Pretty Little Liars” is a lot like Desperate Housewivesbut for teens – secrets, double-cross, murder and mayhem, all intertwined with a little romance.  I’m a few decades out of my teen years, but nevertheless I love it. The one aspect that’s a little creepy for me is the romance element of it. As a parent, it is very difficult to watch 16-year old kids in romances that lead to sexual intercourse (though thankfully they leave most of it up to the imagination). Nonetheless, I’d like to pretend that sexual relation don’t take place at 16, but I know in reality does.

If I still had teenagers, I’d certainly watch the show together with them – it would open up all kinds of opportunities to discuss what’s appropriate, what’s expected, and how to cope with their sexuality safely. I love that the show covers just about all this – not just the deep emotions of romance, but also the practical elements like pregnancy prevention, as well as safeguarding your heart.

There is one particular romance that’s really challenging for me.  It’s 16-year old Aria and her teacher Mr. Fitz. Not just because it’s an illegal relationship, but because the writers appear to romanticize the relationship and that’s not realistic.  This isn’t enough information given about how and why it’s illegal and what is shared is glossed over like it’s unimportant.  Yes, it’s a taboo relationship and I suppose that’s the purpose, but there’s no discussion about the long-term damage that can happen to a minor in such a case, and because of that I’m not supportive of this kind of relationship, even in a work of fiction especially one aimed at teens.  It’s too bad that it’s included in the show, but as a discussion point, I guess it has some value.

Now the adult relationships are interesting, and they’re the ones that probably make teens’ cringe. And they are a bit edgy (ie. Hanna’s mom sleeps with police detective so he won’t file charges when Hanna’s caught shoplifting) and unrealistic, but hey they’re consenting adults. I guess I need to remember that it’s just a story and not real life! And that’s what makes it fun.

Pretty Little Liars – Romance (video)

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