“Pretty Little Liars” is likely a title you’ve heard of before, whether it’s referring to the TV show which took the world by storm or the book series it’s based on that’s written by Sara Shepherd. From its first episode in 2010 to the last one in 2017, the show built one of the strongest and fiercest TV show fan bases in history.
The main plot of this show revolves around a group of five friends: Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin and Alison DiLaurentis. Alison, the leader and glue of the group, has disappeared and is later found dead at the beginning of the other girls’ sophomore year in high school. The discovery of Alison’s body is one of the things which brings the other girls back together, but the anonymous threats from “A” that begin to control them for the next few years are really what drives the group to start talking again.
The show’s developer I. Marlene King threw the girls and fans on a whirlwind that has lasted seven long and tiring years. Throughout the seasons, it’s admittedly easy to get bored of the lack of answers the girls receive. It seems with each episode there are new mysteries or threats that “A” is holding over them. Coupled with a superb cast and writing team, this is exactly what makes this show so annoyingly bingeable.
Previous Season(s) Recap
Warning: this section contains possible spoiler alerts.
As the first season of the show begins to unravel, we learn Alison wasn’t exactly loved by all the residents of Rosewood. In fact, she was often playing games, causing trouble for the other girls. In the first season we learn not only more about Alison and her relationship with the other girls but with other residents in Rosewood as well, like Spencer’s older sister Melissa Hastings, her fiancé Ian Thomas, a blind girl named Jenna and her mysterious brother Toby Cavanaugh. We follow along with the girls as they try to navigate A’s threats and figure out what exactly happened to their best friend, all while trying to keep up their grades and handle their own lives.
In season two, the threats and danger heighten despite the expectation that it would all stop with Ian’s death. However, as a new set of side characters are introduced and more secrets are uncovered, things get messier than ever. Not all hope is lost though, because at the end of this season the girls are finally able to uncover who “A” is and why they’ve been intent on torturing them for so long. Another character death strikes a chord with one of the girls and simply rubs salt into the viewer’s wounds as the season wraps up.
Even with “A” locked up, the girls’ trouble is far from over in season three. As each of them spend time with a significant other while still trying to piece together what happened to Alison, there’s a new aspect to the game. The texts start up again, though this time it’s not who they think it is. It seems “A” has evolved into the “A team.” This season is by far the most interesting and well done. The twists and turns of every episode feel more natural and less like a roller coaster, and the betrayal is never-ending. It’s the strongest season of the show.
Season four of the show is so crazy, it can only be described in vague details. One of the girls goes to jail, they find out who Red Coat is, viewers realize Alison is very much still alive and the new “A” might be someone that one of the girls holds near and dear to their hearts.
In season five, the show’s biggest revelation is revealed. Which I won’t reveal here, but trust me, it’s big.
Season six is the most traumatic of all the seasons. The “liars” go through a lot and it’s a rough season to watch. In the end, the girls finally get their chance to leave Rosewood and all the chaos which comes with it behind.
The show ends with season seven. This season, unlike the past ones, seems to fly by too quickly. Everyone is back in Rosewood and the story comes to an end, but the way the final episode is constructed leaves the audience with more questions than answers.
To Binge or Not to Binge?
After seven seasons, the question is posed: Is this show worth binging? My verdict is both yes and no. Up until season three of the series, you don’t feel like you’ve been jerked around too much. It feels natural — maybe a little far-fetched, but not enough to make viewers lose interest. Once season four passes, things start to not only feel repetitive but boring as well. It’s hard to believe some of the scenarios the girls are put through. There’s always the nagging set of unanswered questions which rest in the back of viewers’ minds.
When the final episode of the show plays, it leaves viewers angry. This is why this show may not be worth the binge if you’re looking for something good to watch. It’s obvious the writers were struggling to tie all the loose ends before the series concluded because in the last episode we are thrown a major curveball. It’s something which has been done before and feels repetitive and manufactured, like they couldn’t come up with anything better.
In all honesty, I’ve watched this show through twice. All seven seasons. The first time was because I wanted to see what all the hype was about and the second was because I needed something in the background which I didn’t have to pay attention to. The show is interesting and well-written for the most part, but the recurring storylines and constant questions leave you feeling like you’ve just taken a test on something you’ve not studied for at all. Even if you are invested in a certain “ship” or the well-being of a particular character, it becomes extremely tiresome after a while.
If you’re looking for something to have in the background while you do other things, this show is definitely one to add on your binge list.
Best Episode: Season 3, Episode 12: “The Lady Killer”
Similar Shows: “Gossip Girl,” “Riverdale,” “Vampire Diaries,” “Glee,” “The Carrie Diaries” and “90210”
Trigger Warnings: At times, this show can be incredibly violent. There’s character death, mild violence, blood, psychological manipulation and traumatic events in general.
Rating: 3/5 stars
“Pretty Little Liars”
Available to stream on Netflix
160 episodes (approximately six days and 16 hours)