Why Are We Still Hiring Adults to Play High Schoolers?

Friday, February 05

By Sydney Jackson


In my many years of watching Disney Channel Original Movies, teen dramas, and other forms of media that were designed with teenagers (mainly high school kids) in mind, it was never made apparent to me how all of these things had one thing in common. At least, until other people started pointing it out. 

My naïve, childish brain could not even fathom the various shady things that went on in Hollywood and when it came to the live-action content that I enjoyed, I was none the wiser. It wasn’t until I was about seventeen going on eighteen when I had seen the advert for the now mainstream show, Euphoria, that my suspicions were confirmed. 

If you don’t know what Euphoria is, it’s a teen drama on HBO that follows multiple high school kids and what their lives are like living in a small town. Only thing is, the main protagonist, Rue, is a recovering addict and she’s not the only one struggling with issues. There are kids going through sexual abuse, domestic abuse, rape, grooming, etc. But if there is one thing that I would like to hone in on is that the show is about “kids”. Yet, the majority of the main characters are played by an adult, and some of them are over 21. 

Euphoria is an extreme example of this, but it happens all of the time in movies and tv shows. It makes you wonder, “why are we hiring grown adults to play teenagers?” or better yet, “why can’t we just have these stories be set in college?”. Some people might say that Euphoria is a special case because it is supposed to be raw and show what it’s like for most teenagers these days. It still does not sit right with me seeing these “teenagers” doing things like heavy drugs, having rough sex, and knowing that the actors are adults. In a way, it’s creepy. Why they could not have just been in college is beyond me. 

There are multiple examples of grown-ups playing kids and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these actors can’t play their roles right or make it obvious that they are older than their character. But it’s just trippy for me whenever I look more into a character who is supposed to be fifteen in a movie, and the actor playing them is twenty-five. This may just be a normal thing in show-business, and maybe I just have no idea what I am talking about, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that this whole thing is a little weird. 

It’s interesting to imagine all of the kids who actually do want to be actors but because they are too young or too inexperienced for these bigger roles, they have to watch someone five to ten years older play a role that would suit them better. I could go in about why there aren’t more shows about people in college nowadays, but I think that’s for another time. 

I would like to end this long rant by leaving a small note to Hollywood: please stop trying to hypersexualize teenagers and specifically minors. No matter how relatable or entertaining you think it might be, it’s not realistic. I feel that we should have a more open dialogue about this issue because it says a lot about our society if we don’t. 

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