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‘Everything Sucks!’ About Its Actresses’ Whopping Age Difference

The hamartia of Netflix’s representation-packed 90’s throwback

User @katem1996 on Twitter

If you happen to find yourself binging Netflix’s new show Everything Sucks! in your spare time, you’re probably falling in love with its nostalgic 90’s soundtrack, campy high school setting, and endearing character dynamics. Everything seems to suck to Boring’s town population (yes, Boring), but the show follows a few geeky underclassmen of the A/V club as they unite with the avant-garde drama club to make a home movie. The journey is sweet, filled with emotional highs and lows as the teenagers bond.

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From just watching the episodes alone, it may seem as, for the most part, a perfectly harmless coming of age series. Except, it’s not.

Everything Sucks! has done one thing different than most teen television shows, and that’s cast actual teenagers or teenage-passing actors and actresses. Although it is an interesting breath of fresh air, it is not so in regards to one of the show’s main relationships – Emaline Addario and Kate Messner. Emaline is played by Sydney Sweeney, a twenty year-old actress. Kate is played by Peyton Kennedy, who is fourteen. Although they both pass as high schoolers, the six year age difference between their actresses and their ages themselves has alarmed many.

http://alcohol-ish.tumblr.com/post/171028625872/hey-friendly-reminder-that-while-everything

Although there are fans who argue that it’s no big deal, the general consensus of social media seems to be that it is, at the very least, inappropriate. Some call it absolutely disgusting. The age difference seems to be very Emison-esque, in reference to Sasha Pieterse and Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars who filmed their first kiss with a nine year age difference while Sasha was twelve – an age difference that wasn’t taken too harshly because they are both women. Most fans of Emaline and Kate seem to either sweep it under the rug or attempt to refute the controversy with reasoning that simply would not fly if the age difference was between a male and a female in their positions today.

https://alyciasgold.tumblr.com/post/170969783115/i-like-you-is-that-okay

The problem is not Everything Sucks! ‘s actresses simply having a six year age difference, but the age difference in relation to their current ages. This taints the image of the characters themselves and makes it seem predatory to the informed audience, regardless of whether or not the actresses or crew considered it an issue.

If this isn’t enough evidence for you that the show has overstepped, episode one unnecessarily features a high school sophomore girl about to masturbate. She’s also the same girl played by a fourteen year old. The scene is reminiscent of Netflix’s other original show Big Mouth which shows animated children performing sexual acts under the shield of the comedy label. It is another example of Netflix attempting to capture pubescence as accurately as possible but ending up closer to child pornography.

Everything Sucks! is a great concept which was executed well in terms of characters, plot-lines, and representation. Having a black boy and lesbian as protagonists, a lovable interracial single parents’ romance, and a high school setting without a jock in sight was a win for diversity. But the show will never have the clean reputation it was going for with its poor mistakes involving the minors in its cast.

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  1. Completely disagree with this article’s judgements and puritanical approach. I don’t understand American’s obsession with pedophilia and scandalized reactions to this couple, the fact that you even bring up pedophilia in this article is frankly disgusting. I can assure you that most people outside of the USA are not thinking about that. Three things:

    First, notice how people are acting outraged and alarmed at this couple but they rarely react this way when it comes to straight couples on screen? Mila Kunis was 14 and Ashton Kutcher 21 when they were a couple on a show and there was hardly any negative reactions and there are plenty of other examples of that, but when its a gay couple then suddenly all hell breaks loose. Hetero teens having sex or being shown as sexual beings is so normalized in pop culture but if it’s gay teens then it’s deemed as inappropiate. That is a homophobic double standard. (For the record, the actress was actually 19 while filimg, so still a teen). Just remember last year when youtube blocked a video of a young gay teen boy for coming out as being something NC-17. I forgot his name.

    Second thing, the representations in pop culture of male teens who masturbate are ubiquitous, it’s one of the most common tropes about the high school experience of boys and it’s everywhere, but god forbids a teenaged girl is depicted having sexual urges and even masturbating because OMG how can this be. Mind you that scene is NOT graphic at all, it doesn’t show anything, it just implies it throug clever cinematographic work.

    Lastly, the accusations about it being predatory are ludicrous and borderline misogynistic. It is rarely women who act predatory, 95% of such attitudes come from males, stop pretending that abuse or pedophilia aren’t largely gendered issues where almost the entirety of the abusers aren’t males. The fact that it’s a woman actually makes this safer, unless you’re one of those colorblind, gender blind postmodern individuals who think it’s all the same.

    Now I would have agreed with these outraged reactions if the characters were supposed to be those ages, but they are not. These are ACTRESSES acting a role of a 15 and a 16 year old girl. The actresses are not kissing and having sex in real life and even their interaction on screen are totally PG, their kiss was very chaste. This is not even a sexual show.

    I see that this author is in high school herself and this all makes sense now.

  2. Also im not a pedophile cuz techilly im a child so idc XD lol u were ganna say im a pedo lol no *coudarksoulsgh* $o u play roblox or dark souls or watever im ored im goin to play overwatch burp xD why did i comment on here

  3. I luv this ship who cares about the age its acting so wat i just care about the age in the show if you nver watched this show and dont wanna cuz of the comments who care about the comments just watch just show dont let a liltle comments ruin it for u

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Written by Catherine Horkay

Cat is a 5'0 senior in high school with dreams that reside much higher than her height. Her passions include academia, berry smoothies, and LGBTQ+ rights. (IG/TWIT: @catnipscarlet)