There's a central mystery to HBO's slow-burning murder mystery Sharp Objects: Who murdered the two girls in Wind Gap, Missouri? But there's another one that has been equally nagging viewers: Just how old is Amma (Eliza Scanlen) supposed to be? It should be a simple question; age isn't exactly fluid. But the answer has proved more perplexing than that -- and that's, in part, a function of what the show is trying to accomplish.
Amma is the younger half-sister of Amy Adams' heroine Camille Preaker, but they're basically strangers. The first time Camille encounters Amma -- loitering outside the search area for a recently murdered Natalie Keene -- they don't even acknowledge (or recognize) their connection. Amma, we soon learn, lives a double life. When she's with her mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson), she's outfitted in bows and modest dresses, but she transforms into a full rebellious teen in tank tops, bomber jackets, and short shorts when she goes out roller skating with her friends. Outside of her house, she seems like she'd be in her late-teens, smoking weed and slamming booze with other rowdy youngsters bored in small-town Missouri. Inside, she lets Adora cradle and dote on her like a child -- and a creepy Stepford child at that. When she talks -- especially when she's with Camille -- she sounds like she's seen some shit.
Scanlen, the Australian actress who plays Amma, is 19. That's a big difference from how old Gillian Flynn wrote the character in the novel on which the series is based. There, she's 13. TV Amma is somewhere in the middle -- but where, exactly?