When I started watching Pretty Little Liars, I was around the same age as Aria Montgomery, played in the show by Lucy Hale. Prone to a teacher crush or two myself, I was excited that Aria's dashing English teacher, Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding), actually reciprocated her affection, even though that was the Number One Thing teachers shouldn't do.
Aria and Ezra's teacher-student affair was thrilling to me at the time — and that is absolutely problematic. Teacher-student affairs in pop culture are often depicted as a triumph of love conquering societal constraints. Romances like Aria and Ezra's know no bounds, including legal ones. With all their flourishes of sentimentality and sexiness, these shows tend to forget what these affairs really are examples of: statutory rape.
“The more we perpetuate the fantasy of the young student and the teacher, this attractive, kind, thoughtful, older figure ushering them into the world of sexuality, the harder it is as a young person to really identify when crossing the line into a nonconsensual experience because of the power imbalance,” Dr. Logan Levkoff told Teen Vogue.
Though Aria, Ezra, and their wedding has been the most prominent example of a teacher-student relationship in recent years, the trope pops up in almost every teen TV show. The vast majority of examples feature an English teacher, an age gap, and a dramatic fallout.
While not all of the entries on this list take place in high school, all feature an age and status gap. Here are the TV teacher-student affairs we really should think twice about.
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