you go through so much growth in your teen years and young adulthood

So, why do I think this group of six white men from suburban Philadelphia is better than all the other groups of suburban white men playing pop-punk out there in the world? I could easily write a long list, but in the end, it comes down to growth. The Wonder Years have allowed themselves to grow and evolve as a band as they’ve grown and evolved into adulthood, with all the messiness and complications that come with it. And they have trusted their audience to follow them on that journey.

Part of it, I think, is their longevity. The Wonder Years are going strong ten years into their career, while so many of their peers have burned out after a record or two in their early to mid twenties. But more importantly, they aren’t afraid of alienating their fans, of trying new things, of writing about their lives and the ways they move through the world.

Pop-punk as a whole is not a genre particularly known for its innovation and maturity. Take genre elders New Found Glory. Undoubtedly they are one of the most important pop-punk bands of the 21st century. Pretty much every band in the genre today cites them as a direct influence to some degree, The Wonder Years included. But for the past 20 years they have been making essentially the same record over and over again. (There was a minor diversion in 2006’s Coming Home, but it wasn’t anything more than a blip on the radar. 2009’s Not Without A Fight picked right back up where they had left off, pardon the pun). And that’s not to say that the one album NFG has been making all these years isn’t good, I own and enjoy every single one of them, but there has been no progression in their sound and in their lyrics. They’re late-30-something men writing the same songs they made in their late teens. And they are far from the only pop-punk band to do that. What makes The Wonder Years special, and worth spending a whole week writing about, is that they have grown. Their perspectives have changed and the songs they wrote when they were 18 are not the songs they’re writing now.

For a quick study in these contrasts, look at “Melrose Diner,” off their breakout album The Upsides and “You In January,” from their most recent release No Closer To Heaven. TWY don’t really write about love and relationships very much, an anomaly for the genre, but in the beginning of their career, Dan Campbell, the band’s singer and primary lyricist, was willing to disparage his ex as a way to disparage himself. In “Melrose Diner” he lists petty things he hates about an ex girlfriend, and he can’t stand seeing her with some other guy. His friends bag on this new dude, trying to make him feel better, but in the end he still wishes she was around. As far as pop-punk songs about exes go, it’s pretty mild, and in the end, it’s more about Campbell’s loneliness and wanting to push people away, but I still think it fits more within the paradigm than not. (Sidenote: there should be more pro wrestling themed music videos in the world. Get on that, music).

Five years later, on “You In January,” Campbell shares small moments of intimacy with his wife. The first day in their new apartment together, places they’ve traveled, running the dishwasher before he leaves for a long tour. And obviously the difference in tone from an ex to a longtime partner is a huge component in how these songs come across, but since pop-punk is such an overwhelming young genre, its love songs tend to be visceral, positively or negatively. “You In January” conveys love in its small ways, it has the nuance of growing up, the way “Melrose Diner” lacks.

So this week I’m going to look at TWY through the major themes they tackle in their music, and how they’ve grown in their perspectives. Their songs about mental health, loss, home, and trying to find out who you are and your place in the world are not, on their surface, a revelation; these are themes that have been tackled a million times in a million genres by a million bands. But the questions they ask and leave unanswered, the vulnerability they show are a revelation for a genre often still trapped in the confines of white suburban masculinity.

Actors on The 100 average 10 years older than their characters

I made this post here of a GIF set age-appropriate actors for the delinquents on The 100.

I’d like to preference this by saying that I have NOTHING against any of the actors on The 100. I think they’ve all done a wonderful job. However, their ages is something I’ve been musing on lately, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like and look like if the actors were actually teenagers.

Characters’ ages vs Actors’ ages 

  • Clarke 18 - Eliza 25 (7 years older) 
  • Bellamy 23 - Bob 31 (8 years older)
  • Octavia 16 - Marie 29 (13 years older)
  • Jasper 15 - Devon 24 (9 years older)
  • Monty 15 - Chrisopher 28 (13 years older)
  • Raven 18 - Lindsey 26 (7 years older)
  • Murphy 16 -  Richard 24 (8 years older)
  • Miller 17 - Jared 29 (12 years older)
  • Finn 17 - Thomas 29 (12 years older)
  • Monroe 17 - Katie 30 (15 years older)
  • Harper 17 - Chelsey 29 (14 years older)
  • Fox 15 - Genevieve 24 (9 years older)
  • Sterling 16 - Keenan 25 (9 years older)
  • Maya 17 - Eve 26 (9 years older)
  • Wells 17 - Eli 25 (8 years older)
  • Atom 17 - Rhys 25 (8 years older)

On average, the actors are 10 years older than their character.

On TV, I expect the actors to be older than their character. With work hours, I understand the advantage of having an actor who is at least 18. That said, if a show wants their characters to look the age they are supposed to, in general they should keep the actor within 5 years of the character’s age. The younger the character, the smaller the age gap between character and actor can be. 

10 years older is too much. I don’t care if the actor looks young for their age (that’s an overrated statement that’s often untrue), most likely they do not look THAT young. Teenagers have a unique look that is between childhood and young adulthood. 15-16 year olds especially have a unique look. Boys often are awkward at this age, having just gone through a growth spurt, they have that gangly look. Girls are usually finished growing in height, but their faces still resemble a child’s.  

That’s a 16-year-old

Vs a 28-year-old

Most people in their 20′s look like they are in their 20′s. Common sense, right?  Some people look older or younger than average, but very few fall out of that five years give or take, because variation is normal, looking ‘young’ is normal. Some people throw out the looking young comment without really knowing what a young person looks like, especially if they think a young adult looks like a teen. 

So why didn’t The 100 cast younger actors? If they didn’t want real teens, then why not actors 18-20? NONE of their main actors are under 24.

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