This post has been a long time coming, and while I do not have the time to give the topic justice, I’m inspired at the moment and want to rant for a bit. That’s what blogs are for, right?
Beauty and the Beast (1987)
I LOVED Beauty and the Beast – the television show – when I was younger. In many ways, I find it the perfect romance. Well, they are re-making it, or rather, it has already been re-made. It premieres this fall. I would love to say that I am excited about this. I feel like the story from the 80s was not concluded properly and I would love to see it finished right. However, my first impression of the trailer was, Lana Lang, really? Isn’t she too young? And the “beast” isn’t much of a beast.
There are two issues going on here. The first is whether or not they will successfully make a good television show. The fact that the “beast” is a hottie that could be on the cover of GQ or in a Calvin Klein ad is a huge problem for me. The scar, if anything, makes him sexier. I realize that he will be transforming into a “beast” in much the same way Bruce/David Banner turned into the Hulk. I still don’t like it. It isn’t the Beast from my Beauty and the Beast. Vincent looked like a lion and I know that when I really think about it, I am surprised they could get away with it in the 80s because with too much thought, well…it skirts the issue of beastiality, which, of course, completely detracts from the love story. Nevertheless, for some reason it worked. I attribute this to George R. R. Martin’s awesome writing skills and Ron Perlman’s awesome acting skills…and the fact that apart from regular hugs, we never actually saw Catherine and Vincent be intimate.
There is always the possibility, however, that it will be a good show. Only time will tell. I won’t be holding my breath though.
Back to my point: the second issue. Age.
Kristen Kruek just seems too young to be playing that role. It seems like a lot of television shows lately are utilizing really young actors. Shows with characters in high school aside, we have Hart of Dixie (a really young doctor), Fringe (a really young FBI agent), Castle (a really young cop) and Revenge (a woman who is way too young to be that proficient at what she does). Add to that all the shows about teenagers: The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, Gossip Girl, 90210, Suburgatory, and Teen Wolf.
These lists are far from complete (obviously) and while I watch many of the shows I listed, I still feel like there is a privilege given to really young actors, even when the roles they are portraying calls for older actors. This have been bugging me lately. I realize that I am no longer in my 20s, but I notice when there is an actress I can relate to age-wise. I still like the Vampire Diaries and Revenge, but for different reasons.
Recently I decided to go back and re-watch the original Star Trek series. It has been a long time since I have seen this show and the summer is upon us, which means there will be a dearth of things to watch. I was trivia-reading and I happened to come across the fact that George Takei was the youngest cast member. He was 29 years old.* Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were 35 when the show first aired in 1966. That was what prompted me write this post. Twenty-nine is still relative young, but for being the youngest, this seemed to stand in stark contrast to what I see on television today.
Well, I did a little highly-unscientific empirical data gathering and what I found really surprised me.
First, the television shows that I first mentioned.
Rachel Bilsson was 30 last year when Hart of Dixie first aired. This is actually an appropriate age for what her character is going through.
Anna Torv (Olivia Dunham) was 30 when Fringe first aired. This is still a little young, but I would have thought she was in her 20s.
Stana Katic was 31 when Castle first aired. Again, I could have sworn Stana Katic was younger than that, but in this case, she still seems too young to be a head detective.
Emily Van Camp was only 25 when Revenge aired last year, so I was right about this one. Maybe people disagree with me. I guess single-mindedness goes for a lot, but she still seems awfully young.
This calls for investigation!
The ages of these first three women surprised me a little, so I started thinking about older shows with actresses who seemed older.
Claudia Black in Farscape. Well, turns out she was only 27 when that show first aired. Ben Browder, on the other hand, was 37 at the time.
Dirk Benedict was 38 when the A-Team first aired. Not to mention George Peppard, who was 55. Although, there are shows with older actors today too. Lost had quite a variety of ages, Elementary (a new show this fall that I am really looking forward to) has Lucy Liu, 44, and Johnny Lee Miller, 40, The Following (another new fall show) stars Kevin Bacon,54, and Kiefer Sutherland, today 46, was 35 when 24 first aired. (These actors aren’t so old, but they’re not 30.)
How about Stargate SG-1. Richard Dean Anderson was 47 when that first aired. Amanda Tapping was 32…I would have thought she was younger. Hmm…that made her 43 when Sanctuary started.
Okay, well, then surely Stephanie Zimbalist was in her 30s too when Remington Steele aired, right? Nope. She was only 26 and Pierce Brosnan was only 29. Granted, that show was a long time ago too, so my memory is a little faint, but they seemed older at the time.
Back to Beauty and the Beast
Still, Kristen Kreuk is too young to play Catherine Chandler, right? Well, Linda Hamilton was 31 when Beauty and the Beast aired in 1987. This year, Kristen Kreuk is 30.
So, what the heck?
So, what’s the deal then? Am I just getting older and anyone who is younger than me just seems young? Or…and I’d like to think that at least some of it has to do with this…Are characters being portrayed younger than their supposed age? Is it just that Hollywood is leaning towards younger-looking actresses? Because, for reals doe, Kristen Kreuk hasn’t aged a day since Smallville. She could still play a teenager, or at least a young 20-something.
I am really surprised by the results of my unscientific-study. I stared this post intending to rant about how actors just keep getting younger and younger. It seems this isn’t true, though. There has always been shows with teenagers and there have always been shows with older (mostly men) characters. It does seem, however, that 30 is the prime age for actresses. Many of the shows I like and have liked over the years employ early 30-something actors. This is probably because the networks have found that these shows appeal to a wide audience. The characters aren’t so young as to not be interesting to us middle-aged folk, but they’re also not too old that teenagers and 20-somethings find them unrelatable.
I almost forgot!
A couple of months ago I discovered In Plain Sight. I remember noticing that there were no young actors in this show. Frederick Weller, who plays Marshall (“Marshall Marshall”) was 42 when the show started and Mary McCormack was 39 when the show started. However, Nicole Hiltz, who plays her younger sister, was 30 when the show started, but lets not forget Leslie Ann Warren, who was 62 when the show stared and still looks amazing.
As I get older I notice things like this. Fifteen, twenty years ago, I never would have noticed that Mary McCormack was a bit unique in terms of her age and the type of character she portrays. Starbuck, aka Dirk Benedict, 30 years my senior seemed just as old as Bo Duke, aka John Schneider, who is only 15 years my senior. They’re both still hot, but my perspective on their age is much different than it was when I was watching Batttlestar Galactica and the Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. It also never bothered me that there are characters on television that I cannot relate too. Saved by the Bell was just as entertaining and relatable as MacGuyver. And as a teen, I always knew who the actors were in the trash mags. Why is it that on a good day I only recognize about half of them now?
Well, this post got away from me awhile ago, so I can’t rightly remember what I started off to say. So, no conclusion, but I would like to hear my readers’ impressions and thoughts. Am I alone here? Or do others find themselves in the same predicament?
*All ages are figured from birth years listed on IMDB.com.