Remember when Pretty Little Liars was a fun yet dark mystery series?
It’s now been five … long … years of this show (and the way each season is split between “summer” and “winter” makes it feel like it’s been longer). I remember writing a review of Season 1 after re-watching it in 2013, and let me tell you, since then, nothing in the story has changed. That’s right, five years of practically no plot progression. Where I once praised the show, those same elements have become its downfall. The degree of dark subject matter that the show initially presented made it appear like nothing would be off-limits, but unfortunately, the writers have quite literally incorporated every story concept and plot twist you can think of within the PLL universe to the point of caricature. A lot of things happen, but they have had minimal bearing whatsoever in the latest season of Pretty Little Liars.
Somehow, five years of real-world time translates into just two years Rosewood time. Two short years where the Liars go through takes deep breath various intense relationships, a plethora of deaths (some fake), group therapy, incarceration, community service, the first –A reveal, a decoy –A reveal, shootings, getting stuck in a crate next to a dead body, slow poisoning by a parent’s crazy love interest, a parent moving to Europe, another arrested for murder, a couple of divorces, admission to a psychiatric hospital, near death in a cabin fire, and that’s not even all! But these events have almost no effect on the reveals we get in the latest season since a newly introduced character and a character so minor that she’s only billed as a guest are basically responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Liars.
Now, a lot can happen in two years, sure, but the manner in which these events unfold on PLL is completely improbable. When do these girls even do their homework?! How can they focus on school when a psychotic killer continuously blackmails them? The writers take great lengths to tug the viewer’s suspension of disbelief to the point of diagnosable brain strain.
Re-watching the series shows just how much filler the show is comprised of. If it wasn’t before, then it is now plainly clear that there is no, and never was, an end game in mind for the writers, which makes all the “cleverly” hidden clues useless to the intelligent viewer (that’s all of us by the way). The writers obviously had a few –A candidates floating around in those airheads of theirs, planting just enough “evidence” for multiple characters to possibly be the anonymous villain, and then just went “eenie meenie miney mo”. What appeared to be a promising show riddled with mystery has become a series of random events with absolutely zero correlation to relevant plot points, leaving viewers unsatisfied and unable to make sound conclusions.
Showrunner I. Marlene King likes to tout that the big –A reveal during the Season 6 summer finale has been in the making for the past four years, but nothing about the character’s past involvement with the show matches with what has been previously divulged onscreen. A prime example is Toby’s mom’s death. In previous episodes we get flashbacks of a teenage Toby with his mother, but in the summer finale we see a flashback of her murder – and by the age of the other characters who are present at the scene, Toby would have only been a child when she died (Toby is younger than –A who looks about 9 years old when Mrs. Cavanaugh is killed in front of –A). Like, what?
Furthermore, those involved with the show have made it a habit to stifle fandom creativity by lying in interviews in order to sway the audience from “guessing” what is going to happen on the show. The most notable example of this happening is when Mona was revealed to be the first –A when it was explicitly stated that the show would not be following the books. For those of us who have read the books, we know that the first couple of seasons heavily rely on the first four novels of the series. This is a disservice to the fan base that has allowed the show to be produced for as long as it has. The irony of those working for the show lying about what may and may not happen is not lost on me. Despite this, there are several compelling fan theories floating around that disregard what the creators say (as they should) that make more sense than what has been revealed this season. The fan theories are really the only thing that make this show worthwhile and interesting.
To add insult to injury, Marlene had to answer questions that were left unanswered in an interview AFTER the finale. To have a finale that is primarily exposition and not answer basic questions that have been lingering since the first season is simply lazy and unacceptable storytelling. Season 6 was promoted as a “summer of answers” on top of that. Do people seriously get paid to create this rubbish?
I’m not even going to get into the questionable transgender portrayal or how the plot line comes straight from NBC’s soap opera Passions. We all deserve better.
While this first half of Season 6 has been aesthetically interesting at the very least, I’m curious to see how the time jump in the second half will go. What new methods will the writers jerk us around this time? Pretty Little Liars showed so much potential in the beginning and now would be the opportune time to live up to it. Unfortunately with the show’s track record, I won’t be holding my breath.