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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?

Originally posted February 7 2011 — 6:00 PM EST

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