Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oh, the Addictive Powers of Those Pretty Little Liars

This piece originally appeared on Huffington Post Entertainment

If you’re a TV junkie like I am then you live for good television A series that entertains, challenges, and whets your appetite for more as each episode ends. I love a densely woven serial like Lost or a juicy prime time soap opera like Revenge or the revived continuation of Dallas. That said, almost every part of me feels I should hang my head in shame at this confession. I’ve got a new addiction, and I can’t seem to feed it enough. My name is Michael, and I’m addicted to Pretty Little Liars. I have fallen under its spell completely.

It’s a whodunit story that reminds me of the first season of Desperate Housewives crossed with the texting, fashion, and snark of Gossip Girl splashed with a smattering of Twin Peaks; a teen-bent soap opera filled with secrets, forbidden love, and teen angst. It brims with beautiful girls wearing beautiful clothes and hot guys who find themselves shirtless--if you're lucky. It's also a creep-fest filled with shadow lurkers and dark, stormy nights. Who you can trust is constantly changing, but betrayal is always on the agenda. The cliffhanger is alive and well and perfectly executed at the end of each episode.

On a recent trip to Boston, I found myself with a free afternoon. Flipping through the channels, I discovered a marathon of PLL airing on ABC Family. I decided to watch. That decision proved to be one that would hook me and reel me in. When I returned home from that trip I promptly bought seasons one and two. I devoured them. I’ve been eating, drinking, breathing the goings on in Rosewood, Pennsylvania. The backlog of ignored recordings on my DVR stretches back four weeks.

On the outside the fictional town of Rosewood looks exactly how you might expect a quaint Pennsylvania town to look--white painted churches, manicured lawns, pristine town square. But under the cover of darkness, the shadow of secrecy seems to be twisting its tendrils deeper into this town, entwining the residents in an endless search for a murderer. The victim, poor little mean girl, Alison DiLaurentis. It seems many had a grudge against her, but the finger-pointing to her killer is in constant flux. Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, and Emily Fields are the friends Alison left behind; the girls most devastated by her death, and the ones working overtime as amateur sleuths to solve the crime.

The secrets extend farther to include more than the ones surrounding Alison’s murder. Each family has secrets--each girl has secrets--and the mysterious “A” knows them all. Does God have a rival in the omnipresent department? We all have secrets, but in Rosewood the secrets are under constant threat of exposure and always seem to get revealed.

I admit the conclusions reached by the Liars can often be predictable, but let’s face it, the girls are in high school, (albeit unlike any I went to high school with) and they’re quick to assume the wrong answer. We all know what they say about people who assume. I’ve had many an eye roll moment as I watched them get it wrong time and again. The plot twists, however, are consistently surprising. Honestly, the show is a lot of fun. As the series progresses the dialogue gets sharper, the one-liners funnier. If you give it a chance you might find yourself thoroughly entertained. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it, entertainment? Don’t give up on it. Embrace it as a guilty pleasure. Just get ready for the withdrawals because when you have no new episodes to watch, waiting is an itch for which there’s no fix.

Stop hiding in the shadows PLL junkies. Somebody out there probably knows you’re watching anyway. As the theme song says, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.” -A