There are three good faith reasons:
1. Labor Laws – Television productions schedules are grueling. Shows need to produce X amount of episodes in Y amount of time. If there’s a workflow jam elsewhere, then production will have to work long—sometimes dangerous—hours to finish on time. In 2017, KJ Apa, the star of Riverdale, infamously fell asleep at the wheel and crashed because he’d been working 16-hour days on set. Children are protected from these extreme practices and can legally only spend six-to-eight hours on set, including hair and make-up. By casting an adult, shows avoid all the hassle.
2. Acting Experience – Have you ever been in an acting class when a former child actor realizes that they’re not talented, they were merely a cute kid? It’s as awkward as it sounds. While there are truly talented adolescent actors out there, those actors then have to continually practice and sharpen their craft, manage private school, and have the maturity to present themselves as young professionals—all while still being a teenager! Shows like Stranger Things and Game of Thrones either had massive resources or a hell of a casting director.
3. Life Happens – Hey, remember when Harry Potter had long hair for, like, one movie? That’s because Daniel Radcliffe had grown half a foot from beginning to end of production and his face shape changed; his hair was used to cover up inconsistencies for filming. The average CW show doesn’t have the money or patience to deal with adolescents’ changing looks and bodies. Young-looking people in their mid-20’s make for a more stable choice, especially if a show plans to last for half a dozen seasons.
Here’s the problematic reason:
4. Sex Appeal – The old adage that “sex sells” isn’t near as true as it was 20 years ago (thanks DeviantArt). Sexual dynamics in a relationship, however, are prime fodder for primetime programming. Shows have to meet that episode quota somehow. Having half-naked young adults dramatically engage in sexually charged plot lines while pretending to be teens in a show that markets to teens, however, can be damaging. An impressionable young viewer may think this is how people their age are supposed to look or act, which leads to mental health issues when that viewer can’t fit the mold.
Thankfully, there are recent positive examples of TV meeting realism halfway. Streaming services have pushed television to default to fewer episodes and fewer seasons, meaning threadbare story arcs are decreasing. Shows like Cobra Kai and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cast actual teenagers or adults freshly in their 20’s. Then again, Dear Evan Hansen only came out last year (and is not, somehow, a mid-90’s legal thriller like the poster on the left implies).
Were it not for Tom Cruise, Bob’s Burgers would’ve been my pick last week, but the Belcher family’s used to being passed over. That doesn’t stop them from being consistently quirky and charming. If you’re looking for a creative meal of a movie, this one’s got your order comin’ up.
Only in Theaters
Did you like Silk Spectre’s acidic zingers in 2019’s Watchmen? Did you want a show where she slings them for half an hour? Those were rhetorical questions—OF COURSE YOU WANT THAT! Honestly, I could fill an entire newsletter with clever lines from this show.
Steam on HBO Max
This show gets a conditional recommendation: I have heard high praise from a portion of anime fans while another portion doesn’t get it. Then again, this show’s about ballet, so it’s not for everyone anyways. If you’re looking for high art and unique expression, this show meets the bar.
Stream on Crunchyroll