The insurgence of YA mysteries on TV these days receives a DVR priority in this Young Adult mystery writer’s house. Thankfully, ABC Family provides young mystery lovers (and some of us “old”) with a few great soap-opera style whodunits… with Pretty Little Liars topping the list.
Needless to say, I am so very excited about the summer premiere next week! So in honor of the “Pretty Little Liars,” I am sharing an older blog post to help get everyone ready for the return of Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily this summer.
The series begins when Alison DiLaurentis’ (Sasha Pieterse) remains are found a year after her mysterious disappearance in the fictional town of Rosewood. This event brings together her four former best friends, who had drifted apart following that fateful night. Alison was the glue that held the girls together, the leader of the high school clique.
As the episodes progress, viewers see Alison’s viciousness and many of the secrets that she holds over everyone’s heads… is she just a mean girl, or is she simply misunderstood?
After attending Alison’s funeral, the four friends reunite outside the chapel when each of their cell phones sound—they’ve received their first threatening text message from “A”—and the mystery begins: Who killed Alison? And who is “A”?
PLL #1 – Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) returns home from a year abroad with her family, and forgetting she’s a teenager and back in America, goes to a local bar where she meets Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding). The two immediately hit it off and share a kiss after connecting over their love for literature.
The next day at school, Aria walks into English class where she discovers Ezra is also her teacher.
Meanwhile, emotions erupt at home when her mother (Ella Montgomery, played by Holly Marie Combs) leaves her father after learning the true reason behind the family’s extended absence from Rosewood—Aria’s father, a professor, had an affair with a teaching assistant at the local college. Aria and Alison knew this secret prior to the Montgomeries’ extended vacation… having spotted Mr. Montgomery (Chad Lowe) making out with his TA in his car. Whoopsie!
Isn’t it ironic that Aria now begins a torrid love affair and dates her teacher after torturing her father for a similar inappropriate relationship? And don’t worry, “A” won’t let Aria forget it…
PLL #2 – Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) replaced Alison as the most popular girl in school following her friend’s disappearance. “Hefty Hanna”—as Alison liked to call her—dropped her baby fat, partnered with her new BFF Mona (Janel Parrish), and took to a life of brattiness and shoplifting.
Hanna lacks the self-confidence a young woman needs, having watched her father walk out on her and her mother. She spirals out of control, throwing herself at her then boyfriend, only to be rejected. Not helping matters, Hanna watches as her single mother (Ashley Marin, played by Laura Leighton) bails her out of trouble by bedding the local detective on Hanna’s shoplifting case.
Hanna really has the worst luck… like when she is involved in a hit and run because she gets dangerously close to discovering “A’s” real identity. Or when Mona throws her a surprise “glad you’re alive party,” and someone (assumedly “A”) steals all of the money that Hanna’s mother “borrowed” from a client at the bank, threatening to expose her mother’s secret.
While following “A’s” sordid trail back to the money, Hanna falls for the wrong boy—who happens to be feeding information to the girls’ nemesis, Jenna Marshall (Tammin Sursok)—and who of course later turns out to be the right boy for her anyway (Caleb, played by Tyler Blackburn).
PLL #3 – Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is the poor-little-rich-girl of the bunch. Spencer’s successful parents push her to be the absolute best, much like they did with her older sister Melissa (Torrey DeVitto). Spencer is brilliant, but plays second fiddle to her sister, always aware that her parents favor the older Hastings daughter.
After Melissa’s shotgun wedding to a boy on the PLL’s unofficial suspect list, Spencer begins to investigate her new brother-in-law… and slowly uncovers an affair between him and Alison that happened just before Alison’s disappearance. As she continues to investigate, Spencer believes that her new brother-in-law not only stalked her best friend but also killed her, causing the rift between Spencer and her sister to intensify.
Now a suspect herself in Alison’s murder, just like the other girls at one point or another, Spencer befriends Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen) who also happened to serve time in jail briefly as the main suspect in Alison’s death. Oh, and did I mention that Toby is also the half-brother of Jenna? Jenna, the girl the PLL’s are blamed for temporarily blinding…
PLL #4 – Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is the daughter of a military father always away on assignment. Emily is confused with her own sexuality, starting the series with a boyfriend but then falling for the new girl in town, sending her mother (Nia Peeples) into a tailspin. Making even more of a splash, Emily takes Toby Cavanaugh to the homecoming dance as her date, attempting to hide the fact that she’s gay AND ignoring the fact that the entire town believes him to be a murderer.
After accepting that she is a homosexual, Emily is further devastated when her girlfriend is sent away to military school after marijuana is found inside her backpack. Emily’s world continues to turn upside down when her mother announces that they’re leaving Rosewood to live with her father while he is stationed in Texas.
Meanwhile, Emily holds the key to the photo evidence the girls have uncovered on her home computer… evidence they believe links back to Alison’s killer… which conveniently gets erased when the realtor shows the Fields’ house.
Each of the girls has oodles of conflict surrounding them individually, even without “A’s” threatening their every move (there’s SO MUCH MORE that I didn’t mention). Throw in the suspicions the police and their parents have regarding their involvement in Alison’s murder, and the lies they continuously try to hide despite “A’s” best efforts, and Pretty Little Liars doesn’t bore its viewers—it has twists and turns week in and week out.
I have my suspicions that the incorrect identification of “A” is just another twist masterfully planned by the real “A”—confused yet?
Despite the fact that I’m in my thirties, I tune in every single week to watch these little teenagers scurry around, playing detective, trying their best to solve their BFF’s murder, and hoping to discover the true identity of the creepy texter known only as “A.”
Pretty Little Liars is one of my favorite programs on TV today… I can’t wait for it to return this summer!
And seriously… there is so much more that I didn’t even mention!
What do you think? Do you watch Pretty Little Liars? How would you rate it? Who’s your favorite character and why? Have you read any of Sara Shephard’s books? I’d love to hear from you!
Pretty Little Liars returns to ABC Family Tuesday, June 11th!