Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Game Over: Saying Goodbye to Pretty Little Liars [Contributors: Jenn and Megan Mann]

All good things must come to an end. And all seven-year mysteries must too. Tonight marks the final episode of Pretty Little Liars, a show that has come to redefine what it means to see the letter "A." I haven't been with the show since the beginning, but found it a few years ago when I was sick and couch-ridden. Since then, I've watched nearly every episode of the series (admittedly, I'm about a half a season behind going into tonight's series finale), and in spite of the insanity that often ensues, I always find myself engaged with the content and characters. I think that's something that's really important and often misunderstood about television series. Good shows can hook you, while great shows keep you hooked.

I'm not saying Pretty Little Liars is Emmy-worthy material here, but what I am saying is that it's managed to keep so many of us on the hook for so long — thanks, in part, to the slowly unraveling mystery of the identity of the Liars' tormentor. While I've always appreciated the jump scares and the hilariously sardonic dialogue that often comes from Hanna or Spencer, my favorite thing about the show is that it's always been centered on the friendship between Hanna, Ali, Spencer, Emily, and Aria. The show will end with them, just as it began with them. There are too few television shows these days that feature a cast of primarily women, and allow the men to be supporting players in their stories.

As we approach the series finale tonight, Megan and I thought we would look back on some of the show's most iconic moments, crazy storylines, and favorite couples. Return to Rosewood with us one last time, won't you?

What do you think you’ll miss most about Pretty Little Liars?

Megan: Honestly? Everything. I think, despite the randomly dropped plot lines that we’re just supposed to ignore, it’s one of the most well-written shows on television. It’s a “teen drama,” sure, but it’s just so captivating and it keeps you wanting more. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of times I have said “I AM DONE WITH THIS SHOW” and then complained that I had to wait for answers. It’s gotten so dark and twisted and it’s just so brilliant. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and the reveals are always so out of left field that you can’t believe you didn’t see it coming. It’s just so good.

Jenn: I think I'll miss that it was a show that never took itself too seriously. It's shows like PLL that remind me that it's okay for creators to realize, "Yeah, that was a little insane and weird." I said it in the opening, but I'll miss how female-centric the series was. I love that the Big Bads were assumed/revealed (for the most part) to be women! I mean, you had Charlotte who was complex in and of herself, and then Mona who I'll get to in a minute because I LOVE MONA, and all of these really nuanced, really interesting female villains. That's why I'm hoping we will get A.D.'s reveal to be a lady from the show.

But overall, even though PLL was always my go-to "guilty pleasure" series, it really was just a fun, weird, wonderful ride. Even the moments where you wanted to throw something at your television because Aria was being so dumb or Emily couldn't hold a poker face, you still loved the crazy.

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Given how many crazy things have happened on this show, it might be difficult to narrow the “craziest moment” down to just one. So tell us: what are some of your most memorable “OMG WUT” moments from the show?

Megan: Oh, God. How do I even manage that? There’s just been too much. Finding out that Spencer was actually Mary Drake’s daughter, finding out who ANY of the incarnations of A have been, finding out that Ali was still alive and not just some weird apparition that Emily was seeing. I seriously just don’t even know how to narrow down all of the craziest moments in this show. The entire seventh season is a pretty good candidate because I think I’ve screamed, “WHAT WAS THAT?” after every single episode.

Jenn: Ali's hand popping out of the grave will always be my favorite "WHAT" moment, as well as the episode where the girls did that fashion show AND THERE WERE BONES IN THEIR DRESSES. Ezra getting shot and Aria accidentally killing a girl also rank high on the "What did I just watch?" meter. And as Megan said, basically any time a presumed-dead character returned.

Who has been your favorite character? Recurring character?

Megan: In all seriousness, Mona. She has been such an underdog and I had no idea she was originally A. I mean, in hindsight, it’s a little more obvious, but she’s so smart and cunning and just amazing. Not only that, but she was part of the reason that the Liars all survived the dollhouse, she helped save them time and again, and has found answers where the girls never would have thought to look. The Liars could have easily underestimated her but she’s always shown what an asset she is. Hello, she WAS A! She can get into A.D.'s head better than any of the other girls.

And I have just always had a weird soft spot for Ezra. Sue me.

Jenn: Spencer Hastings is everything I aspire to be. She will, hands down, remain my favorite character in this show forever. She's so incredibly intelligent, and Troian Bellisario took a character who very easily could have been shallow and/or one-note (I mean, every show has the archetypal overachiever character, right?) and turned her into something so grand and beautiful. It's been really cool to see each character journey and watch them become more well-rounded individuals, but I'll always connect most deeply to Spencer and her journey.

