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No, the ‘Crowded Room’ Age Difference Isn’t Really That Odd

Emmy Rossum. Amanda Seyfried, and Tom holland at the premiere for hte Crowded room

The Crowded Room is the new show from Apple TV+ that features Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan, a troubled young man who we follow through a series of flashbacks exploring how he ended up involved in a shooting. We get to meet people from his past, as well as his stepfather and his mother, Candy (Emmy Rossum), who very clearly wants to try to find the best way to be there for her son. Tom Holland’s Danny is in his 20s during the majority of the show, but we also get to flash back to his life when he’s younger.

So what has been frustrating is the sea of articles talking about the age different between Rossum and Holland and the shock that she’s playing his mother, when she’s only ten years older in real life. She plays Danny’s mother throughout different time periods in the show, and the few times she’s opposite Tom Holland, he’s playing Danny while he’s in high school. So already, their age difference isn’t that big of a deal because they’re both playing younger than they are.

Rossum also has scenes with a younger version of Danny from when he was a kid, so we’re seeing Rossum play around 15 years of Candy’s life. She told ET, “It makes sense when I read the script. Candy’s a super young mom, she’s almost a child in her own right when she becomes pregnant at age 16. You watch as I age from 25 to 35, which is actually younger than I am now.”

Given the wide ranges of their ages, dynamic, and the story, I don’t think it’s that odd that they’re mother and son. Rossum also plays 10+ years younger than her own age at certain points, just like Holland. The reason there’s been such a strong reaction is a very real problem in Hollywood with how women’s ages are handled, but this is the wrong example to make the point.

It is a problem, just not with The Crowded Room

Often, women hit a certain age and are type cast into a specific kind of role. It could be as young as a woman in her early 30s, and she might instantly be labeled as a mother from here on out, with men who are around her same age playing her children. It’s one of the ways Hollywood reinforces the obsession with youth in beauty standards for women, giving older roles to younger women, which results in actresses being pushed out of the roles they should be aging into as they get older.

It’s happened over and over again, and it’s a very real problem, but it’s not really what’s going on here. Yes, they’ve made her look older when Candy is supposed to be older, but Rossum brings Candy to life (especially in her younger single mom years) in a way that you’re drawn to. And the show highlights her growth and the ages that Holland is playing. Casting someone who was the correct age to be his mother while playing with time in this way would have been hard, and allowing Rossum to play younger than herself is the opposite of the usual issue with this kind of age difference.

The context of The Crowded Room just makes it so that Rossum playing Holland’s mother is less about the age difference and more about this mother/son dynamic, and it works incredibly well in the series.

(featured image: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.