Through the years we have seen a lot of TV series and movies that show teacher-student relationships. It has been romanticized and portrayed in different ways, but one of the most memorable on-screen student-teacher romances we all can remember is Ezra and Aria from “Pretty Little Liars” TV show. They had their happy ending, but before that Ezra, the English teacher stalked Aria and her friends.
But now things have changed and we can see that in “Gossip Girl’s” mid-season finale where one of the wealthy bisexual students Max Wolfe is struggling with all sorts of problems – status, power, social media, and, of course, relationships and previously mentioned the student-teacher relationship between him and a teacher, Rafa.
Their relationship started with good intentions where Rafa Caparros (the teacher) is concerned about Max’s (student) wellbeing, but it took a bad turn in the half-seasons finale. Max discovered that Rafa has had a lot of relationships with underaged students, that he changes every year. The teacher uses a fake story about his relationship with his parents that traumatized him for years, as a trust-building tool in order to lure students in. Max learned the truth and wanted to get out of their relationship, but Rafa starts stalking him, spread rumors about Max, and even tries to initiate an affair with Maxe’s gay father.
On the original “Gossip Girl” TV series they portrayed Serena and a boarding school teacher, and Dan with a young, beautiful English teachers relationship sympathetic. “Gossip Girl” reboot got some sense that these kinds of relationships can be dangerous, predatory, and abusive showing the power dynamic between trusted adults and vulnerable youth. This can cause years of trauma, self-blaming, and potential struggles to start healthy relationships.
Max’s and Rafa’s relationship shows a different angle to their affair because they both are males, but previously on-screen affairs between students and teachers were between a male teacher and a female student. This makes sense because females tend to be hypersexualized in our culture. Girls often feel pressure to look more mature when boys don’t feel that kind of pressure, because of the saying “boys will be boys” they don’t have to feel the need to look older or behave as an adult. The kind of pressure that makes girls dress and behave more mature makes them become vulnerable to older male “predators”.
The “Gossip Girl” reboot shows that not only young girls are hypersexualized it can happen to young males too, as Max was after he ended his affair with Rafa he accused Max of starting it by coming on to Rafa with his supposedly aggressive sexuality.
Sadly for those who have always romanticized student-teacher relationships fans of “Gossip Girl” need to understand that the show is clear where it stands on the insidious danger of the student-teacher relationship.