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Acting your age: Revealing the age gaps in Netflix’s most popular teen movies and shows

Amber Baker from NovosAmber Baker in Digital PR

9th November, 2022

Acting your age: Revealing the age gaps in Netflix’s most popular teen movies and shows

Celebrity age gaps are always in the news. Whether it’s creators on TikTok joking about certain celebs not dating anyone over the age of 25 or tabloids discussing the latest scandal between a young actress and her older co-star, we’re obsessed with age. And these age gaps can sometimes cause issues for younger consumers. 

Other age gaps are between an actor and the character they are portraying. Some are essential due to labour laws or child protection acts (you couldn’t have someone underage portraying a school-aged character in Sex Education, for example), but others are a little excessive, with years and years between the two. These big age gaps can make young people vulnerable to self-esteem issues – having an almost 30-year-old portray an 18-year-old can give the wrong impression of how bodies should look. 

We wanted to flex our data scraping capabilities and look into the most popular teen Netflix Original movies and series to find out the biggest age gap between actors and the characters they portray. Here are the results. 

What we did

To begin our study, we scraped every British and American teen Netflix Original movie and TV show ever released from Netflix Fandom.

Next, we used IMDb to source the date of birth of each actor and cross-referenced it with the release date of each movie and TV show to find out the age of each actor at the time of their show’s release.

Finally, we manually researched the age of every character considered in our study and unveiled the age gaps. If the age of the characters wasn’t available, we estimated their age based on their year at school (e.g., College freshman (18), Highschool senior (17), Highschool junior (16), etc.)

Note: To avoid disparities between the number of main characters across movies and TV shows, we only considered two main characters from each. Often, this equated to the male and female lead.

Top 10 Netflix Original teen movies with the biggest actor/character age gap

# Movie Actor Character Actor’s Age When Film was Released Character Age Age Difference
1 Love and Monsters Dylan O’Brien Joel Dawson 29 17 12
2 Do Revenge Camila Mendes Drea Torres 28 17 11
3 Love and Monsters Jessica Henwick Aimee 28 17 11
4 Moxie Hadley Robinson Vivian 26 16 10
5 Along for the Ride Emma Pasarow Auden 26 18 8
6 The Last Summer Maia Mitchell Phoebe Fisher 25 17 8
7 A Week Away Kevin Quinn Will 23 16 7
8 All the Bright Places Justice Smith Theodore Finch 24 17 7
9 Do Revenge Maya Hawke Eleanor Levetan 24 17 7
10 There’s Someone Inside Your House Théodore Pellerin Ollie Larsson 24 17 7

 

Out of all the Netflix Original movies we looked into, Dylan O’Brien has the largest age gap between his own age and the character he portrays. In the 2020 movie, Love and Monsters, baby-faced Dylan plays 17-year-old Joel Dawson, a desperate teen in search of his girlfriend following their forced separation. The film takes place in a dystopian Earth left at the whims of mutated creatures following the destruction of an asteroid headed for Earth. At the time of the movie’s release, O’Brien was 29 years old, 12 years his character’s senior.

O’Brien’s co-star and love interest in Love and Monsters, Jessica Henwick, ranks joint second on our list. 28-year-old Jessica portrays 17-year-old Aimee, Joel’s lost girlfriend in Love and Monsters, with an 11-year age gap.

With the same difference in age, we find Camilla Mendes, who plays Drea Torres in the 2022 black comedy film, Do Revenge. At the time of this film’s release, Mendes was 28 years old, 11 years older than her character. 

Top 10 Netflix Original teen TV shows with the biggest actor/character age gap

# TV Show Actor Character Actor’s Age When Film was Released Character Age Age Difference
1 Never Have I Ever Darren Barnet Paxton Hall-Yoshida 29 16 13
2 First Kill Sarah Catherine Hook Juliette Fairmont 27 16 11
3 Outer Banks Chase Stokes John B 27 16 11
4 Trinkets Kiana Madeira Moe Truax 26 16 10
5 Dash & Lily Midori Francis Lily 26 17 9
6 Teenage Bounty Hunters Maddie Phillips Sterling Wesley 25 16 9
7 Teenage Bounty Hunters Anjelica Bette Fellini Blair Wesley 25 16 9
8 The Order Jake Manley Jack Morton 27 18 9
9 The Politician Ben Platt Payton Hobart 26 17 9
10 The Politician David Corenswet River Barkley 26 17 9

 

Next, we looked at Netflix Original series and TV shows, with Never Have I ever coming out as the show with the largest age gap. 

