I have a confession to make. I’ve been struggling with this addiction for a while now and need to get it off my chest. I, Terris Schneider, am addicted to watching teen shows. I’ve seen every teen show you could possibly imagine—whether it be all the CW shows (the new 90210, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl), the embarrassing ABC family lineup (Switched at Birth, Make It or Break It, Secret Life of the American Teenager or The Lying Game. Yes, I watch all these), or MTV’s new show Awkward (which is surprisingly well written and not just a guilty pleasure). Then there’s the two most crack-like shows on television that I love to watch every time they’re on MuchMusic: Pretty Little Liars and Degrassi.
I’ve been watching Degrassi every day after school since the ‘80s version appeared on Showcase. At precisely 3:30 p.m., I would watch characters like Wheels, Snake and Joey struggle with the perils of adolescence. When Snake found Caitlin’s ex-boyfriend Claude’s corpse in the bathroom stall after he blew his brains out, I was there. I cried with them, laughed with them, I even wore fedoras à la Joey Jeremiah. My obsession doesn’t stop there. Not only have I seen every single episode from the old Degrassi to the Next Generation (yes, all the way up to Season 11), but I’ve watched all of the Degrassi made-for-TV movies (School’s Out, Degrassi Spring Break, Degrassi Goes Hollywood, Degrassi Takes Manhattan). I am a Degrassi superfan, no doubt. Even when I see Drake on TV, all I can see is his wheelchair-confined character Jimmy.
But now, Degrassi has fallen into the trap of my least favorite yet most sexually arousing teen show plotline: the student/teacher relationship. My problem with this trend in teen television? It’s incredibly fucked up. What I like about this plotline, however: it is incredibly hot. These mixed emotions make me feel like Chris Hansen will show up on my doorstep at any second to uncover my stash of lube, condoms and Bacardi Breezers.
This particular plot device also fulfills my teenage fantasies about the teacher that stole my heart in high school with his dark wavy hair: Mr. Semeniuk. The creepy thing was that he wasn’t even my teacher; I just saw him one day passing in the hall. My obsession grew, as it did with two of my friends, Dil and Kelsey. We would eat outside during lunch breaks and stare into his portable so we could lust after him—which is the actual extent that teenagers go with their teacher crushes. This lusting from afar is more common. These shows where the teens actually nail the teacher seems highly unlikely—not to mention illegal. And yet, watching it unfold does something special to my lady parts.
I realize that TV is a fantasy world and things have to be a bit over-the-top and unrealistic for it to be interesting. But no matter how compelling they may be, I think these TV relationships send teens the wrong message. It’s essentially glorifying statutory rape and no one has pointed out how fucked up that is. I’ve seen enough shows to know that this plotline is fairly common. I’ve seen it most recently in Pretty Little Liars, Life Unexpected, and now, my poor, treasured Degrassi.
Pretty Little Liars disturbs me the most out of all the student/teacher plot lines—mostly because I’m really siding for this statutory rape clusterfuck. This show follows this basic premise: “We met before I knew she was my jailbait student, man!”
Here’s how the Pretty Little Liars student/teacher plot first started (with a bit of tweaking from me):
Enter Aria, a pretty petite girl with dark hair, killer eyebrows and great fashion sense. (Good work stylists!) She is reading a book at the bar when Ezra, a sexy, brooding Clark Kent figure approaches her.
Ezra: You’re hot and you can read.
Aria: Well, I’m thinking about becoming an English major.
Ezra: This must mean you’re in college! Let’s make out in the bathroom.
[Making out ensues in the bathroom.]
The next day, as Aria is sitting in her English class, she finds out her new English teacher is, who else, Ezra! Ezra yells “Oh, crap.” (No one else in the class thinks this is weird). They both talk about it and decide it would be best for them not to be together. But then circumstances bring them together, and they can’t be without each other.
This leads to the other screwed up premise: “Well, she looks and acts mature, so this must make it okay.” Eventually, Ezra teaches at the town college and isn’t her teacher anymore, which has a way of justifying the relationship for them and the viewer.
Listen guys: This is still not okay. Even if the actress is over 18, the character is not.
I will say that the show does highlight how fucked up it is through the mother character and her disapproval of student/teacher relationships, but the internal emotional reaction and outcome that people want is for things to work out for these two lovebirds (at least it is for me. Again, I must be a pervert.) Because of this, any criticism of them essentially fails.
So if there are any teens reading this, please do not try to date or sleep with your teacher crush. It’s going to end in humiliation and disaster, and won’t result in the sexy scenario that makes my vagina tingle while watching absurd amounts of teen television on MuchMusic.