But also, Mona was an incredible character. I literally wrote a character appreciation post about her back in 2014. I absolutely love layered characters and Janel Parrish did a heck of a job delivering every possible facet of Mona — from unassuming mean girl to sociopath to redeemable friend, etc. Mona is just so amazing and complex that I don't really know how else to talk about her without just repeating the words "brilliant" over and over again.

I also have to say that I love the girls' moms on the show. They're so fun and never got enough screentime (but apparently they had all the wine which is really what matters in the end).

What is your favorite romantic pairing on the series? (Feel free to talk about your least favorite romantic pairing too.)

Megan: I’m a huge Ezria fan and I have no problem admitting that. I love them and there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, it’s a totally flawed relationship, sure, but why take away from it? They both had other relationships and realized they were who the other wanted. Who doesn’t love that? And I am a total Haleb fan, I must admit. I wasn’t too keen on Spencer and Marco. They were a weird match and that ultimately backfired. So was Hanna and her fiance whose name I can’t even remember because if you can’t share everything with the person you’re with, what’s the point of being with them? Honestly.

Jenn: I still love you, Megan, even if you ship Ezria. I could never get behind those two because it was weeeeeeeird. Out of all of the pairings, I think Haleb is probably my favorite. From the beginning, they just had a fun little banter-y relationship and knew how to push each others' buttons. Caleb was always there for Hanna and I appreciate how loyal and awesome he is. (Full disclosure, I kinda did ship him a little bit with Spencer though. SORRY GUYS.)

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What’s been your favorite episode of the series, and why?

Megan: I really loved the prom episode that led to them discovering Charlotte was Uber A. I thought it was so outrageous that any of them even considered wearing those outfits and then just the whole thing happened. It was so over-the-top in all of the best ways. I also enjoyed the episode where they discovered Ezra had been watching them as a means of research for his book because Aria had the single best cry face. Also, it lead an extremely false trail for who A really was and I thought that was brilliant. The episodes involving Ravenswood, especially with that strange kid who told them those weird prophecies, were always so dark and foreboding. I loved the change in cinematography. With 159 episodes — and 160 after tonight — it’s hard to pick out the best ones!

Jenn: "This is a Dark Ride" remains one of my all-time favorites, mostly because it was really well-paced and I loved the fact that it added to the frantic energy because they were all trapped on a train. (Plus, Halloween episodes are great.) "Shadow Play" was incredibly well-done and it's probably my favorite episode Troian Bellisario has ever done.

We’ve had so many iterations of our Big Bad (from just “A” to the A Team, and now to A.D.), but who do you think the ultimate Big Bad is going to be revealed to be?

Megan: I don’t even know at this point. I was convinced it was Mona, but then realized that that would be stupid since she was already A and that would have been a cop-out. Then I thought, very seriously for a few moments, that it was Caleb. I mean, he had insane access to the girls, knew their weak spots, and where to hit them the hardest. Then he married Hanna and mentioned that they wouldn’t be able to testify against each other. I thought that that was just insane. Why would he want to do that? That’s just not how the real Disney Prince of Rosewood would roll. It isn’t. But that would be one of the wildest twists of the entire series if that were to be true. I would never see that coming in a million years.

But if I was right in season three and it was Wren all along — BECAUSE WHY DID HE SHOW UP FOR THOSE 43 SECONDS? — I will feel so vindicated. However, if it ends up being Jenna, I will cry Gossip Girl and start drafting up the longest letter I. Marlene King will have ever read.

Jenn: I HAVE NO IDEA! I hope it's one of the Liars because even though that would probably require an entire episode's worth of explanation, I really just want one of them to be evil. I kind of hope that it's Spencer or Aria. If it's none of the Liars though, my sister and I have a theory it might be Paige. I honestly don't know, though, you guys.

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Anything else you want to add?

Megan: I have loved this show so immensely and have probably lost years off of my life reading conspiracy theories and discussing them with my friends. It’s one of the best mysteries on TV and I will miss it very much. If you ever want to recommend an addicting binge-watch, immediately suggest this to your friends. And please just don’t end like Gossip Girl. I’m still not over that.

Jenn: If you guys have never watched Pretty Little Liars, you totally should. It's been a fun, albeit occasionally frustrating, ride. And the cast has put their best selves into it. If you're a fan of shows like Riverdale and Gossip Girl, check out PLL!

1 comment:

  1. I loved this! I definitely agree with the both of you! While this show frustrated me to no end, it still had me hooked and 110% invested in the outcomes and the lives of the Liars. Half of the fun was combing through the countless theories and trying to piece together all of the "clues" into some understandable explanation. PLL has been a part of my life since freshman year of high school and I am now going into my last year of undergrad. This show will forever be a part of my adolescence and I wouldn't not be surprised if I started rewatching the show in a few months. Rosewood will be missed <3