The Show Pretty Little Liars is like that one friend that drives you a little crazy. You remain friends with them for various reasons. Maybe they like to do the same stuff you like, or they have qualities that attract you to them. But ultimately, there are times you questions why you are still friends with them.
Now, I have not read the books, but I know there are some major differences. It’s certainly made an impact, and the characters are diverse and interesting, and the premise has a hook. A premise that hooks you in is very important, and that’s one of the reasons the show did so well…at first.
I will not always defend this show, but I certainly enjoyed it. The first five seasons told a story, and I think it was a good one. So to take a look at the storytelling, let’s talk about a few aspects that set this particular subject apart. The fact that it’s a television show, and not a movie, means you need to keep people engaged. Like I mentioned earlier, the beginning episode certainly does that. The beginning episode centers around five friends, Spencer, Hannah, Aria, Emily, and Alison. Alison goes missing on one fateful night. One year later, the girls don’t hang out as much as they used to, and sadly Alison’s body is discovered. After her funeral, the four girls receive a mysterious text message from someone who simply signs her name as “A.” Throughout the first few seasons, viewers hope to discover not only what happened to Alison, but who the identity of “A” really is.
Plot-wise, this is intriguing, and following four characters with different lives, but all connected and brought back together through the messages from “A,” makes for a very entertaining show. The mysteries, drama, and at times comedy was done very well. Each main character is unique, and they all have chemistry that keeps the show going. While those are the main highlights, the story was not without its flaws.
Now, I did say the first few seasons earlier. Sadly, I think the show should have been only three seasons. Like many typical American shows, it goes on and on, with episodes that lead nowhere, and several conversations that, I kid you not, repeat, even within the same episode. In order to fill in time and keep the season over twenty episodes, there were a lot of wild goose chases, dead-ends, and recycled scenarios. Having a couple red-herrings here and there in a mystery is okay, but make sure you’re not treating the audience like they’re dumb. You could guess what was going to happen a number of times, and the jump scares never worked. Sure, there were some creepy moments, because a lot of plot reveals take place in an old asylum, which is a perfect setting for a mystery. But even that became overused in later seasons, at least in my opinion.
To me, I think the show was weighed down a lot. Instead of over twenty episodes, and repeat conversations, it could have been maybe three seasons of twelve episodes, or fifteen. Since it is easy to care about these characters, we don’t need too much thrown at us. Take your time, and don’t forget that silence can be powerful. This show’s dialogue sometimes didn’t know when to stop. It’s hard to summarize the story because of how long and how much happens in each season. It’s sort of like the saying, “too much of a good thing.” It became, “too much plot.” Now, TV shows do have more freedom to cram, since they have a lot more time than a movie. But I felt like they crammed to the max. Between the drama of the girls and their personal lives, and “A,” who does dive into their personal lives and try to control them, and the mystery of Alison, I think the show may have bit off more than it can chew.
Back to the dialogue for a moment. I mentioned “repeat” conversations. My main point is this: When you have a storyline, that is, one on the side, and it comes to a conclusion…DO NOT UNDO that conclusion. Emily ended up with Paige, and then it went back and forth, back and forth. Aria and Ezra talked about their relationship over and over again (and I am not a fan of their relationship at all). To all writers, stories need a beginning, middle, and an end, even a side story that isn’t the main focus. When something goes back and forth that many times, viewers lose interest. Talking about how someone feels doesn’t mean we believe that’s how they feel. Show us. Talking about what the character is going to do, doesn’t mean they will do it. Show them doing that thing. This show had a LOT of talk, and it’s a good thing the main premise was engaging enough, because a lot of people would have checked out a lot sooner. At least, this is how I feel about it.
After season three, I think I began to check out. So much so, that when it came time to reveal who “A” was, I was sort of okay with it…when I should have been on the edge of my seat, and shocked. Now sometimes suspense is more fun than the reveal…in fact, maybe it almost always is. Still, taking six season to do this, was a mistake. There’s a lot to be said about filling up a shorter amount of time with something rich, fulfilling and of quality, rather than having a lot of episodes with a lot of drama, and lot of conversations.
If you have to binge something, and you’re into drama and maybe into making fun of things (like I am), give this show a try. Aside from the main characters, the other characters weren’t bad. I liked most of the friends and family members more than the significant others, except for Hanna’s boyfriend. One of the antagonists, well sort of, who is blind, was one of my favorite characters in the whole show. She was one of the most intriguing, and is one of the only good things about the final season. In fact, take it from me, if you enjoy this show…you should probably skip the last season altogether.
But that’s my take. Telling a story about four people is hard, but they managed to keep the characters consistent, and likable throughout the whole series. And, people still talk about the show…that’s an accomplishment all on its own. Or, if you are more traditional, check out the book series. Any series that has a mystery as good as this is sure not to disappoint.