Are TV shows too cavalier about student-teacher hook-ups? Granted, Shelby (Idina Menzel) may be in some serious hot water on Glee after hopping in the sack with Puck (Mark Salling), but we doubt she’ll be labeled a monster as, say, Mary Kay Letourneau has been in real life. So we have to ask: Shouldn’t we be more appalled by Shelby’s behavior? Where is your outrage now, Parents Television Council?
Since Glee isn’t the only show to use such a storyline, we analyzed how tough other shows have handled a student-teacher romance, grading them on the creepiness factor and on whether the teacher was judged harshly enough. As it turns out, a lot of TV teachers get more than just an apple from their students — but do too few get more than a slap on the wrist?
1. Aria and Mr. Fitz on Pretty Little Liars
Have there been repercussions? None yet, but stay tuned as “A” is constantly threatening to spill the beans. Although, things have been a bit smoother with Ezra now teaching at the nearby college. And we can’t blame Aria, since Ezra is the one guy who can give Mr. Schuester a run for his money for the title of “Sexiest Vest-Wearing Teacher Ever.”
How creepy is it? 6 out of 10. Pretty Little Liars manages to keep the skeeviness to a minimum because the two are, like, so in love. Plus, we’re never 100% clear as to whether they’ve in fact done the deed. Of course, if we had to rate this couple on an “adorableness” scale, they would get an 11.
2. Dan and Ms. Carr; Serena and Mr. Donovan on Gossip Girl
Were there repercussions with Dan’s hookup? Holy recycled storylines, Batman! First up, in Gossip Girl Season 2, Dan’s high school teacher gets fired after Blair spreads untrue rumors that Dan and the teacher hooked up — and then the rumors becomes true when Dan and Ms. Carr indeed hook up once she’s fired. (Maybe Blair could spread a rumor that we hooked up with Ryan Gosling?)
Were there repercussions with Serena’s hookup? Season 4 reveals that back when a high school-aged Serena was at boarding school, she became close to her teacher... so close that she expressed a desire for a romantic relationship with him. Though there was obvious flirtation, he never pursued the relationship, but a spotting of the two at a bed and breakfast suggested otherwise... and landed him in jail, thanks to Serena’s mom forging her daughter’s confirmation of an affair. So were there repercussions? Were there.
How creepy were they? Dan’s: 5 out of 10 — frowned-upon for sure, but it could have been worse, since Dan was a senior and Ms. Carr was sorta on the young side. Serena’s:3 out of 10, since there was no actual hookup. (Note: The truth eventually came out later in Season 4, and Ben was released.)
3. Pacey and Ms. Jacobs on Dawson’s Creek
Were there repercussions? Big time. When a stoner overhears Dawson and Pacey discussing the relationship in the bathroom, rumors quickly spread, and Ms. Jacobs is forced to leave town. Uh, aren’t stoners supposed to be chill when it comes to ratting people out?
How creepy was it? 8 out of 10. Pacey’s friends were generally supportive, given Pacey’s luck (or lack thereof) with girls, but we still don’t get why a guy played by Joshua Jackson couldn’t get any high school girl he wanted. And let’s face it: Pacey was well under 18 at that point, and Ms. Jacobs was — to put it bluntly — pretty freakin’ old. Then again, considering all the high school students on this show had the vocabularies of hyper-intellectual 40-somethings, the creepiness factor automatically drops down a point.
4. Ross and Elizabeth on Friends
Were there repercussions? Nope! This is a rare instance of the main character being the teacher, but Ross pretty much gets away scot-free, save for having to comfort a weepy Bruce Willis (playing Elizabeth’s dad) during one episode. Apparently, Bruce Willis is very tough on terrorists who threaten to blow up skyscrapers (see: Die Hard). But on pervy paleontology professors? Not so much.
How creepy was it? 2 out of 10. This wasn’t so deplorable, since her dad knew about it; also, Ross is a little too pathetic to come off as all that creepy. But we do give Ross some credit for being the one to end the relationship (meaning this is one of the few women he didn’t propose to). Also, we apologize if the Friends theme song is firmly lodged in our heads for the next two hours. We’ll be there for you.
5. Kelly and Professor Lasky on Saved by the Bell: The College Years
Were there repercussions? Don’t pretend like you haven’t seen every episode of this show! (It’s not just us, right? Right?) Kelly quits his class to be with him, but then he dumps her, although not before they go to a costume party in which Zack Morris and Professor Lasky happen to be wearing the same costume, so Kelly mistakenly kisses Zack at one point. (Insert sounds of the studio audience squealing here.) Ah, Saved by the Bell — how we miss you.
How creepy was it? 0 out of 10. C’mon — if you tuned into Saved by the Bell for major life lessons (and not just to stare at Slater’s biceps), you have much bigger problems. Translation: Everything that Screech actor Dustin Diamond has done in his actual life has been much, much creepier.