Any given episode of Pretty Little Liars is filled with more crimes than a repeat of Law & Order. Yet, the most unsettling thing about season 7’s "These Boots Were Made For Stalking" is a lie about a crime. In the episode, we’re introduced to brand new character Addison (Ava Allan), Rosewood High’s newest mean girl. If Addison was just added to be a general Alison 2.0, that would be simple. But, this is PLL, so nothing could ever be that easy.
Instead, Addison is specifically added to the story to push Emily’s buttons now that the original Liar is a swim coach at Rosewood High. This leads to one very unsettling rumour.
At the top of the instalment, Addison is lurking in the locker room and overhears what should be a private conversation between Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Paige (Lindsey Shaw). Once that chat is over, Emily benches Addison for skipping practice over a "headache." The mean girl wheels in the teen’s brain immediately start turning and she figures out a diabolical plot worthy of A.
Addison snaps a photo of Emily putting her hand on Ali’s shoulder during a close chat. The new queen bee then tells Paige that Emily has been "inappropriate" with her, claiming the coach watches her while she’s naked in the shower, stares at her when she’s changing, and generally "gets too close." Addison even brings in other young teammates, saying Emily put her hand on a girl’s thigh, making everyone "so uncomfortable."
In a final blow, Addison uses the photo she took of her target and Ali (Sasha Pieterse) to prove Emily has a history of unnecessary touching.
This is already infuriating enough, since we know Emily isn’t a criminal sexual predator. One big problem in society makes Addison’s scheme all the creepier: when women accuse people of any type of assault or sexual misconduct, their motives are usually questioned. So-called men’s rights activists love to claim widespread false sexual accusations are ruining lives across the world. They think one of the alleged "many reasons" women report rape is to ruin someone’s reputation or get back at them for a perceived slight.
All of this shows why Addison’s manipulation is so unsettling to see on TV. PLL just showed its audience of over 1 million people sometimes young women do claim they’re victims of predatory behavior just to ruin someone else’s life. If the teen's false allegations of teacher sexual misconduct ended up making it to the principal, imagine how much harder it would be for the administration to believe an actual victim in the future.
As a show that lets the patriarchy act as its biggest villain, let's hope Addison's next Pretty Little Liars scheme isn't something MRAs would love.