6. Gossip Girl: Dan and Serena
Like Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl was a show based on the idea that the leads are constantly being watched, stalked, and gossiped about, and in this show it was through the gossip blog Gossip Girl. The finale revealed that the Gossip Girl was “Lonely Boy” Dan Humphrey, the outsider from Brooklyn. The Upper East Siders take a moment to review this shocking news, as Gossip Girl had, at some points, ruined their lives in various ways — ever wise Blair Waldorf counsels hating Dan forever — and then Lonely Boy and untouchable Upper East Side goddess Serena van der Woodsen get married. Because all along, Gossip Girl “was a love letter to us.” Ew!
5. Terrible Twilight knockoffs
They are too numerous to count, the many, many books that have taken Bella and Edward’s stalking disguised as destiny as the basis for true love forever plots. But let’s look at YA novel Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, a book with problems too numerous to count, that inspired a sharp post on “Bad Romance (YA and Rape Culture)” from Livejournal user Bookshop, aka Aja Romano, a writer for The Daily Dot. The whole post is worth a read, but here’s a taste:
Hush, Hush is extremely self-aware; it knows that its hero is stalking and sexually harassing its heroine. Its heroine complains of harassment loudly and repeatedly, but the text expects us to assume that her repeated no means “yes” — the text wants us not to take no for an answer. The author, Becca Fitzpatrick, as well as the society that produced Becca Fitzpatrick, both want the heroine of this book to have her “no” rejected over and over, until her resistance is worn down and she gives up and gives in and starts to love the thing that’s attacking her and trying to kill her. The social arc of Nora’s womanhood demands that she shut up and submit to her sexual subjugation. For god’s sakes, the freaking title of the book is BE QUIET.
4. Twilight: Edward and Bella
What’s hotter than a guy coming into your bedroom at night and watching you sleep just so he can “watch over you”? Is it when the guy gets weird and possessive and tells you that you’re the one, “you’re like my heroin?” Edward, the vampire hero of this novel, is supposed to be the most romantic and swoony guy of all time, but really he’s possessive, creepy, and stalker-y. He dictates who she can and can’t be friends with. He has his family follow her. At times, Bella says that she’s scared of him. Romance!
3. Gossip Girl: Blair and Chuck
Chuck was introduced in the pilot as a character who attempts to rape not one, but two characters, and from there, he grew into a hero of sorts, at least regarding his romance with the show’s most likable character, Blair. Their relationship was described as volatile by the creators, but in truth it was emotionally abusive and abusive abusive, with Chuck hurting Blair after she says she’s marrying someone else. And let’s not forget, in the biggest ew, Chuck manipulates Blair into sleeping with his uncle so that he could get a hotel. But their first makeout was a hot assignation in the back of a limo, so it’s all good, right?
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy and Spike
When Buffy fell in love with tortured vampire Angel, eventually losing her virginity to this romantic hero, it was fine. Angel turned super-evil and it was an awesome metaphor for the ways that some dudes really can love ’em and leave ’em. But Angel left for his own spin-off and Buffy was left boyfriendless (for those of us who want to pretend Riley never existed, anyway) until she fell into a tortured relationship with bad-boy vampire Spike, the big bad of Season 2 and a sneering Sid Vicious-like punk. Their relationship was problematic, to say the least. It started as meaningless sex when a depressed Buffy came back from the dead, and Spike was abusive and controlling, trying to rape Buffy in the episode “Seeing Red,” failing, calling her a bitch, and then leaving Sunnydale in order to “protect” her.
1. Pretty Little Liars: Ezra and Aria, or “Ezria”
When you are a 16-year-old girl who meets a guy at a bar, makes out with him in the bathroom, and then finds out that he’s your new high school English teacher… well, obviously, it’s true love. “Ezria,” the combination of high school teacher Ezra Fitz and pretty, short liar Aria Montgomery (“the artsy one”) has been called a true love story, “part of the DNA of the show” by creator Marlene King, even though it started out an illegal student/teacher thing, progressed into the idea that Ezra could be “A,” a possible murderer, on top of possibly being the mysterious character that’s been stalking and harassing the liars for years. Although just how evil Ezra will end up being isn’t clear yet, the show recently forced audiences to see this relationship for what it is: deeply unhealthy, and unquestionably harmful to Aria.