Pop Arts Recommends: Pretty Little Liars

YOU GUYS. I’m actually not sure how to adequately convey my love for and complete obsession with Pretty Little Liars. If you haven’t found it yet, then BOY, do you have a treat waiting. For those that have: welcome, friend! As the show has just started airing its fifth season, I thought I should spend some time talking about its amazingness.

And thus, the whole show was summed up in one gif.

The basic premise of Pretty Little Liars is this: four teenage girls are brought together again as friends, after a year of estrangement, when the body of their missing friend Alison is dug up in her garden. Alison (part seductress, part witch, part master criminal and part holy-shit-she-should-work-for-the-CIA) disappeared from a sleepover one summer night at 15 and hasn’t been seen since…until said grisly discovery. Just as Alison’s body is found and her friends prepare to move on with their lives, they all start simultaneously receiving sinister texts, emails, notes, threatening coded messages etc from ‘A’ – someone who knows all their secrets (and they have some whopping secrets, guys) and is getting ready to wreak havoc on their lives.

I mean. THAT is a premise for a teenage drama, no?

Over the next four seasons, things get progressively worse for our four leads: Emily, Hanna, Aria and Spencer. ‘A’ is apparently a master manipulator, omniscient, everywhere at once, super strong, super stealthy and oh yeah – completely BATSHIT insane.

Exactly Spencer, exactly.

The things A gets the girls to do/say/agree to/cover up and so on and so forth is mind-boggling. Logically at some point they all should have said: ‘You know what? This is terrifying and dangerous and someone is legit trying to kill us, so we should probably tell our parents’. But they NEVER DO. They just keep on, keepin’ on, enduring scarier and scarier things: murder, attempted murder, kidnappings, inappropriate relationships, creepy, angry chicks at school, lack of time to do homework, sleep etc. Although, they do always have beautiful hair and make-up and Aria seems to find the time to put together those…erm…interesting outfits of hers. So they have some spare time, I guess.

Time to meet the girls:

Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellasario)

I feel like this is an appropriately severe Spencer picture.

Tough, brilliant, brusque and witty, Spencer comes from a crazy competitive family, who all seem out to defeat each other. She is always too tough on herself, always the closest to finding the answers and usually the voice of reason. Usually.

Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale)

So many oversized earrings pictures to choose from.

Aria is tiny, colourfully dressed at all times, fierce and scrappy when required and the ‘arty’ one. This basically means that she reads novels for fun, wears out sized earrings and writes, apparently. She has a mostly normal family, though they have their own issues and a troubling relationship with her teacher. Also, she never does anything right. Like, ever.

Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell)

Emily wears this concerned expression a lot. Too often, you guys. So much peril.

Emily is the sporty, kind-hearted one. Always giving other people the benefit of the doubt and seemingly willingly putting herself in danger frequently, Emily is gentle, thoughtful and the peacemaker of our gang.

Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson)

Such beautiful, beautiful hair.

My favourite, Hanna is the youngest seeming of the girls. Always pitied and teased by Ali, she comes into her own as time goes on. It’s often assumed she doesn’t pay as much attention or isn’t as quick as the others, but she consistently shows herself to be smart, resourceful and insightful. She is blunt, funny and loves to shop. Also, she clearly has the best Mother on the show: Ashley Marin for the win.

These girls have survived so much, you guys. They have battled scenarios that would have sent me to a mental hospital or retreat a long time ago. Despite knowing someone is pretty much always watching them, they continue to meet in dark, creepy places and seem to be allergic to both locking their doors and closing their curtains. My friends and I are weirdly obsessed with the fact that they never close the curtains. Literally, they never do.

The girls have distinct personalities and strengths, making a tough foursome – a square of resilience, if you will. Things always get worse when they are separated or fall out, making true, loyal and reliable friendship the cornerstone of the show. Also, they really go above and beyond to defend Alison and track down her enemies, despite her being a total bitch most of the time. Now that’s love.

These girls are battling plot twists on top of plot twists and evading truly scary people. The police of Rosewood (the town where they live) are all corrupt, there seems to be a lot of men with preferences for teenage girls (so much EW.), masks are consistently employed, there is a mental hospital that makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest look cosy and everyone’s siblings seem to be demented, dangerous and capable of fratricide. They can’t rely on authority figures, their school – even their own parents. Everyone they meet seems to be spookily connected to Ali in some way and everyone and I mean EVERYONE has a secret agenda. For every answer we get, five more questions appear. The creators of the show have created a noir/thriller/mystery of the highest order. We feel manipulated but in a satisfying, Sherlockian sort of way. The audience is always playing catch up, trying to piece things together as we go.

Pretty Little Liars is full of frights, intrigue, witty one liners, implausible story lines that still manage to work and an impossibly beautiful cast. What more is there to want in a show? Four girls kick butt, try to protect each other and their friend, meet every challenge thrown at them and – especially as time goes on – absolutely refuse to be beaten down by their scary, unknown enemy A. All this, and they seem to be maintaining their grades at school and finding time for relationships, too.

Guys, if I haven’t managed to sell you on this mind-bendingly brilliant show, then maybe these lovely links can (beware, there be spoilers on these sites):

Vulture’s excellent PLL recaps

Forever Young Adult’s even better PLL recaps

Pretty Little Liars Annotations. Genius.

Murder Cabin

And this is amazing. I can’t stop watching it.


One thought on “Pop Arts Recommends: Pretty Little Liars

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Tuesday – Link up with the Broke and the Bookish | Pop Arts

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