Management: Just a mini-question today, since I found myself searching the archives for this and realized I’d never posted it in the first place. Organization!
Are shows starring adults meaningfully different from those starring teenagers? Are shows set in college meaningfully different from those set in middle or high school? I ask because I see this distinction made all the time, but generally it doesn’t seem meaningfully different outside of a setting/character-appearance sense.
They certainly ought to be! Adults, college-age people, and teenagers all have different central concerns, different degrees of experience, different manners of speaking – if characters are written so that they’re actually reflective of their experiences, shows about adults should naturally be fundamentally different from shows about teenagers. Plus, characters aside, there are many themes and narrative focuses that make the distinction particularly relevant. For example, Samurai Flamenco is very clearly a show about the disconnect between youthful ideals and adult realities – so yes, it wouldn’t really work as a show about teenagers. Cowboy Bebop is similar – its themes are echoes of those found in films like Seven Samurai, the story of the old soldier trying to find purpose in a world that has moved past him. That pretty much necessitates adult characters. And that of course works in the other direction, as well – Evangelion would be a very different show if Shinji weren’t a deeply insecure teenager, and FLCL is pretty much entirely about puberty and adolescence in general. Some of my favorites are master classes in this – Eccentric Family, for example, thoughtfully portrays the very different concerns of characters ranging from early adolescence through old age, all of which reflects on its themes of living well, family, and responsibility.
Granted, many shows don’t write characters that seem believably reflective of their experiences, and when you combine that with shows focused wholly on something like action or comedy (things that don’t necessarily reflect on the grounded circumstances of those characters’ lives), you can get situations where the characters’ age isn’t a meaningful distinction. But most of the time it really should be.