(Content Note: Disability, Consent)
Dear Programing Executives At ABC Family:
For some reason, you remain convinced that storyarcs where a teenage girl develops a crush on an adult authority figure, and said authority figure reciprocates their affection, has enough value to keep bringing them up in your shows.
You are wrong.
These stories are not interesting or sexy. They do not make me feel sympathy for any of the characters involved. What they actually do is turn a show that was about people who tried and managed to be mostly good despite their flaws–I’m talking about Switched at Birth here–and turns it into something tawdry. And I do not need any more tawdriness in my TV, thank you very much–that’s what Revenge and reruns of Melrose Place are for, and Switched at Birth will never be as good at it as those shows are.
Daphne and Jeff are two interesting characters with lots to say about the human condition. The episode that introduced the latter had some interesting scenes dealing with the privilege held by his staff as able-bodied people, and about what compromises he as the Chef could and should make in order to accommodate Daphne (who, for non-watchers, is Deaf) into his kitchen. And Daphne has always been a compelling character.
Having them begin a romance doesn’t tell me much about any of the interesting parts of either character, and it sure as fuck doesn’t make them more likeable.
Instead, I’m left wondering just what Daphne thinks she has in common with her boss. And how Jeff sleeps at night, knowing that the farther he takes this, the more likely he is to end up in jail (already his employees know about their relationship; I’m not sure if they know Daphne’s age). And it makes me wonder just why is it that any of the adults who have an inkling of what is going on aren’t freaking out about it. At least in Scott Pilgrim, everybody acknowledged that Scott was being an ass for dating Knives.
Yes, teenagers sometimes crush on older people. Sometimes, those older people are even authority figures. This is fine. In rare cases, those teenagers with crushes on their bosses may even attempt to begin something. This is less fine, but forgivable–not knowing better doesn’t make them bad people. However, what is neither fine nor forgivable is when the older person reciprocates. They can’t afford not to know better, and those who fail to do the right thing and say “no” are not good people, in my book. So stop trying to pretend they are, ABC Family.