Generation on HBO Max is the latest in a string of teen-oriented series that are contributing to the diverse spectrum of representation on television right now. Created by Zelda Barnz and Daniel Barnz, it is described as "a dark yet playful half-hour series following a diverse group of high school students whose exploration of modern sexuality (devices and all) tests deeply entrenched beliefs about life, love and the nature of family in their conservative community."
The series stars Nathanya Alexander, Chloe East, Nava Mau, Lukita Maxwell, Haley Sanchez, Uly Schlesinger, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Chase Sui Wonders with Justice Smith and Martha Plimpton. Shadow and Act recently sat down with Alexander and Maxwell to talk about the series and this season so far.
Talking about landing the role, Alexander said, "When I got the role, I cried, first of all, because I was like, 'What!?' But [when] reading the script, I laughed out loud, which I really do reading scripts, and I thought that was so cool how funny it was on the page. For my character, Ariana, I thought that she was so non-stereotypical and just very complex and had depth to her."
Maxwell added, "When I got the script for the first time, I just kind of freaked out and put it on a pedestal. I was like, this is a dream audition that I would never, ever get. The writing is so tangible to me and my generation. You could tell just right off the page that whoever wrote it knew what was going on in our Gen Z world and wanted to say something."
Something specific about Generation is its portrayal of Gen Z when most teen-centered narratives in recent years have focused on millennials. But as Generation shows, there is a big gap between the generations -- and not only that -- but such an array of representation within Gen Z itself.
"The crazy thing about Gen Z and Millennials is the range is incredible," said Alexander. "You have so many different backgrounds of Millennials and Gen Z, and I feel a lot of shows do a great job with representing that. We have Euphoria, we have our show...I feel like there's a lot of TV shows out there that do a good job with representing Gen Z and millennials because there's a wide, wide range of different kinds of Gen Z and millennials."
"I personally found, kind of that group of Gen Z people to connect with, not through film and television," added Maxwell. "For me personally, it was the arts world. I joined this magazine arts collective. When I was growing up in a conservative town in Utah, I didn't really have any friends that were open to talking about anything that I was interested in, talking about my career identity, talking to somebody about my racial identity and what that means to me. I found this arts collective that is now like a magazine that I work with that I love. That was the community that I found that was really, really pure Gen Z art because it was being produced for and by Gen Z kids and it wasn't filtered. I think that kind of experience being able to be around all of those people and having all of these Gen Z voices definitely influenced my work on the show because all of these Gen Z voices are so sure of what they want in this world and like how they want to change it and what they want to hear from media."
And even for the actresses, some of the lingo and references require a double-take.
"I felt old were going on the show because there were so many different slangs and things that I did not know that was in the script that I had to ask," joked Alexander. "I had to ask, 'What is a pillow princess?' [laughs] I've never heard of that ever. And 'Who is this artist?' I don't know this artist. So it was definitely informative working on the show as well."
Check out the full interview below in which they talk more about the remainder of the season and more:
New episodes of Generation drop weekly on HBO Max.