When PLL revealed Ezra as A over in Ravenswood last summer, I don’t think I have ever been so shocked by a TV moment in all my life, not because the story itself was jarring, but because I knew there was absolutely no way for the show to successfully back out of that decision. This wasn’t a 17-year-old boy joining Mona’s shenanigans to try to protect his 17-year-old girlfriend. This wasn’t a Toby thing. This was a grown man stalking a group of teenage girls, all of whom had been his students, and one of whom he had an ongoing sexual relationship with. But it actually got worse than that, because it turns out he wasn’t just surveilling them. Later, he revealed that he seduced Aria on purpose, knowing that she was underage and that he was going to be her authority figure. And then he proceeded to secretly video her and her interactions with her friends for years, never intervening even though they were being emotionally and psychologically tortured—while continuing to sleep with her.
The reason I’m talking about that is because PLL has brought rape into the narrative this season from a couple of different angles. Not the shadow-y, no-name fog of sexual exploitation that’s been prevalent from the beginning. This is a much more distinct thing. This season we’ve got Lucas and Mr. DiLaurentis laying down this gut-kicking notion that Ali was probably raped if she was kidnapped, and this vomit-inducing story about Zach trying to hook-up with Hanna, and this super true-to-life situation about Hanna’s friends victim-blaming her. And if we’re putting a face on sexual assault, if we’re bringing it into focus now, we can’t continue to turn a blind eye to what Ezra did to Aria.