So… there’s Pretty Little Liars.
There was really no way that I was not going to be watching this show, I knew that from the moment I was repeatedly treated to the promo during The Twenty before every single movie I saw at Regal Cinemas in the month of June. It just looked so deliciously ridiculous. To be honest I’m surprised I never read the books. Full disclosure here; I’m a fan of Teen Fiction. Or rather, I was. I’ve been decent lately and managed to not delve into the shallows of light-weight, far-too-young-for-me reading. No trashy soap opera-ish tales of unrealistic high schoolers with the problems of adults. Part of this, I’m sure, has to do with the fact that I never grew up and even though a reunion tells me it’s been ten years it doesn’t seem so long from high school. And I never really grew out of the problems that plagued me then. I like reading, and watching, about the dealings of high schoolers because I’m still emotionally stuck there. Plus, one book of Teen Fiction takes a couple of hours to read, and requires little to no effort. And when you have a job that requires a lot of hanging around (the previous job, not the current one) you get through a lot of Teen Fiction books. And that in turn makes you feel pretty accomplished, even if it is a stupid accomplishment. I got through whole series. Gossip Girl, spin-off The It Girl, The Au Pairs, The A List, but no Pretty Little Liars. Pity, I might have liked the intrigue. But, at the same time; I’m about as glad I didn’t read the books as I am that I didn’t read the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Right now, I don’t want to know.
But, I’m hip deep into this show and don’t quite know how I’ll manage to wait until January for new episodes. Every Tuesday I wade through it about as intrigued as one can be over a mixture of Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives… except maybe more so. So it’s on ABC Family, it doesn’t belong there. It’s CW all the way.
There are four friends; Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna. A year before the bulk of the show takes place they are all hanging out, drinking, and fall asleep. The fifth girl, the Queen Bee, leader of the group and secret collector, Alison, disappears without a trace. We fly forward a year.
Aria returns from Iceland, where her family lived for a year while her father was on sabatical. They don’t really explain this much, but what is explained is that her father, played by Hilary Swank’s crying ex-husband, had an affair with the lead from Center Stage, and Aria caught them in the act. She didn’t tell her mother, so she’s a little wonky about returning home since she lost touch with her friends and has been harboring this secret about her dad for a year. So she goes to the only restaurant in Rosewood, Pennsylvania to get a cheeseburger. Enter Ezra Fitz. He’s young, he’s cute, he’s got that well dressed up still rumply thing going on, and he likes all the same things that Aria likes. So, naturally, moments after meeting and sharing pleasantries that include Aria alluding to the fact that she’s in college, they make out in the bathroom. It’s not till the next day that they discover that he’s the new English teacher an she is, in fact, in high school. Now, this is a time honored storyline, that somehow never quite gets old. Oh it’s clichéd, and typical and all that stuff that often goes with time honored tradition, but even if we scoff at the plot line, we’re still secretly thrilled. I suppose it’s that forbidden fruit, hot for teacher thing; but even if you roll your eyes at the possibility you’re still a little on board. Still, you know it’s wrong and it never seems like a real relationship. Yeah, not the case here. I’m totally on board. In fact, when Mr. Fitz realizes he needs to do the right thing and bow out so that Aria can have a normal life (the thought of losing his job really isn’t his first concern) I didn’t feel that it was good. Actually, I was a little devasted cause Aria and Mr. Fitz are a ridiculously cute couple, despite their issues. It really makes me wonder about myself.
Spencer’s a workaholic, academically, sports-wise, and all that stuff. She’s that sort who always has to be the best at everything and freaks otu when she gets an A -. She also apparently has a problem with making out with her sister’s boyfriends. Once I get, the dude with the British accent was adorable and clearly deserved way better than uptight Melissa, who’s clearly a one-sided, selfish bitch, and has that same “needing to be the best” issue. They might’ve been a halfway cute couple, but apparently it’s happened before. Seriously, I’ve never been in the situation, but I can’t imagine allowing any sort of “accidental” kiss with my sister’s boyfriend. But then again, she’s definitely confused romantically, although, the socio-economically mixed relationship she’s currently in is sort of adorable.
Hanna used to be fat. That’s pretty much what we’ve got on her past. She was fat, a fact illustrated by the knockout of an actress wearing baggy, dowdy clothes. And let me be clear; she had some chubbiness going on, but hardly enough to to warrant her nickname; Hefty Hanna. Anyway, in the year since her idol, Alison of course, disappeared she’s lost the weight, become a popular babe, been subject to her parents divorce, and picked up a shoplifting habit. She’s got a boyfriend in the celibacy club, a minion of her own (Mona), and has issues with getting into trouble with the law; once for the shoplifting and the other for crashing the car of the boyfriend who refuses to take her virginity. I find her particularly compelling. She has a lot going on that makes sense; her daddy issues, her issues with having the popular boy she always wanted and realizing she’s not really all that happy with him. Plus, she’s got a new romance on the horizon, I’d say, in the form of the AV geek who helps her sell her stuff (since her mother’s struggling with the limitations of a single income household) and appreciates funny YouTube videos that make her laugh too. Now this is a romance I can get behind.
Finally, there’s Emily, whose main character trait is that she’s sexually confused. Don’t get me wrong, I like her quite a bit, but she does do quite a bit of worried and confused looks and statements about how she thinks there’s something wrong with her. What is wrong with her is this: she likes girls. Not exactly horrifying. She had a thing for Alison, which was exploited by the lady in question, and immediately has sexual tension with newcomer, Maya. Of course, she’s not okay with this so she has a boring boyfriend and flirts with bad boy, Toby. Also, freaks when pictures of her kissing Maya go missing. Okay she has strict parents, but she keeps things a little close to the vest. She only has one main storyline, but it’s a good one. Quiet Emily.
Once Aria returns from Iceland things kick into gear. Alison’s body is uncovered and the girls start receiving messages from an all knowing “A”. Who is “A” and how do they know the stuff only Alison should know? That’s the mystery surrounding this ridiculously addictive television show. Throw in a blind girl who knows more than she’s saying and a crazed policeman who… well, I’m not even completely convinced is a policeman, and you have a pot boiling with fun summer escapism.
Thank freaking god for ABC Family airing this amid summer reality shows and overcooked dramas. It may be a little lame for a twenty-eight year old to be praising a TV show geared towards tweens but I’ve never been all that shy of lame and this sort of thing is seriously up my alley so I don’t mind all that much.