Remember the good old days when a new episode of “Pretty Little Liars” would air on Tuesdays? Fans would watch and every week where we would apparently get new clues and information to work with uncovering the identity of the mysterious “A”. Yeah good times, well they would’ve been good times provided had this show actually of made sense. Never would I of ever thought as a former fan of this show, I would be writing an article breaking down how poorly written the show ended up being but here we are and hopefully other frustrated PLL fans can relate. Now, the show is deader than a doornail at this point because it ended but the purpose of this is to more so look back at the show’s flaws, what the writers did right and what the writers did wrong. Let’s dive into this very long awaited detail analysis on the show known as Pretty Little Liars. Oh I got featured guests on here from fans who watched the show as well so make sure to stay tuned for the entire article to see their thoughts and opinions.
Breaking Down The Success Of PLL
The show’s main storyline originally focused on the mystery of the death of queen bee, Alison DiLaurentis and how her four friends begin getting mysterious notes from “-A” about secrets only Alison would’ve known. So as you can tell this does sound very Desperate Housewives but I personally think the show felt very different than that, as it was able to stand on it’s own through the mystery of “A”. The show consisted of the four main liars, Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery and Emily Fields all who are being victimized by “A” and set off on their own to uncover the mystery of Alison’s death.
“The writers were active with the fans on Twitter, fans were encouraged to theorize and PLL was the first mystery show to have a consistent villain “A”. Similar shows would take a similar route in the future such as Scream Queens, Riverdale, etc.The Scream King
It’s worth pointing out that the show’s mysteries and reveals made the show experience feel very interactive within the fandom. Various episodes of the show (Mostly finales, premieres or specials) would sometimes generate over millions of tweets. An August 2013 telecast of the Pretty Little Liars Summer Finale (Dubbed as #WorldWarA) earned a total of 1.9M tweets. Several other episodes hit the one million mark as well, which shows how popular the show was and confuses me when at school no one seems to really recognize the show. It was all over social media, I don’t know how anyone would not know what it is (Yet they know about Riverdale? Are you kidding me?). Not even a show like Riverdale, has been able to top PLL’s massive track record of social media engagement. Fellow fan of the show, Five Lying B, says “I think because social media got really popular while PLL was airing-especially on Twitter”. She then adds “The cast and writers really engaged with the fans and the network was genius when they did hashtags for the show, plus the fandom was a force to be reckoned with because it was just so big”. The ratings held on as well with several episodes in Season 5 and Season 6 managing to earn over 2 million viewers for several episodes with some finales hitting the 3 million mark. Needless to say the show was huge and had a big following at the time, then the CeCe reveal happened and half the fans left. Why does that not surprise me?
Too Many Unanswered Questions
One of the show’s biggest flaws in my opinion was the sheer amount of unanswered questions that the writers failed to answer. I have no idea as to what their excuses are for not answering some of these burning questions. If you watched the show you’ll know what I mean. For example, during one scene we see Emily being attacked by a driver in a car who proceeds to steal a apparent weapon that she found. This takes place towards the end of Season 6. Who the driver was of that van and significance of the weapon found is never brought up again and the writers act like it never happened. I’m sorry what? Or the time, the character Eddie Lamb mysteriously vanishes from Rosewood and is never mentioned ever again. You see this is bad writing and I’m not giving the writers any form of grace here. They have a job to keep track of the mysteries they created and should know when they come up with them how they’re going to be concluded.
” the unanswered questions are one of the most disappointing aspects of the show. Despite the writing and everything else going downhill if those questions were answered it wouldn’t have been as bad”.The Scream king
There are way more bloody questions that were never answered like here’s a few. Why was Wren helping CeCe to get in and out of Radley to visit Mona? Where was Rollins planning on taking Alison the night he took her out from Welby? What was Sara Harvey’s relationship with Charlotte/CeCe? Who Was Beach Hottie? These are just a few prime examples of questions that the writers never answered and I don’t think they even know the answers to their own questions. I feel half of these questions where the results of red herrings but still you properly wrap up a question, it’s not even that hard. I mean Riverdale has been able to at least do that so why couldn’t the PLL writers of ever done it. So PLL writers, explain as to why you could not of answered these simple questions? I’d love to know your response especially Marlene’s.
