Lucy Hale and Ian Harding
The girls of Pretty Little Liars have suffered loss, heartbreak and betrayal throughout the three seasons of the ABC Family show, but one thing that has remained constant is the love between Aria (Lucy Hale) and Ezra (Ian Harding). While some may say the student-teacher relationship is inappropriate, others believe the pairing is the core relationship of the show. Check out the arguments for and against "Team Ezria" from editors Sadie Gennis and Robyn Ross below.
Sadie Says: It's creepy (and illegal) I can handle the seven-year age difference — especially because Aria was 16 when she met Ezra, the legal age of consent in Pennsylvania — but I will never be able to completely accept the student-teacher dynamic. Yeah, it's hot. I won't pretend otherwise. But it's also illegal! Because Ezra was in a position of power when they got together, if his relationship with Aria were reported — even now — he'd be slapped with a felony! Does sweet ol' Ezra really deserve being labeled a sex offender for life? Plus, what kind of 23-year-old has nothing better to do than woo a teenager? It's weird. Get a life, bro!
Robyn Says: Aria is extremely mature for her age How many high school students do you know who actually read their assigned books, let alone enjoy poetry and Pulitzer Prize-winning literature? Aria needs someone who can stimulate her mentally and share her passions, which happen to include art and books, not football and beer. Besides, the two met at a bar, which would suggest to Ezra that Aria was at least 21, so it's not entirely his fault he developed feelings before realizing she was in high school. Not to mention, Ezra doesn't look like a creepy old man next to Aria; the two are a pretty even match.
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Sadie Says: It's bad encouragement I don't think anyone is going to sleep with their teacher because they love Ezria, but the series definitely glamorizes student-teacher affairs. Aria and Ezra might be MFEO, but most relationships of that nature don't end up happily ever after. By romanticizing their relationship, PLL encourages students to try and turn their hot for teacher fantasies into reality. Yes, I know, it's just a show, and an over-the-top one at that. But even amidst all the chaos, Aria and Ezra's relationship has always remained grounded. As one of the show's most relatable and realistic aspects, Aria and Ezra's relationship doesn't exactly send the best message to PLL's young viewers.
Robyn Says: All television is bad encouragement! Teacher/student relationships are a constant theme entertainment, so even if PLL didn't show it, other shows that teens watch would and have for years. (Dawson's Creek and Gossip Girl for example.) And if viewers had to take one message to heart from this show, let it be about love and not psycho stalkers, killers and crazy classmates. Plus: Whereas most teen boys are sex-crazed, Aria and Ezra prove that young relationships can be deeper than just the physical.
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Sadie Says: 18-year-old girls (should) just wanna have fun! Aria has a lot on her plate right now: preparing for college, family drama, surviving high school (literally!). At only 18, Aria needs to focus on herself — not her boyfriend and his newly discovered 7-year-old son. I mean, Aria's mature, but not that mature. And nor should she be! When she's not chasing down A, Aria's life should be happy and carefree, not playing stepmom or a supporting role in Ezra's new family life. Plus, when will she ever find the time to catch up on all her favorite English lit with so many responsibilities? Just relax for a minute, Aria! Not everything good in life has to be so much stress.
Robyn Says: Who's to judge what someone's idea of fun is? With her parents' split and a crazy psycho on the loose, Ezra is the only stable thing in Aria's life. Yes, Ezra now has a son, but he also made it very clear that he wants her to remain in his life as well. If she's willing to accept that their relationship might change a little, then that's her decision to make. If she doesn't want to go to parties and instead would rather stay in and read books to Ezra's son, then that's what she should do.
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Sadie Says: It's hard to root for a couple that lies to each other Aria lies about A. Ezra lies about his family. Aria lies about Ezra's brother and son. Ezra's made a habit of going AWOL. Does that sound healthy to you? Then again, what can you expect of a relationship founded on fibs? None of this ever would have happened had Aria just been honest with Ezra when they first met. And while all the deception makes for great drama, I'm getting a little tired of this particular rollercoaster. Can't they just be honest with each other? Even I would probably jump aboard the Ezria train then (or at least flirt with the option).
Robyn Says: This is a show about lying — it's even in the title! I don't condone relationships founded on lies, but you have to give a little legroom when it's in a show based around deceit. Ultimately, what Aria and Ezra mainly stay silent about is their way of protecting the other. If Aria involves Ezra in A's game, he's put at risk of getting shot, killed, hit by a car, etc. Ezra's mom sucks, and he'd like to shield Aria from her awfulness. Aria was selfless by putting her fears aside and honoring Maggie's wish to not spill about their son. So if the ends justify the means, so be it.
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Sadie Says: Their relationship isn't worth the collateral damage Ezra's already had to lose two separate jobs thanks to his relationship with Aria, ultimately sacrificing his own dreams to be with her. Being with him has also caused serious issues between Aria and her parents, not to mention provide tons of ammunition for A to use against her. They've been trying to make the relationship work for a long time, but maybe they need to recognize the possibility they aren't meant to be. Just because you love someone, doesn't mean you're good for each other. It's about time Aria and Ezra consider that idea.
Robyn Says: If this kind of love can't survive hurdles, then what can? Sometimes you need to make big sacrifices and these two are learning very early on that in certain cases it's worth it. Ezra has plenty of time to progress in his career, many guys his age can't even get a job yet! And anyone in Aria's life could be a target for A. If not Ezra, then her parents or brother could be at risk. There's always going to be someone vulnerable. Finally, the two have continually professed their love for each other and have made decisions to stay together despite everything that's been up against them so they at least owe it to themselves to see how far that love can take them.
Whose side are you on? Tell us below!
Pretty Little Liars airs on Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC Family.
Watch a clip from the next episode below: