Is This Sex Joke In The Younger Premiere Actually Funny?

Photo: Courtesy of Viacom.
There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to TV Land comedy Younger. It has some of the best female friendships on television. There’s an intense love triangle with two very handsome sides. And it brought Hilary Duff back to television. The show is forward-thinking, smart, and has some of the funniest writing on television. That’s why I was so taken aback during the Younger season 4 premiere, "Post Truth," when a sex "joke" took a strange turn out of nowhere.
The season opener deals with main character Liza (Sutton Foster) finally telling her work wife Kelsey (Duff) her huge secret: she’s a forty-something divorcée mum masquerading as a twenty-something. Instead of spilling Liza’s secret to their entire company, Kelsey realises she needs to make her best friend seem like an actual real, live millennial. And that means upping Liza's social media presence and SEO-friendliness. Kelsey enlists her pre-Liza BFF Lauren (Molly Bernard) to turn her business partner into a social media star. This is when things get weird.
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Lauren becomes jealous that Kelsey and Liza are "crying on each other’s shoulders" over their respective romance woes. Lauren wants them to know she has guy troubles too, even though she still has a boyfriend named Max (Ben Rappaport). "So, what — I’m odd woman out? You know, it’s not like my life is perfect," she reveals, confirming her man works crazy hours and gets home late. "There’s not even time for sex." This is a totally normal and important admission to share with your friends. But, the next thing Lauren says isn’t. "Last night, I sat on his nocturnal erection while he was sleeping, okay? In some cultures that would be considered rape." Somehow, that statement is supposed to come off as funny to a Younger viewer, but it really just sounds like Lauren sexually manipulated her sleeping boyfriend and knows it.
For sex to actually be sex, as opposed to assault, everyone involved has to give their willing, enthusiastic consent. A sleeping man can’t give willing consent — let alone enthusiastic consent — when he’s 10 minutes into his REM cycle. And it seems Max was definitely in the deepest part of his sleep cycle during the surprise "night wood" incident, since we reported earlier this year most men routinely get three to five erections a night, normally during REM sleep, as a way to keep their package’s tissue healthy. So, Lauren shouldn’t be recognising her boyfriend’s independent bodily functions as an invitation for her to sit on his erection. Really, no one should be sitting on anyone’s erection unless they’re specifically and directly asked. Liza reminds Lauren as much, saying her friend's behaviour would be considered rape in "pretty much every culture."
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Disturbing laws of consent continue in "Post Truth," when Younger’s own version of Kellyanne Conway, D.C. spin doctor Marylynne Keller (Kristin Chenoweth), goes out to dinner with Liza’s love interest and boss, Charles (Peter Hermann). The book editor tells Marylynne they should limit their conversation to the book she’s pitching, and the strategist replies, "And kissing." When Charles responds, "No," to the come-on, post-truth fan Marylynne says, "Oh, I’m hearing yes." She adds, "Words, you’re just saying words," as though things like words don’t matter. Again, someone ignoring the rules of consent doesn’t exactly feel funny.
With 11 much-awaited episodes of Younger season 4 ahead of us, fingers crossed these characters figure out what the difference between yes, no, and total and complete silence.
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