Pretty Big Problems: Media should be wary of glamorizing large age gaps in relationships.

Nyssa Qiao, Management

The famous freeform television series “Pretty Little Liars” finally draws to a close after airing for seven years. One of the anchoring couples on the show is Ezra Fitz and Aria Montgomery, whose relationship was widely-loved and supported by many. With Ezra proposing to Aria in the final season, it shows a happy ending for the couple at last. However, fans and screenwriters are ignoring a huge fact: their relationship started as an illegal encounter between the two. Ezra was 23 and Aria was only 16 when they made out in a club after neither was honest about their age. Though not without bumps, the relationship continued throughout the course of the show.

This inappropriate pattern of an older man having a relationship with an underage girl has been used to add drama and attention to shows—though the gender roles can also flip, seen in “Riverdale” between Archie when he was a high school sophomore and his music teacher, Miss Grundy. However, few have been used as extensively and without consequence as in “Pretty Little Liars.” Even Aria’s parents,  who opposed the relationship, eventually gave in.

Why are viewers okay with ignoring the fact these shows are glamorizing the illegal relationship between an adult and a minor as romantic? There’s a reason why laws are in place. A teacher or older adult is supposed to be someone mature who a younger person can turn to for guidance. When that line is crossed, it’s not like the TV shows—in reality, it’s manipulative, inappropriate and has consequences. Making these relationships seem desirable and attractively scandalous puts the wrong image into young viewers’ heads and shouldn’t be romanticized in the entertainment industry.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Nyssa Qiao at [email protected].