don't want to watch men do it. And it's not that people don't do that and women don't do that. Of course there's truism to that. But we've seen it so much, so it's fun to be a show that explores the opposite of that. Instead of women being catty and feuding with each other, they have a deeper admiration for each other and a deep friendship and they become each other's supporters, which is how my relationships with women have played out in my life. I like seeing that our show celebrates that. It doesn't mean that there aren't bumps in the road or that there aren't difficulties as there are in all relationships and that there aren't problems, because there are. But I like that that's a part of the exploration of our story -- these friendships between these women, at work and outside of work. 

With Kelsey being the new face of Millennial and the big boss now, the company isn't exactly at the height of its success. From Diana's perspective, what is her feeling about where this company is going and how does she think Kelsey is doing as the boss?

In this episode that I directed, a lot of it is about Kelsey grappling with the incredible stress of being a boss in an industry that is in a precarious spot right now -- and as a young woman who is being observed and judged for her every choice and move, and the incredible stress that comes along with that. When you become the head of a company, of course you're going to be under scrutiny. I think we all know that when a woman is up for a position of running a company or running a country, she's under an exorbitant amount of scrutiny. 

What was interesting was to be in a position to follow this journey that Kelsey is going on, that Hilary is doing such a wonderful job of both comedically and dramatically with, is that it somewhat mirrored the tensions I was feeling as a director and pressure I was feeling to get things right. So I really relate to what Kelsey was going through because I was also going through that as a director on some level. And then, you see these three women really coming together and realizing that not only are they going to have to band together to help this company but they're going to have to band together because they're going to be in direct competition with Charles, the former head of this company.

Let's talk about Charles and Zane teaming up and forming Mercury, which was revealed at the end of the last episode. How does having new competition in the marketplace potentially shift Kelsey, Liza and Diana's approach at Millennial?

It's really smart on the part of the writers because what it does is it ups the ante. The stakes are so much higher emotionally because [Kelsey, Liza and Diana] want [Millennial] to do well and they want to go after the competition with everything they have, but when the competition is someone who they have valued so greatly, that really makes it complicated, which makes it more interesting to me emotionally and as a fan of the show. I feel like the writers keep upping the ante every season, which I'm like, how? How do you do that season after season? Making it Charles and Zane, who are in direct competition with them, it makes it all the more complicated and all the more interesting and all the more fraught.

Especially for Liza and Charles. 

You knew it wasn't going to be easy walking off into the sunset.

Diana's one of the last characters on the show who isn't aware that Liza isn't the age she says she is. Has that become a running joke at this point?

I know! Look, Lauren and Zane also don't know. But that tension is still there and that's something that the writers definitely fool with and play with. The writers are not afraid of telling stories where crazy, emotional things are revealed, as you can see in the first episode when Liza just Broadway belts, "I'm the one who's having an affair with Charles!" out to the entire company. But yeah, it's definitely dealt with in season six and to great effect. I've had my favorite seasons that I've got to do all through the whole series in season six. One of them being the Dolly Parton, "9 to 5" karaoke moment. But there are other ones too that... they pulled out all the stops and you're like, "Wow, OK. Well done, people. Well done." 

Younger returns Wednesday, July 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TV Land.


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