e122. twentysomethingteen

There are a lot of television shows and movies about teenagers, both comedies and dramas.There always have been. And yet, actual teenagers on television are extremely rare. Teens are typically played by twenty-something actors (or older). This is especially the case when it comes to teenagers in shows with a heavy sexual or romantic components like Riverdale, the best show on television! Sometimes, the actors who portray these youth are quite convincing. Other times, they look as old as their parents. On this week’s episode, Wayne and Mav are joined by literary and cinema scholar Carolyn Salvi as well as twentysomething actors Jessica Michael Davis and Collin Kelly-Sordelet, both of whom have experience playing characters still in their teens to talk about the reasons that studios cast characters this way as well as the ramifications on the experience of the viewer and what happens when you contrast the typical “Hollywood” view of adolescence with a show like Stranger Things that casts actors who are actually the same age as the characters they are playing. Join us and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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3 Comments and 9 Webmentions for “e122. twentysomethingteen”

  1. I always really liked that Sarah Michelle Gellar was cast as Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the actual age of the character. Somehow, I find it lovely and reassuring to see her grow and change, looking awesome at all ages.

    1. We didn’t talk about it, but that is definitely one benefit to casting age appropriate actors. If you can maintain a realtime broadcasting schedule for an extended period of time, it can definitely be nice to see the characters naturally mature. I think this works well in family sitcoms quite often.

    2. It also prevented a lot of the weirdness of teens-played-by-adults with-adult-sexual-freedom-and-independence, in my opinion… the actors were old enough to have their own opinions on how their characters would feel about sex, anything sexual was filmed very tastefully, not exploitatively, and the plots reflected the reality of being new to dating, love, sex, romance, trust in relationships, and so on. It was squarely in the teens’ POV, not the adults’ — and the viewer felt the pain of Buffy being the first among her friends to have sex, wondering if it was her fault that her boyfriend was an asshole to her now, and being reluctant to tell her mom or her mentor, for embarrassment and fear of how they would react.

      I find that in programs like “The Vampire Diaries,” the casting of older, highly attractive actors coupled with unrealistic sexual relationships (like, no one has to worry about rules, curfews, or parents; everyone knows how to have awesome sex, wants it, knows who they want it with, and feels great about it), I can’t connect with it at ALL. Nothing about the characters resembles a teen or even a college student, to me; they’re all essentially young professionals, except somehow supposedly going to high school???

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