20-Year-Olds Playing 15-Year-Olds

I watched the pilot episode of Dawson’s Creek with my friend today.  I was never into Dawson’s Creek back in the 90’s into the 00’s, but my older sister was. The first thing that got me was that the fifteen-year-old kids were played by twenty-year-olds who looked twenty. That, and well, they’re obsessed with sex.

I’m not out to bash Dawson’s Creek at all because I actually really like the show. I have a weird crush on Joshua Jackson that no one understands because most other women that I’ve spoken to don’t find him attractive. He falls in the same dreamy boat that JoGorLev (Joseph Gordon Levitt) does. They’re normal looking guys but they’re so–yes.

Anyway, I remember being thirteen, fourteen, fifteen thinking I needed a boyfriend and I needed to look a certain way because most thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year olds had a boyfriend and looked a certain way. Looking back on it, I wonder where the hell I even got that idea. The answer is obviously TV. In reality, when I was fifteen, I didn’t have the slighest degree of maturity to be able to approach a serious relationship, at least in the way the Dawson Creek kids are going about it. The Dawson Creek kids go about it like they’re in their twenties, as the actors are.

As crazy as the idea might sound, the aforementioned got me thinking about the age of actors compared to their characters and how that affects the level of a performance. Call me naive, but I can’t imagine a real sophomore in high-school believably acting like such a precocious sex crazed maniac the way the lovely Josh Jackson does. Firstly, most high-school sophomores still very much–no extremely–so, look like kids. A lot of the boys haven’t even gone through puberty. (They catch up to the girls by senior year.) Secondly, I can’t fathom that a fourteen or fifteen year old young woman would even be comfortable enough to portray a character like Katie Holmes’ without feeling just a little bit awkward and having that shine through in their performance.

I used to think that they cast 25-year-olds to play 15-year-olds so they wouldn’t be affected by labor laws. It was said that shooting got to be extremly difficult and tight on Saved by the Bell (where actual teens played teens) because of the million breaks and tutoring sessions they had to take part in. After contemplating a bit, maybe they hire older people to keep conveying that young teens really are extremely and blatantly sexual. Maybe they do it to create a fantasy image of the “normal” teenager. I’m not sure. I think I would, definitely still let a future teenager of mine watch Dawson’s Creek, because I would like to think that I’ll be an involved and active parent and just let them know, “Hey Sally, that’s just a silly melodramatic TV show.”  However, parents who don’t talk to their kids ever, shouldn’t be surprised if their fourteen-year-old is thinking of having sex with her boyfriend because of twenty-somethings playing ninth graders on their favorite show.

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One Response to “20-Year-Olds Playing 15-Year-Olds”

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