You know that adage "nothing gold can stay"? This is especially true when it comes to American television. With Pretty Little Liars wrapping up Season 7B and coming to an end — after eight years — I have to say, I’m actually happy that Pretty Little Liars is over. It was a great show, and it held my interest for a long time, but really, it's time to say goodbye.
The buzz for the show began before Season 1 even premiered. Plenty of fans read the books and were psyched the series would be immortalized on TV. Also, the campaigns that ABC Family (now Freeform) was doing were unlike anything on the network before — a bunch of pretty young women, covered in dirt? Standing next to a coffin? Encouraging secrets? It all seemed so much more adult than any of the channel's other shows, and they definitely knew how to tap into an audience of older teens and 20-somethings that were in the mood for juicy, soapy “teen” drama.
The greatest thing about Pretty Little Liars was the sheer ambition for storylines and breaking down stereotypes, but that also proved to be the way the show would unravel — around the reveal of Charlotte DiLaurentis aka CeCe Drake as A, Pretty Little Liars began to collapse under its own weight.
This phenomenon is certainly not new, but it seems to happen more often to teen-type shows with something to prove. Let’s use The O.C. as a first example. The pilot season was also unlike anything on television at the time, and its creators put together 20-something tightly packed episodes about a kid from the wrong side of the tracks.
But then, without any more story to tell, things fell off — Marissa was with Alex seemingly just for ratings kicks, Summer and Seth broke up four times, that guy Matt came in, Volchok and Johnny were introduced, and the loyal viewers started getting confused. Same with Gossip Girl — after one dense season, there was nowhere feasible to go with plot because so many options had been exhausted.
Pretty Little Liars seemed to be in this same vein, albeit so much more complicated. What started as a story of four friends trying to figure out what happened to their frenemy had so many twists and turns that Waze would have just gotten up and walked away. I. Marlene King and the writers of Pretty Little Liars may have had the best intentions in wanting to create drama and intrigue, but all of those red herrings and unanswered questions were confusing to follow.
Fans found themselves asking a lot of the same questions — what happened to that guy again? Where is so-and-so? Why can’t the police close one investigation before starting the next? When ABC Family turned into Freeform, Pretty Little Liars went deeper and darker, but that didn’t necessarily make the show any better. There were still broken plots and unnecessary characters. The same series that aimed to defy conventional storytelling soon began to embrace it.
After investing so much time and energy into following the Liars' saga, there's no backing out now. For better or for worse, I’m in this 'til the end, but that doesn't mean I’m not happy that PLL is almost over. It’s about time.