March 29th, 2011, 03:10 PM
ABC Family is not necessarily the place for us childless adults to look for quality programming. Sure, they’ve had some hits like Greek and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and whatever that show about gymnasts is (Make It Or Break It? Thanks, Google!). But it also featured duds like Beautiful People (yes, I watched it), Wildfire (there were horses?), and Huge (which probably suffered most from poor publicity). This is a channel geared towards tots, tweens, and teens, yet presents satisfying programming for adults. Crazy, right?
Enter Pretty Little Liars, based on a series of books by the same name. I started watching last summer and called it ‘eye-rollingly ridiculous,’ and I stand by that statement. Part Veronica Mars, part Gossip Girl, it’s completely bananas, compellingly overwrought, and has twists and turns worthy of a Hitchcock film. The characters, the realness of the characters (if not always the situations), put Glee to shame. Straight up, hands down, shame. The plot continuity is spot-on, with tiny details from one episode becoming enormously important later down the road. Season one’s finale ran last Monday, season two begins June 14th (a Tuesday). Since you’re all going to watch it going forward (right?), I’ll catch you up on the basics:
Alison DiLaurentis (no relation to Giada!) went missing under suspicious circumstances a year ago, during a slumber party the five girl clique was having. Her friends, sweet Emily Fields (the token minority and token lesbian), emo Aria Montgomery, kind (and formerly fat) Hanna Marin, and genius/neurotic/highstrung Spencer Hastings, find their friendship crumbles after Alison’s disappearance, and they go separate ways for the year. The story begins from that point–the four are reunited and bond over Alison’s continuing absence. Though Alison was the HBIC, if you will, the girls find their friendship can continue without her. They are tormented by ‘A’, who knows secrets about each girl and her family: embarrassing, life-destroying, crazy-ass, secrets!
Throughout the season, the girls try to figure out who ‘A’ is, and how to stop them. Is it Toby Cavanaugh, the former bad boy? His half-sister, Jenna, who was blinded in a mysterious accident (referenced as “The Jenna Thing”)? Perhaps Spencer’s former hook-up, and new brother-in-law, Ian Thomas, or her stank sister Melissa (who, incidentally, was on Beautiful People!)? There are oodles of options, and I’m not going to spoil any of them. The season really picked up in the second half, driven by new and intriguing characters, an expanding mystery, and enhanced danger. This is what television is about–realistic characters in realistic yet hyperbolic situations, needing to examine small details in order to make sense of the whole!
Beat that, Glee. Pwned.