In this 2020 coming-of-age series about teen life, attending high school, and finding love, Darren Barnet plays 16-year-old high school student, Paxton Hall-Yoshida – the love interest of the main character Devi. At the time of the show’s release, Darren was 29 years old – 16 years his character’s senior.

Second, on the list, we have the teen vampire drama, First Kill. Sarah Catherine Hook plays Juliette Fairmont, a teenage vampire who, having just turned 16, struggles with adulthood and love while falling in love with the daughter of a monster-hunting family. At the time of the show’s release in 2022, Hook was 27, giving her and her character an 11-year age difference. 

Which leading romances have the biggest age gap between the actors?

# Film/TV Show Love Interest 1 Actor Age Love Interest 2 Actor Age Age Difference
1 Never Have I Ever Paxton (Darren Barnet) 29 Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) 18 9
2 Work It Jake (Jordan Fisher) 26 Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) 21 5
3 Insatiable Brick (Michael Provost) 20 Patty (Debby Ryan) 25 5
4 Outer Banks John B (Chase Stokes) 27 Sarah (Madelyn Cline) 22 5
5 The Last Summer Griffin (K.J. Apa) 21 Phoebe (Maia Mitchell) 25 4
6 Boo, Bitch Jake C (Mason Versaw) 21 Erika (Lana Condor) 25 4
7 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Harvey (Ross Lynch) 22 Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) 18 4
8 First Kill Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) 27 Calliope (Imani Lewis) 23 4
9 All the Bright Places Theodore (Justice Smith) 24 Violet (Elle Fanning) 21 3
10 Mr. Iglesias Mikey (Fabrizio Guido) 20 Marisol (Cree Cicchino) 17 3

 

For the final chapter of our study, we looked at the different co-stars in every Netflix Original movie and TV show and compared the age gap between the leading love interests.

At the top once again, Never Have I Ever has the biggest age gap between the lead actors. Darren Barnet (Paxton Hall-Yoshida) is 9 years older than Maitreyi Ramakrishnan  – the actor who plays the main character Devi, Paxton’s love interest – who was 18 when it first released in 2020.

In joint second place, with a difference of 5 years each, we have Work It and Insatiable. In Work It, Sabrina Carpenter, who plays Quinn Ackerman, is 5 years younger than her co-star Jordan Fisher who plays Quinn’s love interest, Jake. Similarly, but with the genders reversed, in Insatiable, Brick’s actor, Michael Provost, is 5 years younger than his on-screen love interest’s actor, Debby Ryan, who plays Patty.

So what are the takeaways from this study? Partly, it’s to highlight that, on average, female actors tend to be younger than their male co-stars. But, mostly, it’s just a bit of fun and a chance to show off what our data team can do! 

Methodology

Using a python web scraper, we crawled Netflix Fandom (1) (2) to collect a list of Netflix Original teen movies and TV shows and their starring actors. These actors were then fed into an IMDb API, which supplied their date of birth. Any date of birth not present was manually collected from Wikipedia.

Where a movie has sequels, we only considered the actors present in the first movie franchise. Where a TV show has multiple seasons, we only considered the actors present in the first season. Love interests are based on the first movie and/or TV show. 

As some movies/TV shows have multiple main characters, to avoid disparities, we only considered the leading two characters.

Amber Baker from Novos
Article by Amber Baker
Amber is one of NOVOS’s content producers. Prior to working at NOVOS, she worked for a number of different eCommerce companies for over 10 years in various roles before ultimately settling on writing. She’s particularly proficient at adapting the Tone of Voice for clients, creating product descriptions, and writing blog posts.

Acting your age: Revealing the age gaps in Netflix’s most popular teen movies and shows

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