Big Little Liza Season 5 Episode 5

Editor's Rating 3 stars

Dust off your best Chandler Bing impression because I have a question: Could Liza be juggling any more story lines this week? It’s a bit of a reprieve to step away from Angry Charles for a hot minute, but Liza can’t even enjoy it, she has so much going on.

There is, of course, Caitlin and that breadfacing thing, which is hilarious until it’s sad because you realize IT IS A REAL THING THAT PEOPLE DO. Still, the whole silly story line is worth it to watch Sutton Foster put her comedic talents on full display (seriously, she should win an Emmy solely for her facial expressions while composing the text “Caitlin, it’s mom. Where are you? Who are you?”). Once Liza — who discovered her daughter’s online videos thanks to Rose’s parents — finally wrangles her daughter for a dinner, the breadfacing experiment is over pretty quickly. Caitlin was doing it to make some money, but after a reality check and a quick lesson in embarrassment — Liza starts rubbing her own face on the complimentary bread on the table — Caitlin promises to give up the gig. I’ve never felt so seen as I did when even after rubbing her face all over bread, Liza declares she’s still eating it because hey, it’s bread. It is bread, Liza. One of our most precious gifts.

On a more serious note, Liza is also dealing with some Josh drama. His landlord is on his case about Inkburg: He either needs to sign a ten-year lease, or vacate his beloved tattoo parlor. He has 24 hours to decide. The thought of such a huge commitment throws Josh and he ends up getting drunk and calling Liza to inform her that he’s giving it up. Actually, he says things like “come say good-bye” and “I’m done with this place,” which is all very dramatic but feels on-brand for season-five Josh. So pretty, so forlorn. Once Liza makes her way from Lauren’s edible makeup party (where the delightfully deadpan Tam, Lauren’s intern, has Lauren teaching everyone about being genderqueer and not assuming people’s pronouns, and questioning if millennials are old and lame now), she comes to find Sad Josh sitting in the dark in Inkburg. There’s nothing holding him here, so why should he commit to ten more years? Liza attempts to remind him that Inkburg is more than his dream, it’s his soul. But Josh has been burned too many times, staying is the biggest risk. When Liza tells him that he has people here, Maggie and Kelsey and yes, even her, Sad Josh reminds her, “No, I don’t have you.”

Oh brother.

Sad Josh is still so very much in love with Liza, but it seems like she’s really moved on. I’m unsure where Josh’s story line is headed this season, but I’m worried. Worried that Liza will give in to those puppy-dog eyes and we’ll end up in the well-trod Liza-Josh territory. Worried that she won’t and Josh will continue his slow march to becoming the Saddest Man in Brooklyn, which isn’t fun either. Someone save this guy! It most definitely doesn’t help that when Liza walks by Inkburg after her drunken chat with Josh and sees the shop’s sign coming down, she goes running into his apartment to tell him that she’ll always be in his life in some capacity, that she commits to him. Which, like, maybe Josh needs the opposite of that at this point. Regardless, he appreciates the impassioned speech but there is no need to worry: He signed the lease, he’s just getting a bigger sign. Relieved, she embraces him and he lets her know that he’s “not giving up yet.” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Is Josh going to make a big play for Liza soon? Do we even care?

We need to table the Josh of it all to talk about the most imminent problem Liza faces in this episode, which is neither of the two things just discussed, if you can believe it. No, her problem comes in the form of Mr. Don Ridley. While out on a date, Liza slips on some ice and her bag goes flying. Don, being a gentleman, helps her clean up and in doing so, finds both of her licenses. She has no choice but to tell him everything (actually, as Kelsey points out later, she could’ve lied and said it was to get old-people discounts). Once Don starts blowing Liza off because he’s “writing,” you can guess what’s happening. Don is a struggling freelance writer and a great story just fell into his lap. When Liza gets a call from the Vanity Fair fact-checker looking to confirm her age for a story being written by Don, it comes as a surprise to Liza, but not to us.

Both Liza and Kelsey, who also gets a call, are able to keep the fact-checker at bay but the whole thing becomes a much bigger problem. When they turn up for a meeting with Kiara at Reese Witherspoon’s company, they discover Vanity Fair has reached out to them as well. Apparently, the news of Liza being 41 is so shocking that “Reese is in pieces.” Kiara wants to know what is going on and how old is Liza, really? To get out of the corner she is completely backed into, Liza invents something called “age-queer.” In response to people constantly discounting women because of their age, she doesn’t identify as any age. Kelsey goes along with it because screw the patriarchy, that’s why! Kiara, somehow, buys it.

The situation at Hello Sunshine is diffused, but Liza needs to deal with Don. Surprise, surprise, she finds him stealing food at another benefit. He’s not even apologetic. He needed a great story and Liza is a great story. Liza is about to ream him out, but it doesn’t matter anyway — Don informs her that Vanity Fair dropped the story after “some social media thing about being age-queer” took over the internet. Age shaming is suddenly a thing. As insane as this story line is — I mean, how long did it take for Liza to get to that Broadway Cares benefit? — it at least gives Liza the chance to call Don an asshole and then walk out like the boss lady she is. Bye, Don!

Liza took on the bulk of the episode, but don’t think that means Kelsey didn’t have time to make some bad decisions. She and Zane are annoyed with Jake because he still hasn’t turned in the first chapter of his book. Kelsey is not annoyed enough, however, to turn down an invite to attend an Arianna Huffington party with her new writer. Zane is suspicious of Jake’s motives, and as cool as Zane typically plays it, his jealousy is showing under yet another impeccably tailored suit.

As it should be. Kelsey goes to the party in a fabulous dress and she and Jake spend some alone time taking in the NYC skyline, flirting, and ultimately, smashing faces. Oh, Kelsey. This is the third writer she’s hooked up with! Neither Anton nor Colin really worked out in her favor. Girl, I know you like Jake but you need to learn your lesson. First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on me. Third time? It’s just a freakin’ shame.

• Even when there’s little-to-no Trout in an episode, she can swoop in and dish out one excellent line that steals the show. In this episode, it’s her response to Jake informing her that he only has a plus-one to the Arianna Huffington party and it’s not going to Diana: “That’s fine. I don’t have the energy for that accent tonight.”

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