Enough with the hot-for-teacher stories, TV

Hot for teacher isn’t exactly a fresh narrative device, but in the last few months, it’s been eh-eh-eh-everywhere, with three teenage girl characters getting more than their fair share of extra credit: It started with Aria on Pretty Little Liars, then it was Lux on Life Unexpected (RIP), and now it’s Cara Lynn on Big Love. (Cara Lynn and Mr. Ivey haven’t crossed any lines yet, though their chemistry seems to be foreshadowing something untoward.) Study hard, ladies.

Both Aria and Lux met their professorial paramours in bars, which I guess briefly explains the men’s lecherous, illegal, and morally wrong behavior, though it certainly does not excuse it. On Life Unexpected, when Lux’s parents found out about her relationship with Mr. Daniels, they freaked out and drove him out of town (but agreed not to press charges if he vowed never to contact their 16-year-old kid again). I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt and see the inappropriate relationship is an expression of Lux’s troubled personal history as a victim of sexual abuse, rather than just a sort of salacious storyline intended to entice new viewers. (It didn’t.) But Pretty Little Liars isn’t as grounded or nuanced as LUX. I think we’re supposed to be rooting for Aria and Mr. Fitz, and that kind of gives me the creeps: I can’t get behind a romance that, if consummated, would be statutory rape.

It’s not clear yet what exactly the relationship is between Mr. Ivey and Cara Lynn on Big Love, though so far it seems that they see each other as more than just teacher and student. (“You told your parents about me?” Oy.) Given the show’s deep history of exploring coercive relationships between young women and older men, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the show go down that road again, although for the story’s sake, I hope there’s more to this than just another creeper trying to get on a daughter of polygamy. We’ll see!

These are not my favorite storylines on these shows, and not just because I find normalizing and minimizing statutory rape to be offensive. These stories are also played the hell out.

Are you as tired of hot-for-teacher stories as I am, PopWatchers?

Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • Sara

    Here Here

    I’d like to include all adult/teen relationships on that. Hattie and Alex on Parenthood drive me nuts also. The parents are upset because he’s older and an alcoholic, well how about mentioning that the relationship is ILLEGAL

    • Law101

      The relationship isn’t illegal. Sexual intercourse is illegal.

    • jack

      same with Chris and his teacher on Skins (at least in the British version). It’s a pretty bland and not at all relatable storyline but I don’t find it offensive in any way

      • Owen

        Chris and his teacher seem on the same path in the American “Skins”…its odd, as it was much more understandable in the Brit version as Chris was so charming. In the American both teacher and student are….bad actors…

      • Petra

        That’s the difference between the US and UK version of Skins. In the UK version the relationship wasn’t illegal as over here sex is legal at 16.
        It makes a huge difference to the plot.

    • mscisluv

      Hattie & Alex are 16 & 19 (respectively). In many states, the age of consent is 16. But Law101 is right – having sex can be illegal/legal, but not the actual relationship.

  • kat

    I agree. PLL makes it seem like we’re supposed to ship Ezra and aria and that they’re ~soulmates~ but i can’t get past the creepiness. that relationship is the worst of the major story lines.

  • DJ

    All this talk about hot-for-teacher stories makes me nervous–and my socks are too loose.

  • Dan

    16 is not statutory rape in most states you know. a few states, like Arizona it is, but most states have a threshhold of 15 years old. At 16, the teen can consent. The only caveat is if the person is in a position of power, such as teacher or clergy.

    • Stevie

      It’s actually 17 in most states…

  • Bear

    Well, it’s good to see an article speak out about this. I now await the inevitable comments requesting that Margaret Lyons chill out/get over it, and advocating a change in the laws regarding adult/child relationships because, you know, our culture’s so evolved now.

  • Stacey

    At least with Pretty Little Liars. I love Aria and Ezra BUT I know it’s creepy and twisted. It’s television and fiction. Real life; no go. But television if I like the couple. I can go with it but know it’s wrong. I do think there will repreccusions at least on PLL despite the premise of the show with all the guys slightly screwed up or completely screwed up. Ain’t a good guy in the bunch. The trend in this type of storyline on television this season is quite different. And it’s television; so it’s easier to do. At least with PLL as of right now; they haven’t gone too far with Aria and Ezra unlike the book aparently even though I haven’t read it. So the question if how far will they take it and will Aria’s parents find out and given Aria’s dad’s history; what will they do about it? Yes it’s wrong to think Aria and Ezra as soulmates but it’s television, so I kinda like it.

    • Martha

      i kinda like them too. and i think the reason it doesnt creep me out as much as usual is because they are so close in age in real life. and shes actually 21.

