Confession: My first real fake crush was on this guy called ‘The Fonz.’ He was this super cool character on ‘Happy Days,’ a TV show that ran from 1974 to 1984. That slicked back hair and brown leather jacket? Irresistible. I still remember penning a fan letter to him as part of a fifth grade writing assignment. I went on about how cute I though he was and how much I loved his signature phrase, ‘Sit on it’ (which, in retrospect, has to be one of the lamest in existence.) Yep, the Fonz was dreamy. Unfortunately, the same year I wrote the letter I found out the actor who played him, Henry Winkler, was 33 years old.
33 YEARS OLD! Holy moly! He was almost as old as my father!
Years later, a similar incident happened when the first real ‘teen’ drama, ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’ came out in 1990. Personally, I had a thing for Jason Priestley, who played Brandon on the show. A lot of girls, however, loved bad boy Dylan, played by Luke Perry. I must admit he was a hottie. As the years went on, though, Luke started to look...well, different. Was he losing his hair? Hmmm. That seemed kind of strange for a teenager. Well, imagine our collective surprise when we found out he had started the show at age 25. Gasp!
Yep, adults playing teenagers is not a recent development. However, the amount of shows featuring ‘teen’ casts is. So wouldn’t it be fun to see just how many young characters are actually played by old farts? Okay, then, let’s do it! Allow me to present:
Teen TV’s 'ACT YOU AGE' Contest
Here how it’ll work: I’ll take the two oldest ‘young’ actors - one ‘boy’ and one ‘girl’ - from a selection of the hottest teen TV shows on air and rank them by age until we discover the oldest cast member for each sex. This week I'll do the girls. Next week, the guys. Are you ready? Okay.
They youngest female actress is...
Ashley Argota, Lulu on ‘True Jackson VP.’ Born on January 9, 1993, she is 17 years-old. The lead, Keke Palmer, is actually 8 months younger. Cool. Nice and teen-agey.
Next up is Selena Gomez, Alex on ‘Wizards of Waverly Place.’ She was born on July 22, 1992, making her 18. Another teen. Awesome.
Just a little older than Selena is Jenette McCurdy, better known as Sam on 'iCarly.' Her birthday is June 26, 1992, also making her 18. Plus Miranda Cosgrove is only 17! Teens playing teens is so nice. Let's see if this trend continues...
Yippee! Coming in just a few months older is Emily Osmet, Lilly on 'Hannah Montana.' Born on March 10, 1992, we have yet another 18 year-old. Miley Cyrus isn't too far behind - her birthday's November 23rd. Also a teen! You know, I’ve got to stop and say ‘kudos’ to Disney and Nickelodeon. Looks like they’re keepin’ it real. Great job!
Okay, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Candice Accola who plays Caroline on ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ entered this world on May 19, 1987. That makes her 23, definitely a full-fledged adult.
It's all down hill from here, folks.
Jessica Stroup, Erin on ‘90210,’ was born on October 23, 1986. She’s 23,but only for a couple more weeks. Enjoy your 'youth' while it lasts, Jessica!
Next up is Megan Park, who plays Grace on ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’ Birthday? July 24, 1986. Age? 24. Any other 24 year-olds out there?
Yes! There's Leighton Meester, known as Blair on ‘Gossip Girl.’ Her birthday: April 9, 1986, making her also 24. I have to admit, given the content of the show, I’m really glad she’s not a teen.
Here's another 24 year-old! Hi, Amber Riley, a.k.a. Mercedes from ‘Glee.’ She was born on February 15, 1986. Oh my word. The girls -- I mean women -- who play Tina, Quinn and Rachel are a little younger but also 24! Class of 2012? How about class of 2004! Okay, please tell me there are no more 24 year-olds...
Dang! Another one and...say what? It's Tiffany Thornton, or Tawni on ‘Sonny with a Chance?’ But we already did the Nick/Disney gang! Huh. Her birthday is February 12, 1986. Oh, well. At least Demi Lovato was born in 1992. Still, I'm ready to be done with 24 year-olds. You?
Here we go. Dana Davis, or Chastity on ’10 Things I Hate About You,’ has stopped the madness with a birthday of October 4, 1984. Still, at 26 years-old, that’s madness in and of itself. Plus, were not done! There are still a couple more, like…
Chelsea Hobbs, Emily on ‘Make It or Break It.’ Born on February 18, 1984, she's also 26. Think they give her a senior discount at the lunch line? Still, she's not the worst. The oldest 'young' star is...
Tammin Sursok, Jenna from ‘Pretty Little Liars.' With a birthdate of August 19, 1983, she's the granny at 27. Go figure, a show about lying is right on top! There's something else curious, too...Doesn't Tammin have a recurring role on 'Hannah Montana' as Jackson's girlfriend, too? What's up with that? Interesting...
So there you have it. What did you think? Any surprises? Next week we’ll do the guys and, I promise you, that one will be even more interesting. How do I know? I already did the research! Trust me, you'll want to come back.
Until then, ciao, and do your best to keep it real...unlike Hollywood. ;)