Well, I guess that’s wrap on adolescence. Every middle school girl’s favorite show, Pretty Little Liars, just (finally) had its series finale. The show began in my pre-teen years and has come to an end just before my second year in college. It feels like a sort of stepping stone, sign, or push into adulthood, in which I’m watching HBO-esque full-frontal sex scenes instead of Aria and Ezra making out in a staircase or waist-up naked Caleb and fully clothed Hanna hiding in a shower. And I suppose not everything has to be a metaphor for my becoming a functioning and independent member of society, but just about everything feels that way, so let me live, okay?
On June 8, 2010, Pretty Little Liars premiered, and I was hooked. I remember getting together with my friends on Tuesday nights in the summer to watch it. I wore cupcake pajamas and glued my eyes to the screen. I shuddered at every jump scare, laughed at every joke, dropped my jaw at every twist, and daydreamed about every kiss. Not only were we terrified by the murder. but we were secretly intrigued by the violent mystery and pre-teen sexual tension. ABC Family (now Freeform) was starting to get racy, and we were the target audience.
In the first season, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily were friends who were never going to sell each other out but kinda thought about it. That wavering, the possibility of betrayal but ultimate resistance to temptation to move toward selflessness, honored female friendship in a way I had never been able to explain. Of course, it took the hyperbolic circumstances of a murder mystery to make clear those nuances of camaraderie, but PLL put onto the screen the lengths we’d go to for our friends, even if there is a little hesitation.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the show got too confusing too fast and maybe dragged on. I don’t even know how many A’s there must’ve been at the end or who died or how they died or who was in love or who was pretending to be in love or who was using someone for something or…I don’t know how long I could go on, and I don’t know how vague it’ll get because — let’s face it — this show covered all the bases. No matter how convoluted it got, it will always be a young adult classic — not in spite of, but because of those sometimes farcical curveballs and exhausting fluctuations in character.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Pretty Little Liars was admittedly a big mess. At the risk of sounding prematurely nostalgic, adolescence is a big mess, and female relationships are a big, complex, rewarding mess. This show will stick. I expect a spin-off in the near future.