Does ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Glorify Statutory Rape With The ‘Ezria’ Relationship? [Opinion]

Whether fans of Pretty Little Liars want to admit it or not, the series has had a statutory rape problem from the very beginning. As the series which made its debut back in 2010 is finally coming to an end, many fans still find themselves rooting for the relationship between Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) and Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding), affectionately known as “Ezria.”

May contain spoilers for those who aren’t up to date on the series.

The question is – should Ezria be a relationship fans continue to root for? Should it be one of the celebrated relationships of the series? Or, should Pretty Little Liars have taken a different approach to Ezria. After all, the relationship between Aria Montgomery and Ezra Fitz – from a legal standpoint anyway – wasn’t really a relationship at all, it was statutory rape.

According to The Huffington Post, Ezria was a creepy relationship and Ezra should have been put behind bars the moment an adult found out about it. Furthermore, the storyline takes place in the state of Pennsylvania. While the age of consent is 16, that is only if the person they are consenting to is under the age of 18. By definition of the law in the state of Pennsylvania, the Ezria wasn’t a relationship. What Fitz and Montgomery had together was technically statutory rape.

Ian Harding and Lucy Hale attend the Pretty Little Liars season finale screening

But, Ezra didn’t know

Now, those who followed Pretty Little Liars will recall that Aria and Ezra technically met in the bar. The way the two characters met allowed the Ezria relationship to blossom with plausible deniability on the teacher’s side. The argument being that he met the teenager in a bar and hooked up in the bathroom – he had no idea she was his student. This, of course, changed when the same teenage girl he hooked up with sat down in his English classroom at Rosedale High on the first day of school.

Now, as the adult in the situation, the right thing for Ezra Fitz to have done in this situation was not to have any more contact with Aria Montgomery. For better or for worse, she was a child and he was an adult. As those who continued to watch Pretty Little Liars know, that isn’t what happened. Instead, the Ezria relationship continued to blossom.

While most would agree Lucy Hale and Ian Harding made an adorable couple on screen, one could argue it was because technically both Lucy and Ian were legally adults. In the show, however, Lucy played the role of a teenager. Within the storyline of the show – and regardless of how cute the two looked together – the relationship between Aria Montgomery and Ezra Fitz really shouldn’t have continued. Reiterating the fact that, legally, it was statutory rape.

Technically, he always knew

By the time Season 4 of Pretty Little Liars rolls around, fans learn a deep and dark secret about Ezra Fitz. While it is determined that he isn’t the mysterious and dangerous “A,” we do learn that he didn’t meet Aria Montgomery by chance. In fact, he knew exactly who she was the first time they met and the first time they hooked up.

This means that four years later, Pretty Little Liar fans learn that Ezra knew who Aria was. More importantly, he knew that she was a child and being in an intimate relationship with her was statutory rape. At this point in time in the series, even if you love how cute Lucy Hale and Ian Harding look together, you can’t help but have a slightly skewed version of Ezra Fitz. He knew Aria was underage when he met her and hooked up with her in the bathroom of that bar. Now, isn’t that kind of gross? Anyway you tell this story, he is willingly and knowingly committed statutory rape at this point.

Both the creator – Ina Marlene King – and Lucy Hale believe the relationship between Fitz and Montgomery is perfect. Hale once described the relationship as “super sexy,” and King told The Hollywood Reporter the two are “star-crossed lovers.”

Lucy Hale, Ian Harding and Ashley Benson attend the People's Choice Awards 2016

Those who are all caught up on Pretty Little Liars know the series is basically celebrating the Ezria relationship at these two as they are prepared to walk down the aisle together. Why is Pretty Little Liars celebrating a relationship with a foundation of statutory rape and lies? Not only did this relationship blossom from a place of statutory rape – it blossomed because Ezra manipulated Aria because of the book he was writing. Couldn’t it be argued that the series is glorifying statutory rape by romanticizing this creepy relationship?

Don’t forget to leave your thoughts on whether or not you think Ezria of Pretty Little Liars glorifies statutory rape.

[Featured Image by Alexandra Wyman/AP Images]