“Pretty Little Liars” is a show with a mystery at its core, and as a TV viewer we also have a bit of a mystery — why do we love this show as much as we do? The characters aren’t always likable, and at times the story even moves along at a snail’s pace — of course, there’s also the issue that we are not even remotely close to ABC Family’s target demographic.
The reason this show really ends up working in spite of its flaws is not necessarily a single thing, but a number of components that have been built up over the course of the series.
The “A” story – Usually, teen dramas do not present the sense of peril that is on this show — we have a defined mission by some of the girls to stop “A” from ruining their lives, and there are clues constantly coming to the surface. Whenever a new potential suspect is raised (see Melissa following Monday night’s show), however, they quickly end up falling by the wayside.
We are going to find out about “A’s” identity by the end of the this season, and even with this in mind there is also the issue of how our four female leads will manage to try to stop him and her from causing any more trouble. So often, these shows either have a villain who is only occasionally evil, or no real villain at all.
Taboo – While “Glee” tried to use a student / teacher romance with Puck and Shelby this past fall, “PLL” is still the owner of the most-popular story of this kind courtesy of Aria and Ezra. It’s a “Romeo & Juliet”-esque romance thrown into a mystery show, with of course the exception here being that we hope it ends better than in the Shakespeare play.
If there were not so many GLBT characters on TV already (and if Maya was actually a little bit likable), Emily’s love life would be a bit more fascinating. Even though Hanna and Spencer have had relationships that are a bit more traditional to this sort of television, there are still enough differences to make them stand out from the mold.
Flawed parents – The final reason this show really works is that, unlike other shows with teens in lead roles, the parents actually do have some sort of intelligence. They are not just there to present some sort of moral, but to play an integral in the development of the story. They are also incredibly flawed, as we have heard courtesy of Spencer’s father having a secret child and Hanna’s parents being apart. Even though Aria’s mom and dad are together, there is enough conflict here to prove that they are definitely not always on the same page.
Why do you think this show works so well?
Photo: ABC Family