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Pretty Little Midseason Finale: Liars at their Best

Pretty Little Midseason Finale: Liars at their Best

I am addicted to "Pretty Little Liars," ABC Family’s newest teen dramathon, based on Sara Shepard’s books of the same name. It’s difficult pin down what exactly is so deliciously irresistible about Pretty Little Liars. At first I was deeply uncomfortable with the fact that it seemed the show was putting Shay Mitchell's character, Emily’s bisexuality on the same level of negativity as the other girls’ morally wrong and seriously illegal behavior. The show stars Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Trolan Avery Bellasario and Shay Mitchell.

I have a confession to make: I am addicted to Pretty Little Liars. It only took three days and ten episodes, but I literally cannot get enough of ABC Family’s newest teen dramathon, based on Sara Shepard’s books of the same name. It’s difficult pin down what exactly is so deliciously irresistible about Pretty Little Liars. It could be the over-the-top super-drama that is so unrealistic it becomes fun, or maybe it’s that right when the show seems like your average teen soap opera, something completely creepy flies out of nowhere and makes you think twice before checking your text messages. Or, perhaps it’s that PLL is a prime time show with a subplot about a bisexual teen that doesn’t feel forced or out-of-character (take note, 90210). Regardless, Pretty Little Liars has proved itself to be summer’s guiltiest pleasure- so much so that it’s hard to kiss goodbye.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the basic breakdown: Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily are four friends who reunite a year after their best friend Alison was murdered mysteriously. In this short amount of time, the four pals have managed to rack up a Guinness Book of World Records worthy amount of secrets.

Aria, played by Bionic Woman’s Lucy Hale, is having an affair with her English teacher. Fun Fact: Lucy Hale is also a veteran of the only season of American Juniors -- AKA American Idol for children -- hence her random singing.

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Hanna, played by Eastwick’s Ashley Benson, is a semi-kleptomaniac with body issues.

Spencer, played by Troian Avery Bellasario -- winner of the best name ever award -- is a perfectionist with a tendency to make out with her older sister’s boyfriends.

Last but not least, Emily, played by relative newcomer Shay Mitchell, is falling for the girl next door, the whole time knowing just how much her parents will disapprove.

To top it all off, the friends find themselves getting texts from a mysterious stalker called “A,” who constantly threatens to reveal the girls’ darkest secrets and often follows through. 

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At first I was deeply uncomfortable with the fact that it seemed the show was putting Emily’s bisexuality on the same level of negativity as the other girls’ morally wrong and seriously illegal behavior. I didn’t have to tsk for long though. It turns out Emily’s struggle is not with going to great lengths to hide her crush on new neighbor Maya, but instead with embracing her attraction and accepting the relationship. A moment in which one of Emily’s friends says that she would never let a thing like sexuality change her opinion of Emily is a beautifully subtle moment that viewers can learn from. It also doesn’t hurt that Emily is easily the sweetest and most likable character on Pretty Little Liars. It’s always a relief to have one character who isn’t at some point a backstabbing bitch. ABC Family isn’t shy about their same-sex couple either -- the girls get almost as much on-screen make out time as their heterosexual buddies. Oh the irony that this is coming from the same channel that plays The 700 Club. How times are a’changing.

So what’s been happening in Rosewood lately? (Warning, by the way, spoilers lurk ahead for those who have never seen and intend to watch the show).

Well, the blinding of an innocent (or not so innocent) high schooler, incestuous affairs, tornados, betrayal, foreclosures, overall destruction, and of course the murder (or not so murder?) of Alison DiLaurentis. And that’s just a typical day.  All of this has been leading up to the midseason finale, which is packed with more revelations, and of course more drama, than ever before. Things seem to be looking up at the start of the episode -- Aria’s finally dating someone who isn’t a teacher, Spencer’s gotten her relationship with her sister back on track, Hanna’s started standing up to her vile friend Mona, and Emily is finally taking her relationship with Maya to the next level.

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In addition, the girls are also sure they’ll be taken one step closer to finding out who “A” is at Mona’s camping-themed birthday party. But if things seem too good to be true, it's always because they are. Four girls with an entire nation’s worth of secrets alone at night in a dark forest with a presumed murderer? Someone’s going to get hurt, and someone does. Unfortunately, it’s a favorite character of mine and not Aria, whose selfish carelessness and immaturity is seriously grating. And while the promo may have promised “A”’s identity would be revealed, don’t get your hopes up. We’ll have to wait until January to learn anything more about the mystery antagonist.

The four leading ladies are the biggest draw here, as they all seem to understand perfectly the tone the show is trying to achieve. None of them are big names (unless you, like me, are the proud owner of American Juniors’ first and only CD), but they are all strong actresses who always help the show’s many twists and turns stay fresh.

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It’s not just the kids who take the spotlight, however. Holly Marie Combs of Charmed fame is just the right amount of stressed as Aria’s mother, and Beverly Hills, 90210’s Laura Leighton is particularly intriguing as Hanna’s mom/recent criminal. “I buy you everything you need to be popular!” Laura’s character Ashley exclaims at her shoplifting daughter, in a perfect example of the type of relationships parents have with their children on the show.

Still, it’s “A” who captures the pretty little liars’ essence best. “Lions and tigers and bitches, oh my!” one of A’s texts reads, and what is arguably one of the show’s most fantastically cheesy lines. Is it poetry that will go down in history? Hell no, but it’s a whole lot of fun. 

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