So you’re watching “Rosewood” and enjoying the story of Miami pathologist Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut), his law enforcement colleages and his mom Donna, played by the wonderful “Orange Is the New Black” alum Lorraine Toussaint … and wait a second, isn’t she a little young to be playing Chestnut’s mom?
Yes, she is, and she’s not alone. There’s a long tradition of casting actors who are far too young to play the parents of the actor cast as their adult child — last year saw “Marry Me” and “Happyland” both tread into this territory, though it reached a ridiculous height on TNT’s “Dallas” when Judith Light played Mitch Pileggi’s mother, despite being just three years older than him.
Here are three examples of age-suspect casting currently on your screens, ranked from most to least distracting.
The family: Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut, born 1969) and mom Donna (Lorraine Toussaint, born 1960)
Distraction level: Moderate to high
The problem here lies not with Chestnut playing younger or Toussaint playing older (or her real-life age, actually) because they’re both fine actors. The problem is the fact that the two of them on screen together don’t look far enough apart in age to be parent-child. Like, at all.
However, as Toussaint explained to the 2015 summer TV press tour, “Black don’t crack.”
“All joking aside, in the black community, sometimes it’s very difficult to tell who is who and what’s what, because we age well,” says the actress.
2. ‘Jane the Virgin’
The family: Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez, born 1984) and mom Xiomara (Andrea Navedo, born 1977)
Distraction level: Moderate
A seven-year age gap is almost impossible for a mother and daughter. However, Rodriguez is playing 23, while Navedo is clearly in her late 30s, as the storyline established that Xiomara had Jane in her teens. Plus, “Jane” works on a lot of other levels, so it’s easy not to dwell on the age difference.
The family: Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson, born 1970) and dad Pops (Laurence Fishburne, born 1961)
Distraction level: Low
Though Fishburne is only nine years older than Anderson, his gray beard and general crotchetiness on “Black-ish” help him sell that he’s playing someone older. It doesn’t hurt that we carry the memory of Fishburne playing the father of a teenager 20-plus years ago in “Boyz n the Hood” — the timeline tracks to him having a 40-ish son now.