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Miriam Shor on Directing Younger for the First Time

Miriam Shor is one of Younger‘s MVPs. Empirical’s marketing director Diana Trout gets her intimidating steel and comedic bluster from Shor’s expert blending of hauteur and vulnerability. “I’m such a huge ham,” she says over the phone. Her favorite mark? The dignified Charles, of course. “Any time I make Peter [Hermann] laugh is my favorite.”

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Diana has been revisiting old flames and dealing with company crises in season 5, but we saw very little of our favorite chunky-necklace fan this episode. But, in fact, Shor’s influence was in every scene: The actress actually made her directorial debut on the episode.

ELLE.com talked to Shor about how she came to direct an episode of everyone’s favorite lying-about-your-age comedy, how far Diana has come, and going beyond Team Josh and Team Charles. And what’s next for the queen of giant neck jewellery? We might see her face off against one of Liza’s biggest antagonists. “I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about it,” Shor says, “but I get a moment later this season with Martha Plimpton [who plays Liza’s ex-colleague Cheryl Sussman] that’s pretty great. I can’t really say more than that, but we had a good time.”

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How long have you wanted to direct?

Starting last year, but for decades now I’ve had a lot of friends who have been on successful shows for long enough that they were afforded the opportunity to direct. More and more of my friends who were requesting that, most of them were men, which is…you know what it is.

But in the last couple of years, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been looking at my place in the business or my place in the world, specifically after this past year. I feel like a lot of women have been questioning their role in their workplaces and society, opportunities that they may have missed or haven’t spoken up for. I really questioned why I had not entertained the idea of directing before. I was like, Do I really not want to do this? Is that why, or is it because I don’t think I can or because I don’t think I’m worthy? If I’m really not interested at all, great, no worries, move on. But that was not the answer. I did what I think a lot of people do—a lot of women do: Say, well, I’m not really qualified.

So I finally said, Well, okay. You’re never any perfectly qualified for anything, but you’ve been doing this for decades, and you know this show better than anybody who’s going to come in, right? And I thought, You know what, screw it. I’m just gonna ask. I asked Darren Star [the creator and writer of Younger] and he said, Yeah, that’s great.

I had to let go of the idea that I was going to be perfect.

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How did you prepare?

Well, the idea has been percolating in my mind for a while. I asked a lot of questions during season 4, which I’m sure was very annoying. But I always like to hang out with whoever’s directing and watch what they do. I hang out at Video Village, the area where the directors and the writers and script advisors are.

Then I studied our show, which I knew very well, but I watched all the episodes again and really looked closely at the camera angles and the editing. If I was going to direct an episode of Younger, I wanted it to look like an episode of Younger. I was lucky, I had so much available to me. Then, being an A student, I had to get the good grade, I had to be prepared. I kept thinking of that—I’m sure you’ve heard of that thing, that women really have to feel 100 percent prepared to come into any situation but men can feel 60 percent prepared. I kept thinking of that. I have the best teachers all around me. I have the greatest crew. I have the greatest cast, who could not have been more behind this. I had everything at my disposal to learn as I was going. I had to let go of the idea that I was going to be perfect.

You know what helps? At a certain point, I think your mid-forties, you do let go of that. I’m also a parent—I’m a mom of two kids, and that is a learn-as-you-go situation in to the nth degree. It really opens your eyes to what you can achieve if you let yourself off the hook a little bit.

Miriam Shor directs an episode of Younger

Miriam Shor directs an episode of Younger

TV Land

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There was a big Josh and Liza moment at the end of the episode. In the first seasons of Younger, it was very “Team Josh or Team Charles”? But now it’s a bit more complicated and nuanced than that.

It’s a romantic comedy, ultimately, so of course the romance is going to be there. But what I really like about Josh and Liza’s relationship and how it’s developed this season—they’ve tried to stay friends, which is a challenging thing. Watching the emotions that that ebb and flow within that is interesting to me. So it’s not just about like, if she’s going to pick him. It’s about what is that friendship and what are the growing pains of it, and how hard is it?

What I liked in the scene between them was, yes, there was heartbreak there on his part, but there was also Liza trying to say to him, as someone who has gone through giving up her dream, say to him, don’t give up on something because of a person. Human relationships are what make it the most satisfying—the romance is the frosting and friendship is the cake, and the meal before.

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On to Diana. I was pretty excited to see Enzo (Chris Tardio) come back. Did you know that he was returning?

No, no, they tell us nothing. And they don’t always know—as writers they’re also creating as they go. But I did know he was a fan favorite, and that was something people always mentioned to me, that chemistry. Chris is a fantastic actor and brought a lot to that role. So I was really excited when he came back. There’s a lot about the character that brings out interesting things in Diana.

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She’s a little more relaxed and very pared back. On their date, she’s even wearing a really small necklace.

But did you notice the earrings? They were the size of one of the boroughs. They were bird cages with like actual little birds inside of them. Unbelievable. So I think that we just felt like we really needed to give the earrings their moment. Diana’s branching out into earring territory, bracelet territory.

There’ve been bruises, there’s been blood. Blood has been spilled for my fans.

But have you ever been able to not lift your arm or anything like that? Those things are sizable.

There have been. I’ve had many injuries. There’ve been bruises, there’s been blood. Blood has been spilled for my fans. There’s been some some jewelry that we just had be like, yeah, it’s not doable. I need also be able to, you know, talk and be in the scene. So as much as I want to wear these earrings, blood should not be involved. So we have to take them away.

Miriam Shor

TV Land

I love seeing Enzo treat Diana so well. She deserves somebody like that.

Relationships are about compromise, right? Always. It was interesting to watch Diana learn that in her last relationship. She didn’t realize how must she had compromised—like, too much. So she took back ownership of her self, which was a great moment last season, very empowering. She is simultaneously sort of relaxed, but also kind of off-balance and—he comes to her from a slightly different perspective. The writers are very good at showing kinks in her armor.

Diana is the last important person at Empirical who doesn’t know Liza’s secret. Do you have a theory about how it’s going to all play out?

Yeah, I do. Well, I have a fantasy. What I would love is for Diana to say that she knew, from the moment she hired her, and that she understands better than anybody what a woman has to do to get ahead in this business. So good for you and…go get my fucking coffee.

Younger screens on TV Land every Tuesday at 10 P.M.

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