Opinion: Adults shouldn’t portray teen characters


Photo via The CW Network

Cole Sprouse portrays Jughead Jones, a character in the TV series Riverdale, despite not being a teen.

Eliza Swanson, Club Member

Riverdale, one of the most popular teen dramas on the CW and Netflix, revolves around a group of high school students solving the town’s mysteries. The series grew in popularity due to its inclusion of well known actors, such as Cole Sprouse, who portrays one of the main characters, Jughead Jones. 

In the series and the comic book Archie, Jughead is 17 years old, while Cole Sprouse is 28 years old — which leaves over a decade gap between the two. 

Audiences may think this casting is a rare occurrence, but adult actors commonly portray teenagers. It may seem logical to hire more adult actors due to legal reasons and more flexibility within their schedules. However, this casting practice allows for the romanticization of inappropriate relationships and abuse. It also contributes to a distorted view on life for some teens.

However, this casting practice allows for the romanticization of inappropriate relationships and abuse.”

For example, in the 2019 adaptation of Little Women, Florence Pugh and her character, Amy March, have an age gap of over a decade as well. In Louisa May Alcott’s version, Amy is 12 years old and the youngest March sister. However, Pugh was 22 years old during filming and the premiere. 

Although Pugh captured Amy’s childish and arrogant nature fairly well, an adult’s handling of emotions is nowhere near a child’s. If a child actor, such as McKenna Grace, portrayed Amy, viewers may have grasped and understood Amy’s childish antics and her dependent nature in a different light. 

Furthermore, unrealistic beauty standards for teens emerge. A 28-year-old’s body is fully developed, while a 15-year-old’s body has hardly reached puberty. This can cause psychological issues for teens who watch these series and can worsen their self-image. 

These adult actors also allow for wildly inappropriate relationships to be displayed. 

For example, in the teen series Euphoria, Jules, a new student attending East Highland High School, engages in a sexual relationship with Cal Jacobs, who is the father of the school’s star quarterback, Nate Jacobs. Although the majority of viewers found it disturbing, a select few found the issues she faced and the overall relationship as mature and romantic. 

Overall, the casting of adult actors can lead to the romanticization of serious issues, and production companies need to let teens be teens.