TV

Charles Vs Josh: Who Is The Better ‘Younger’ Love Interest?

We've enlisted some experts to help settle the score.

Younger

Spoilers for season 5 of Younger ahead!

In Younger, the greatest show in the entire world, the sweet, deceitful Liza is given the option of two handsome men to love. The internet — nay, the world — is divided on the topic of who our sweet temptress will finally pick: the handsome Charles or the hot Josh.

Unlike a lot of love triangles, there’s truly a wealth of difference between the two. Josh is a naive, dumb-dumb 25-year-old tattoo artist with arms and abs for days, while Charles is a wealthy, successful older gentlemen, distinguished and smouldering and cultured and a lil’ bit bland.

We’re up to season five, and the tension is STILL high — who will Liza choose?

It’s clear that Charles and Josh speak to very different desires. So, with that in mind, Junkee has recruited two experts — relationships lecturer and author Dr Jodi McAlister, who is often referred to as “Dr Love”, and Kate Cuthbert, the Managing Editor of romance and erotic novel imprint Escape Publishing — to help us decide once and for all which guy is the better option.

Josh

“Josh unreservedly thinks Liza is beautiful,” points out Dr McAlister. She notes that he’s the catalyst for the entire Younger ploy in the first place, mistaking Liza for a 26-year-old in a bar and inspiring her to become a career liar.

“But that’s definitely part of why Josh is so appealing: he thinks, ‘oh wow, here is a beautiful woman’, not ‘oh wow, there’s an old lady’. For women who have been told that they’re ancient and un-fuckable the instant they turn 30, that appreciation has some appeal.”

Kate Cuthbert agrees, noting that “Josh is super easy going and non-judgemental. When Liza’s secret comes out, it’s her lies not her age that upset him.” He’s such a good boy!

It’s precisely that easy-going Labrador energy that keeps Josh attractive. He is not a lot of work.

“Unlike her last — exhausting — relationship, Josh comes with no baggage, no strings, no nothing.” says Dr McAlister. “Instead, Josh comes with the promise of great sex and good times. He’ll sit in the car and entertain himself while Liza drinks numerous glasses of wine with her suburban bookclub, and it’s not even really a big deal to him.”

He’s also a refreshing glass of cool water, for a woman who has been trapped in a shitty marriage out in suburbia.

“Josh introduces Liza to new things (even though he might grumble when he discovers that some of the things he thought he could introduce her to she’s already done, cough anal cough). Importantly, he’s also fine with Liza introducing him to new things — it’s not a one-way mansplanation, but a genuine exploratory partnership,” says Dr McAlister.

Kate Cuthbert notes that a lot of that exploratory partnership happens in the bedroom.

“He’s clearly tried every sexual escapade there is, but he doesn’t shame Liza for her relative inexperience and he offers to take her through anything she wants to try at her pace, which is very sexy.”

They both note that he is SUPER HOT AND GOOD IN BED, and that “he’s covered in tattoos, has well-defined arms, masters that whole artful stubble thing, AND he takes off his shirt at the drop of a hat.”

Mmm. Good point.

Seems perfect to me, with his downsides being that he hates reading (aka, Liza’s greatest passion) and is “sweet, but he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” as Cuthbert rather eloquently puts it.

Charles

When it comes to Charles, Doctor Love points out that unlike with Josh, there’s a more cerebral connection between him and Liza, rather than just animal attraction.

“Charles appreciates and respects Liza for her mind. He falls for her in spite of himself — in spite of the fact that she’s apparently a young, hot 20-something, not because of it. The reason he falls for her is because of the way her mind works, not because of the way she looks.”

Dr McAlister continues:

“Most importantly, he listens when she talks, and he respects what she has to say, because she’s a human and she’s good at her job, not because he’s attracted to her. For women who are constantly talked over and implicitly and explicitly told their opinions don’t matter, this is a big deal.”

Kate Cuthbert also agrees, noting that Charles and Liza have tons in common and great chemistry.

“He’s supportive of the women around him — in their careers and in their lives. He gives Kelsey Millenial and cuts his best-selling author because of his treatment of women.”

Also in direct opposition to Josh, Charles is NOT an easy, breezy relationship. But as Dr McAlister points out, that’s actually in his favour. “Charles is a ton of work, but god, he’d be worth it. In just about any romance novel you can think of, there’s an obstacle between the protagonists, the reason that they can’t be together. In fact, the 20th century historian of love Denis de Rougemont says ‘happy love has no history’ — that is, you can’t tell the story of a happy relationship, because it’d be boring as hell.

“There are so many obstacles piled up between Charles and Liza that there has to be an overwhelmingly strong attraction and love to be worth it… and the simmering, barely leashed (but vv respectful passion) Charles has for Liza seems to suggest that maybe it would be.”

I don’t think we can forget that his downsides include having a hectic amount of baggage and being her BOSS (which is a HR nightmare), and takes her lies entirely personally, rather than understanding the very pertinent reason she decided to fib in the first place.

Frankly that sounds like a lot, but as Kate Cuthbert points out, “He goes down. In public. We have written proof.”

Compelling.

So, Who Wins?

“I’m definitely Team Charles,” says Kate Cuthbert. “I think controlled sexual tension is just about the strongest aphrodisiac there is, and it’s so hard to write well. Peter Hermann does a wonderful job of portraying leashed desire, and paired with the character’s genuine respect for women, when that formidable control slips a little, the results are sure to be volcanic for Liza — and every other woman watching. ”

Dr Jodi McAlister agrees. “I started off #teamjosh, because Liza didn’t need another emotionally exhausting man in her life,” she says. “He was a perfect Mr Right Now. But I’m #teamcharles now, because they can be a real partnership.”

Fine, Charles wins. Honestly, this is heterosexual nonsense, but I guess it makes perfect sense.

Younger is currently streaming on Stan, with new episodes of Season 5 dropping weekly.

Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.