In recent years, most audiences can agree that teen dramas are not what they once were. Gone are the innocent (if not naïve) teenagers, who were actually played by teenagers, and that happily-ever-after mentality. The new ABC Family hit series “Pretty Little Liars” is a perfect example of how the perception of adolescent life is changing.
The show is centered on four teenage girls, Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Spencer (Troian Avery Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and their friend Alison (Sasha Pieterse), who mysteriously disappears from their small, but rich suburban town one night. One year after her disappearance, her body is found under the gazebo of her house, and as the town happens to be in the middle of a murder investigation, the girls find themselves being stalked by a mysterious, ubiquitous “A”, a person who somehow knows things that only Alison knew.
Based on the book series by Sara Shepard, “Pretty Little Liars” is a guilty pleasure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each girl has a secret, but it’s nothing compared to the secret that they share, which proves that Alison wasn’t as innocent as her cherubic face and baby doll curls suggested. However, this secret also may or may not be the key to solving the mystery of Alison’s murder.
Before Alison died, she set a barn on fire and caused a neighborhood girl, Jenna (Tammin Sursok) to go blind. Only five people knew the truth about what happened: Aria, Emily, Spencer, Hanna and Jenna’s stepbrother, Toby (Keegan Allen), whom Alison blackmailed into taking the blame. Now, because of her actions and her untimely death, her friends are left behind to deal with the trouble she’s unleashed on their small suburban town.
Everyone is a suspect in the murder mystery and each episode is more suspenseful than the last, proving that everyone loves a good happy ending, but nothing helps ratings like a good nail-biting cliffhanger. It seems that the mysterious “A” is everywhere, watching their every move and taunting them through text messages, with the knowledge that he or she can expose them at any time and turn their whole worlds upside down.
The knowledge that someone, who could in fact be anyone they interact with on a daily basis, has the power to unhinge them with the slightest push of a button is rather unnerving. However, it opens their eyes to something they had never realized in all the years that they were friends: Alison knew all of their secrets, but they never knew any of hers.
Alison was the queen bee of their high school and the town’s it-girl. And even in death, it seems like she’s still someone to be feared and revered, especially with the omnipresent “A” running amok, threatening to ruin lives.
Overall, “Pretty Little Liars” seems like the perfect summer show for tweens who love a good mystery and can’t get enough of juicy gossip. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” (Is the quotation at the end appropriate?)