Image Credit: Insider
By Isobel Neill
Last month I spent many hours (six, to be precise, though any more than one is concerning) watching YouTuber ‘Mike’s Mic’ rehash the events of Pretty Little Liars, a show I watched over five years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Pretty Little Liars centres around five teenage girls whose friendship falls apart once the leader of the group, Alison DiLaurentis, goes missing. The girls are brought back together one year later after Alison’s body is found, and they begin receiving texts from an anonymous ‘A’, who threatens to uncover secrets known only to Alison. Mike describes his recap series as ‘appropriately unhinged’, and he’s well within his rights to do so.
As an early teen, Pretty Little Liars had my friends and I hooked – each week we would crowd around a grease-covered iPod, replaying episode trailers and tossing around our best ‘A’ theories. In hindsight, I’m convinced the best way to figure out (and, according to the show’s writers, create) the plot of Pretty Little Liars was to take shots in the dark, consider no logic or plot coherency whatsoever (really, how they accidentally made CeCe and Jason exes and siblings is beyond me). From cars crashing through front windows to ‘A’ replicating the girls’ bedrooms in an underground bunker, the more absurd the story line, the better. Another evil identical twin reveal? Of course!
As Mike recapped the series, there were plenty of cringe-worthy moments, but none were greater than those involving Ezra Fitz. The show had an adult man actively seek out Aria Montgomery, a 15-year-old, and pursue a relationship in order to gain information about her missing friend, Alison DiLaurentis (who he also dated, when she was 14). Infamously, Ezra is also Aria’s teacher, and we’re made to believe that they are star-crossed lovers, fated to be together, but forced apart by a society that does not approve of them. I remember being fully on board with this, and hating Aria’s parents for disapproving of their relationship. Pretty Little Liars’ audience was largely made up of impressionable young women, and it normalised this relationship to the point where it was admirable. As Mike comments, “feel free to count on your fingers how many felons we come across […] and you will run out of fingers” – Ezra should have been in jail, but instead he ends the show at the altar, marrying the girl he groomed while she was in high school.
“It’s ridiculous, at times it’s problematic, but overall it’s a great TV show”, Mike summarises in his introduction. I do hate to admit it, but he’s right. Revisiting the series brought back memories from a time when all I had to worry about was whether a character was really dead and who was being framed for their murder. Even in recap form, its storyline is thoroughly entertaining, and in the age of Euphoria, I wonder if any teen drama will ever match up to this one. My hunch is that they will not.
Categories: Film & TV