Younger’s Reese Witherspoon name-drop proves her literary power

Reese Witherspoon’s book club has its finger on the pulse of the bestsellers list, and Younger’s latest name-check knows it.

Taking place in the world of book publishing places Younger at an interesting advantage. It’s a hyper-specific workplace in which to center its drama, but it’s one most everyone can claim a casual interest in. We all (arguably) read books and track their popularity from the bestsellers list to the big screen. But no one has staked a more impressive claim to this entertainment trajectory than Academy Award-winning actress, producer, and all-around tastemaker Reese Witherspoon.

In the latest episode of Younger, Liza (Sutton Foster) and Kelsey (Hilary Duff) celebrate the release of Millennial’s hot new release novel Marriage Vacation, which is a real book you can read on the beach this summer. Before the novel can even make an impact on shelves, Liza and Kelsey learn that Reese Witherspoon has added Pauline’s debut novel to her book club, a major get in real life and on television. As Witherspoon continues to turn books into major properties, Younger recognizes just how powerful she has become in the literary landscape.

There are very few celebrities who can influence the entertainment tide in more ways than one. Sure, some social media influencers can add a picture of a book cover to their Instagram and boost its sales. Blake Lively can be photographed carrying a novel around town and inspire fans to start turning pages within minutes. But Reese Witherspoon has seemingly redefined the celebrity book club, an Instagram phenomenon with over 500K followers and a media reach that far exceeds a mere mention of a bestselling title.

Over the last few years, Witherspoon has taken books such as Wild and Gone Girl to the big screen, each earning Academy Award nominations. She has purchased the rights to books before they can even land in the hands of voracious readers like herself and turned them into pop culture phenomenons like Big Little Lies. When Reese Witherspoon puts her stamp of approval on a book, you know that there’s a juicy, complex story sure to unfold, one that could ultimately find its way at a theater or streaming service near you starring a formidable female lead.

Wisely, Younger noted this trend toward successful celebrity book clubs and the lengthier life the art of endorsement provides for literary works. The series has always incorporated names and situations that anchored Empirical Press with professional realism. Whether it’s alluding to Lena Dunham or partnering with Entertainment Weekly, for five seasons of hilarious accuracy, Younger has embraced the breadth of publishing in the modern age.

But its reference to Reese Witherspoon (the smoothest product placement ever injected onscreen), confirms the authority she has over creative expression and her commitment to ensuring stories find their rightful spotlight. There’s no doubt that Marriage Vacation would be the kind of challenging, uncompromising novel she’d scoop up in a heartbeat. Liza knows as much and cashes in on the opportunity to slide into Reese’s DMs.

Before long, Liza has secured a first-look deal between Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine and Millennial Print. That’s something a publishing house could only dream of, but something that’s also entirely possible of becoming (or already being) a reality. As Witherspoon’s picks rollover into bankable commodities with unprecedented rapidity, this kind of competitive edge to bear Reese’s name on book covers far and wide will define this bold page-to-screen era.

Beyond inspiring countless viewers to hop onto Amazon and grab Reese’s latest book club titles, Younger opened up a portal to an epic could-be crossover. Would it be too greedy to wish for Reese Witherspoon to make a guest appearance on Younger? Of course it is, but it’s not too far-fetched to imagine her launching Marriage Vacation into a book club and box office sensation. Outside the realm of Younger, she’s busy putting in the work: Reading books, writing books, and running an empire of entertainment the world needs now more than ever.

Younger airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TV Land.

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