In this article I explore the highly problematic but wildly acclaimed romantic relationship between Aria Montgomery, a high school junior, and her English teacher Ezra Fitz in the television series Pretty Little Liars. This partnership normalizes gendered power imbalances often common to heterosexual partnerships, yet fervent fans have supported the duo enthusiastically, dubbing the couple #Ezria in blogs and social media. As we know, much research shows that along with unintended pregnancy, young girls who are victims of child sexual abuse by adult males suffer from depression. These outcomes are not shown in Pretty Little Liars: the series ends with Aria marrying her teacher in an example of a happily-ever-after ending, thereby reinforcing postfeminist ideas that Aria's self-efficacy has never been compromised. I argue that in the era of #Metoo, the exploration of power in heterosexual romantic relationships on television shows aimed at adolescent girl audiences is a site for critical analysis.
Shara Crookston (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9479-1226) is Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Toledo. Her research and teaching interests focus on depictions of adolescent girlhood in popular culture, women and the body, and girls in sports. She is currently conducting research on feminist narratives in Teen Vogue. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AAUW Educational Foundation. 2001. “Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America's Schools.” American Association of University Women. Washington, D.C.http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/hostile-hallways-bullying-teasing-and-sexual-harassment-in-school.pdf (accessed 9May2017).)| false
BunchCharlotte. 1972. “Lesbians in Revolt.” In Feminist Frameworks: Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relations between Men and Women (3rd. ed.) ed. Alison M.Jagger and Paula S.Rothenberg144–148. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Bunch, Charlotte. 1972. “Lesbians in Revolt.” In Feminist Frameworks: Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relations between Men and Women, (3rd. ed.) ed. Alison M.Jagger and Paula S.Rothenberg, 144–148. Boston: McGraw-Hill.)| false
Etkin, Jaimie. (2011) 2017. “Don't Stand So Close to Me: Pretty Little Liars’ Student-Teacher Love Story.” , 13July. https://www.thedailybeast.com/pretty-little-liars-student-teacher-love-story (accessed 19March2019).)| false
Flynn, Caitlin. 2017. “The Most Problematic Part of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ is also the Most Realistic.” , 27June. https://www.bustle.com/p/the-most-problematic-part-of-pretty-little-liars-is-also-the-most-realistic-64832 (accessed 20March2019).)| false
FordKathleen and James M.Lepkowski. 2004. “Characteristics of Sexual Partners and STD Infections Among American Adolescents.” International Journal of STD and AIDS15 (4): 260–265. https://doi.org/10.1258/095646204773557802
Ford, Kathleen, and James M.Lepkowski. 2004. “Characteristics of Sexual Partners and STD Infections Among American Adolescents.” 15 (4): 260–265. https://doi.org/10.1258/095646204773557802)| false
Hill, Catherine, and HollyKearl. 2011. “Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School.” Washington, DC: American Association of University Women. http://www.aauw.org/resource/crossing-the-line-sexual-harassment-at-school/ (accessed 14December2018).)| false
Orenstein, Hannah. 2017. “Why do so many TV Shows Feature Teen Girls Hooking up with Older Guys?” . 18May. https://www.seventeen.com/love/a46816/why-do-so-many-tv-shows-feature-teens-hooking-up-with-creepily-old-adults/ (accessed 15February2019).)| false
Reilly, Kaitlin. 2014. “‘Pretty Little Liars’ Ezra and Aria are the Most Dysfunctional Couple of All Time & Here are the 6 Reasons Why.” , 28May. https://www.bustle.com/articles/25697-pretty-little-liars-ezra-and-aria-are-the-most-dysfunctional-couple-of-all-time-here (accessed 29May2017).)| false
RichAdrienne. 1980. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” In Reading Feminist Theory: From Modernity to Postmodernity ed. Susan ArcherMann and Ashly SuzannePatterson117–123. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rich, Adrienne. 1980. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” In Reading Feminist Theory: From Modernity to Postmodernity, ed. Susan ArcherMann and Ashly SuzannePatterson, 117–123. New York: Oxford University Press.)| false
Ross, Robyn. 2011. “Pretty Little Liars’ Ian Harding: People are Going to be Angry at Ezra after the Finale.” , 20March. https://www.tvguide.com/news/pretty-little-liars-1030928/ (accessed 15April2019).)| false
RyanSuzanneKerryFranzettaJennifer S.Manlove and ErinSchelar. 2008. “Older Sexual Partners During Adolescence: Links to Reproductive Health Outcomes in Young Adulthood.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health40 (1):17–26. https://doi.org/10.1363/4001708
Ryan, Suzanne, KerryFranzetta, Jennifer S.Manlove, and ErinSchelar. 2008. “Older Sexual Partners During Adolescence: Links to Reproductive Health Outcomes in Young Adulthood.” 40 (1):17–26. https://doi.org/10.1363/4001708)| false
Smith, Rebecca. 2016. “Pretty Little Liars Has a Problem with Statutory Rape We Need to Discuss.” , 27June. http://www.refinery29.com/2016/07/117398/pretty-little-liars-ezra-aria-proposal-underage-girls-relationships (accessed 25April2017).)| false
Vineyard, Jennifer. 2017. “Pretty Little Liars Finale: How a Mystery Hid its Villain.” , 27June. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/arts/television/pretty-little-liars-finale-how-a-mystery-hid-its-villain.html (accessed 25March2019).)| false
Yahr, Emily. 2014. “Pretty Little Liars: When Will the Show Stop with its Creepy Underage Relationships?” , 10June. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2014/06/10/pretty-little-liars-when-will-the-show-stop-with-its-creepy-underage-relationships/?noredirect = on&utm_term = .62c4a940f484 (accessed 16January2019).)| false
ZurbriggenEileen L.Rebecca L.CollinsSharonLambTomi-AnnRobertsDeborah L.TolmanL. MoniqueWard and JeanneBlake. 2007. Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Washington, DC: Report to the American Psychological Association.
Zurbriggen, Eileen L., Rebecca L.Collins, SharonLamb, Tomi-AnnRoberts, Deborah L.Tolman, L. MoniqueWard, and JeanneBlake. 2007. Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Washington, DC: Report to the American Psychological Association.)| false