Title: Pretty Little Liars
Cast: Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse, Ian Harding, Tyler Blackburn, Janel Parrish
Series Running Time – 2010-Present Day
Genre: Murder-Mystery, Teenage Drama, Thriller
It doesn’t take a lot for me to get sucked into a television show. Give me anything with either a good cast, great storylines or even plenty of seasons, and I’ll probably get stuck into it and become obsessed very quickly. I also use television series’ as background noise for my everyday life. For example, whilst I was writing my dissertation, I kept Parks and Recreation on and just sped through the whole lot in a few weeks.
And I’ve been aware of Pretty Little Liars for quite a while now, but I never thought it would be my thing. But after watching Gossip Girl, and searching online for similar programmes, I decided to cave in and just watch the pilot of PLL to see what it was. And oh, what a pilot. Now, as I stand, writing this in January 2016, Pretty Little Liars has just come back from its mid-season break, and premiered the second part of Season 6 which is set five years in the future. But as this second part is so vastly different from the past episodes, I thought I’d do a review on those.
So what is Pretty Little Liars all about? Well, if you focus on the tagline of the first season, ‘Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret’, I think that gives you a good overview of the entire show. Loosely based on the book series by Sara Shepard, and set in the fictional, small town of Rosewood, the series surrounds the entwining lives of four friends, Aria Montgomery (Hale), Spencer Hastings (Bellisario), Emily Fields (Mitchell) and Hannah Marin (Benson) as they struggle with the sudden disappearance of their clique leader, Alison (Pieterse). But, as the first anniversary of Alison’s disappearance passes, the girls begin to receive mysterious messages from a figure known only as ‘A’, who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets. And, at first, the girls believe it is Alison, but after her body is found, they all start to realise that a much bigger, and more dangerous game is being played with them.
The five seasons then predominantly follow the girls attempting to discover who ‘A’ is, and being led down false trails and having red herrings thrown left, right and center. There are different characters being accused of being ‘A’, but then being revealed not to be, and there are also little sideplots following other characters, but ultimately we discover that a lot centers on Alison, her friends and their secrets. Alison, as we discover throughout the series, was a lot deeper and more complex person than initially perceived, and she had secret dalliances all over Rosewood. And initally minor characters, like Melissa Hastings and Jessica DiLaurentis, equally have their own part to play in the ‘A’ storyline. The four main girls also have their own episodes and plotlines given to each of them, and issues with weight, drink and drug dependency, first loves, questions of sexuality and bullying are all explored in quite a well documented and sensitive manner.
So, is it a good series? Overall the acting is fairly good, and the girls all play off each other well. In the group, the girls are quite different and that provides interesting watching, as there is a brainy one, a creative one, a fashionable and canny one, and a sporty one, so for the audience, there will be one that individuals find to be most relatable. Each of the girls also have their own relationship with Alison, and we see how differently they took her disappearance.
For the tone of the show, there is an overwhelming sense of intensity throughout the five seasons, as the tension between the girls and ‘A’ really ramps up to dangerous levels. We also watch the girls grow, and change as a result of the bullying from their tormentor, as they begin to realise that their past actions as ‘social queen bees’ may have not been all that positive to outsiders. At some moments, the tension is almost unbearable, an
d there is some genuinely quite scary bits. The figure of ‘A’ is definitely the most intriguing, as their reasons for targeting the girls isn’t clear at first, nor is how they can do it. But as time passes, it is all revealed in a very detective mystery-esque feel.
However, there are so moments whilst watching that you do just want it to revealed. It takes 130 episodes for ‘A’ to be unmasked and their motives to be explained, and sometimes you do feel like it will never end. And that can make you feel bogged down. There are also moments when you feel like the writers are just scraping the barrel for the next possible suspects. And to me, the big ‘A’ reveal wasn’t all that great. I felt like some of the fan’s theories would have made more entertaining viewing. But, that is just my opinion.
But, all in all, the series is very addictive, and it does hook you into the ‘who is A?’ story arc so much that you do become emotionally involved in whenever a possible theory of ‘A’ is revealed. I watched the entire series as it was on the mid-season break before the latest episodes came out, so I had to be very cautious over making sure I wasn’t spoilt for who ‘A’ was, as I was that intrigued over who or how it was going to be revealed. I know I’m going to carry on watching it, and if you want a ‘Gossip Girl’/’Twin Peaks’ series, I’d recommend Pretty Little Liars.
But let me know if you’ve watched PLL, or anything similar! I’d love to hear!