CAUTION: This is literally all spoilers.
For the past seven years, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ has been my guilty pleasure of choice. This show has literally haunted my dreams, made me afraid of being home alone at night and has given me that surge of pride whenever a BuzzFeed quiz confirms that yes, I am indeed a Spencer. But I am also not afraid to be critical of my beloved teen drama. Here, dear readers, are five ways that I think I. Marlene King and company let us all down.
1. This obsession with getting pregnant
Like me, the Liars are 24. Unlike me, they all seem to be very consumed with their fertility. What is the rush, ladies? Did you guys make a pregnancy pact? I understand it can be devastating to learn you can’t have biological children, so I sympathize with Aria. But y’all have plenty of time to get pregnant or adopt (or not have kids at all, which is another great option!) Why don’t you enjoy your newfound freedom-from-AD and travel or advance in your careers? Don’t even get me started on Emison's twins.
While the showrunners and cast have always touted this show as being, above all else, a show about female friendship, having the finale being peppered with marriages and pregnancies makes it seem like this is the point (and goal) of womanhood. All of the girls, with the exception of Mona, are ending up with their high school sweethearts, staying in the same town that they grew up in (and were tortured in), and are either parents or soon-to-be parents. Their lives are not revolving around each other, but their partners and their future children. That is stasis and complacency. And antithetical to the show’s mission statement.
2. The promise of “HBO level sex”
there is a lot of HBO level sex in 720. Equal opportunity HBO level sex.
— I. Marlene King (@imarleneking) June 6, 2017
Which HBO shows are you watching, Marlene? Certainly not 'Big Little Lies'. Or 'True Blood'. Or 'Game of Thrones'. One Emison thigh caress does not a sex scene make. I even thought we were about to see Toby’s butt and you didn’t even let us have that. What I really wanted was a hot Haleb scene, but instead you gave me Caleb’s “Wanna make a baby?” line. I dare you to find me a real-life 24-year-old guy who could say that with a straight face.
Let the record state that I supported and still support Twincer. Please see below my text conversation with HC’s Entertainment Editor Erin Crabtree:
But I also thought Twincer would be Avery Drake-- you know, Avery of the Bethany Young friend group. I thought perhaps AD had grown up at Radley, been thoroughly deprived a life and when she met her half-sister Charlotte, decided to take back what she thought was rightfully hers—the life of Spencer Hastings. I did not think Avery would instead be Alex, the “British” bartender.
I understand that Alex does not live the cushy, upper-middle-class life that Spencer does—but she also didn’t seem to be socially deprived in a way that would give enough motive for a chill, sarcastic Brit to pack bags and spend a lot of time, money and effort on torturing her twin sister, cousin, and three non-related friends for several years? Alex is a little grungy, sure, but in a cool way, flirting with people at bars and making an income for herself. I could buy that Charlotte brainwashed her, but I would have liked to see that more.
4. The stakes
I’m getting an MFA in creative writing, so I like to think I know a thing or two about plot. Here’s MFA 101: the plot has to be earned. It has to be that going back, you cannot imagine any other way this could end because the ending was inevitable. There also have to be actual stakes for the characters.
At no point during the two-hour finale did I doubt that the Liars would prevail. That’s not good storytelling. Much of the problem has to do with pacing. The first hour was bogged down with Melissa masks (that made no sense) and babies (real and future). The second hour moved so quickly that it felt too easy. You’re telling me that the group that has been tortured and bamboozled at every step of the way is suddenly gonna solve this mystery in ten minutes? AD has outplayed them for years and yet finding her address took about five minutes?
Here’s how I would have done it: Introduce Twincer earlier—maybe several episodes before the finale. Make me feel like Alex could still outplay these girls—that a Liar could actually die. Show us the group come to the conclusion slowly and in a more realistic and horrifying way. If that had happened, Twincer might have felt satisfying to more viewers. The show has literally been about twins and doubles from the beginning, and this ending also is a nod to the original source material of Sara Shepard. I’m satisfied I predicted Twincer, but I also understand the “I wasted 7 years!” memes on Twitter right now.
Who is this bitch? I also find it hard to believe that a Gen-Z girl from an affluent Philadelphia suburb, in 2017, could say “lesbo” as an insult and not be shamed by her “woke” classmates.
I do not care about Addison. I hope Addison, unlike Ali, is actually dead. The ending could have ended at Mona winning the game (she’s the real hero, after all). But instead, we get a cheap-feeling ~full circle~. Girl, bai.
I'm about to go watch the entire thing again for a fresh perspective. Despite my critcism, the show will always be iconic to me, and a sobering tale of what happens when you don't call the damn police and tell your parents you're being threatened with death. Classic.