      • Stacey

        Yup. And on the show PLL. It’s not like he’s a 35 year old. He early 20′s I believe. Yes I know it’s wrong, and inappropriate. But it’s television and FICTION. But I do think the show needs to pick how far they are willing to take it and go there soon because it does get sorta boring to hear them just talk about their relationship. If you’re selling something wrong; go all the way. Don’t have it half way. Even though I do like they are showing that it’s more than just sex. They have a connection that is beyond. But still I like them despite how inappropriate it is.

    • miss k

      I actually do like Aria and Ezra too. I can’t help but cheer for them.

      • the_girl

        I agree – even though they have hinted at the fact that Ezra & Aria have slept together, I still cheer for them on some level, because he doesn’t appear to be trying to take advantage of her youth and naivete. If he were more lecherous I would feel differently. And I also have to ask the question… WHAT was Aria doing in a BAR in the FIRST place? Which kind of makes it not Ezra’s fault for starting a relationship with someone he THOUGHT was old enough.

  • Frank Anderson

    Funny to read a writer from EW complain about something being over-exposed. Like this site doesn’t cover CW shows hourly.

  • frank

    Hmmm, i dont watch any of these shows, but if i were a 16 year old girl, it would give me some ideas. Shame on you tv for taking the place of caring parents, but since there are more tvs showing garbage, and less caring parents these shows will survive.

    • Jenz

      Shame on the 16 year olds if they’re stupid enough to get ideas from CW shows. Shame on the parents for raising such teens. A large chunk of teenagers end up with crushes on their teachers regardless of what tv shows they watch. I had crushes on at least 3 of my high school teachers. Teenagers are hormonal and let’s face it some HS teachers are pretty young and hot. I did not act on these crushes even though I’ve seen plenty of student/teacher relationships in the media. I also don’t shoot people because I play video games.

      • Courtney

        Only one of the shows mentioned is a CW show, just FYI.

      • Jenz

        I know only one was CW but I thought it would’ve ruined the point if I said “…to get ideas from CW, ABC Family, MTV and every other network that portrays teens ‘misbehaving’.”

      • Kat

        Totally, Jenz. My 10th grade history teacher, my 6th grade langugage arts teacher, one of my superiors at my high school job who was totally in his 30s, and I think I even convinced myself at one point in my overhormonal state that I had a crush on my not-terribly-young priest. I knew these men were not appropriate, I knew they did not and would not feel the same and probably hated teen girls crushing on them….it’s just how teenage girls are.

      • gloria

        LOL, yeah, why not misrepresent the facts just to keep from “ruining your point.” Because obviously your point is more important than, you know, the TRUTH. Conceited little girl, ain’t ya?

  • dee123

    Her friends are so jealous
    You know how bad girls get
    Sometimes it’s not so easy
    To be the teachers pet.

    • Ellie

      It’s no use, he sees her, he starts to shake and cough. Just like the old man (Humbert) in that book by Nabokov (Lolita).

      • DJ

        Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad–I’m hot for teacher.

    • mom

      nice poem… you’re talented. keep it up.

  • Margie

    I agree!

  • DW

    Don’t forget Julie and her TA on Friday Night Lights recently. Though at least that wasn’t illegal!

  • NikkiH

    The Aria/Ezra romance grosses me out… Actually any teacher romance really grosses me out, no matter how young the teacher is. It’s not right, and although I love to watch PLL, I agree that I am tired to the teacher/student romance storylines.

  • dropper

    Well said. I enjoy watching PLL, but the Aria/Ezra storyline is my least favorite. It’s sleazy and frankly it drags down Aria’s character. I am sick of hearing her whine about how she can’t publicly be with Ezra. Eh, I really wish that “A” would blow the lid on the relationship so we can all move on.

    • andora

      Aria/Ezra is my least favorite part of the show too, but it cracks me up when the other girls refer to him as “Mr. Fitz” and Aria whines “why can’t you just call him Ezra?!” (Not a direct quote, despite the punctuation).

    • leslie

      Agree! PLL is my guilty pleasure but I can’t stand watching the Aria/Ezra relationship. She looks like child’s doll and the whole thing just gives me creeps. And I’m the show’s demographic (well maybe a few years older – out of college).

  • Gah

    the ezra/aria relationship creeps me out! i am so uncomfortable when they are on the screen

  • Karen

    I’m a high school teacher so, for me, showing these types of relationships is extremely disturbing. I don’t care wgat ge age of consent is. It is WRONG for an adult to become involved with a teenager, especially when that adult is someone in a position of power. It disturbs me even further that tv shows are romanticizing these relationships. Show the long-term damage that it does to the teen instead of trying to make it hot and sexy.

    • whatevs

      The media romanticizes everything that’s wrong. It was about time this kind of thing got on board. Next it’ll be incest.

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