Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ABC Family's Portrayal of Age-Discrepant Relationships

1st NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

This is an excerpt from the manuscript/first draft of my forthcoming creative non-fiction book, The Allure of Nymphets, From Charlie Chaplin to Mark Sanchez Man’s Fascination with Young Women:

On the very popular ABC Family teen drama, Pretty Little Liars, which was adapted from the series of books that I wrote about in a previous chapter, 16-year-old brunette Aria met Ezra at a bar, kissed him and “made out” with him in the bar’s bathroom before she found out the next day that Eric was actually Mr. Fitz, her new English teacher. But unlike Lux and Eric on the television show Life Unexpected, and maybe that is why Life Unexpected was cancelled after its second season, things did not stop there. Aria and Mr. Fitz continued to make out, among other places in his car and in his apartment. 

You may be asking yourself, “How can a television show get away with portraying a sixteen-year-old in a relationship with her English teacher and get away with it?” The answer is, "Easily." Pretty Little Liars is set in Pennsylvania where the age of consent is, you guessed it, sixteen-years-old. The writers strategically set the show in Pennsylvania, so they could legally shock its viewers. (It's worth mentioning here that Rob Lowe, met a girl in a bar as well, took her back to his hotel room, and videotaped himself having sex with her. And just like with Mr. Fitz, Rob was shocked to learn later that the girl was sixteen-years-old, but since the encounter occurred in Los Angeles where the age-of-consent is eighteen, Rob was forced to pay an undisclosed amount of money to the girl, do community service, and speak at prisons and halfway houses.)
When Mr. Fitz tried to end the liaison, not because of their age difference, but because he feared losing his job, Aria was portrayed as the aggressor in the relationship and as desperately wanting them to remain a couple.

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