Once upon a time, Alison DiLaurentis was a straight up biatch, but girl could work it. She was so shitty that the list of people who had sufficient motive to murder her extended to pretty much the entire population of Rosewood, PA. But Alison knew how to keep her enemies close and her frenemies (super a lot) closer. So, when she finally did die that untimely but immortalizing death, her four Besties were emotionally invested enough to spend the rest of their foreseeable futures trying to figure out what the fuck happened the night Ali mysteriously disappeared.
And that’s Pretty Little Liars. But what they don’t tell you in the previews is that this show is both 800% better and 800% worse than you think it’s going to be. I’ve seen enough of the Secret Life of the American Teenager to know the difference between “so bad it’s good” and “guilty pleasure,” and PLL definitely falls into the later category. There is so much about this show that is frustrating and implausible and cheesy, but I never seem to mind. Here’s why:
1. At its core, this is a show about friendship. Female friendship! Isn’t this what Leslie Knope has been yammering on about for the last five seasons of Parks? Ovaries before brovaries. If you enjoy it when badass females talk to each other about not-men, watch this show. It’s fun.
2. The four main characters draw you in completely and in their own special ways. There’s Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario), who’s basically Paris Gellar and Veronica Mars as one person, so–Ivy League Jesus. Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) is sassy but deeply empathetic, and she takes care of the people she loves so hard. Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is probably the strongest person on earth, but she’s also vulnerable, slow to anger, deep, yada yada. And then you have Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), who serves no purpose as far as I can tell other than asking the most obvious fucking questions, but this show is on ABC Family, so you’ve got to pick your battles.
3. Which brings me to the fact that this is the BEST SHOW TO LIVETWEET. You’ll get to cry one minute about how perfect Toby is and his perfect eyes and his perfect everything, and then the next minute, Aria will ask a genuinely insipid question and you’ll get to bitch about it to your adoring followers. Win-win-win-win-win.
4. You’ll get a kick out of signing every text “- A” for the rest of forever. Everyone else will hate you, but that’s what keeps life interesting.
5. They actually resolve plot points pretty quickly on this show. Sure, you’ll be hooked trying to figure out who ‘A’ is for a bunch of seasons, but the other stuff? They don’t mess around. You’d be amazed how many plotlines I was expecting them to drag on for 8 seasons that they tied up in two episodes. (Although, you’d also be amazed by how many plotlines you’d expect them to resolve in an episode that they drag on for 8 seasons…)
6. Adam Lambert on a party train. I’m not making this shit up.
7. Something is rotten in the state of Pennsylvania, and it’s 100% the age of consent law. Like, every man in Rosewood is a pervert. Did you go to med school? Get your teaching license? Become a literal officer of the fucking law? Go nuts! Date a 16-year-old blind girl and convince her to do crime with you! Because that happens.
8. FYI, if you were as disproportionately obsessed with Gilmore Girls during your formative years as I was, you’ll be happy/sad to find out that Rosewood is on the same lot as Stars Hollow. Happy because you can pretend that all of this weird-ass shit is happening behind Taylor Doose’s back, but sad because they moved the gazebo and totally ruined Luke’s Diner.
9. The soundtrack is loud and terrible and every episode ends on a really suspenseful note. So, no chances you’ll fall asleep marathoning this one! Watching PLL is like downing a triple shot of espresso on an empty stomach; you’ll be in pain, but you’ll also be alert.
10. And finally, we get to the moral of the story, which is “Don’t be a fucking moron, and learn to tell the truth once in a while maybe.” They will slap you in the face with this message, and you will eventually internalize it. Since watching this show, I have become a 30% more honest person, which benefits my relationships with other humans, my conscience, and society at large. And you thought nothing good ever happened in Pennsylvania.