The “A” Reveal Everyone Hated
So speaking of plot holes, here’s how the whole thing began with the episode “Game Over, Charles” (The 10th episode of Season 6). Words cannot express how disappointed and honestly disgusted I was with this episode due to the pure amount of bad dialogue, plot holes, and just the overall bad writing. This was the episode where we learn that CeCe Drake is in fact “A” but is also Alison’s long lost older sibling, Charles DiLaurentis who transitioned into Charlotte. Now this type of storyline was always a risky move and had the potential to offend people so I don’t know why either of these writers thought this would be a good idea. Well they blew it anyway and I don’t think there are any saving graces honestly to this joke of an episode. First off, the amount of plot holes this episode caused is honestly ridiculous, half the information we had been given in other seasons suddenly did not align to the answers the writers gave us. The dialogue in this episode was weak which was unlike PLL which normally had semi-decent dialogue, and let’s not forget how we along with the liars found out who “A” was through a HOLOGRAPHIC screen. That’s right, a crappy CGI holographic screen that looked like something out of a low budget Disney Channel Original movie from the 2000s. I don’t know if the writers were high when writing this episode but it sure felt like it because this episode was T-R-A-S-H- and to this day remains in my opinion, one of the worst episodes in television history. Who else remembers that one scene where they propped a TV screen in front of a window and tried to pass it off as being a scene in the show? Another huge issue was how hard the writers tried to push for us to feel bad for “A”. This person was a legit monster who went as far as kidnapping them, and you expect us to feel bad for this person and why they did this? Get out of here. What’s worse is how bad her motive was. She literally tortured them because they were apparently happy that “Alison” was gone. Which was the biggest lie ever because all the girls did was try to find out what happened to Ali so this makes no sense lol.
“I think it had the potential but it wasn’t executed properly. They didn’t make CeCe a large enough character for the shock value to TRULY be there. There wasn’t any weight to it. The fans perceived it as bad because it came out of nowhere in a bad way, CeCe hadn’t been relevant since the beginning of Season 5”The Scream King
You know the disappointment fans felt when watching Batman V. Superman or Justice League? Yeah that was how PLL fans felt when watching this episode. Words cannot express how disappointed I was after watching this. There’s no words. Fan account, Five Lying B., says “I was very upset, I was yelling at the TV because it didn’t make any sense”. The backstory didn’t make sense and they took a character known as Sara Harvey (Referred to by fans as Shower Harvey because she took showers for a majority of the season) and made her not only Red Coat but Black Widow as well. We had known her for literally less than 10 episodes and the writers picked her to be both Red Coat and Black Widow, two anonymous characters that had been hyped up for years. Unbelievable. Like I was blown away the writers actually made such an irrelevant character like Sara, so important to the plot. It was just outright bad. Also, I know Sara was briefly mentioned in Season 4 for like one episode but the writers clearly at that point did not care about her character because they used a flipping stock photo as her picture during that episode. So that sums it up, this episode was trash and remains to be trash to this day. The best part of the episode was when Emily punched Sara “Shower” Harvey in the face because that’s what all the fans wanted to do in that moment. So I guess that’s one thing the writers got right so congrats on that.
The Plot Holes
I’ve never seen a show with as many plot holes as I did with PLL. It was absolutely unreal how bad the writers ended up being with the continuity. . There are answers and backstories the writers gave that made no sense with the information we had been given to prior. I would say a majority of the plot holes started within that specific episode which I will go into detail in my next point. I don’t get how when developing a mystery you don’t look out for plot holes, isn’t YOUR job to write a coherent mystery that all makes sense in the end? The characters motives made no sense, their backstory made no sense either and it ruined the whole story. What’s even more hilarious is Marlene King (Executive Producer) claimed that there were no plot holes she was aware of LOL. The writers said they knew what the story was but if they did, the show wouldn’t of had plot holes so something clearly fell beneath the cracks. “The writers one hundred percent could have done better” says fan account Five Lying B. on Instagram. She adds that “The CeCe thing is huge, nothing made sense”. By “The CeCe Thing” she’s referring to these plot holes listed below.
- Charlotte (CeCe Drake) was a patient in Radley for a majority of her life yet in previous seasons she’s shown driving around town with a car and a license. How does a mental patient who’s been in a mental facility have a license to drive by themselves? Makes no sense.
- How Charlotte/CeCe was apparently prom queen yet claimed she wasn’t a student at Rosewood High and just randomly had a picture of herself taken. Like c’mon this makes no sense especially since she knew half the people from Rosewood High and they all claimed to go to school together.
- -How Bethany Young and Charlotte were kids when they pushed Marion Cavanough off the roof yet originally it was stated that Toby’s mother died a year prior to the first Halloween special, the First Secret. This was literally confirmed by Emily herself as she mentioned that it had been a year since Toby’s mother passed (Timeline wise this would’ve probably been around 2007). Oh and to prove even more to this, we saw a flashback of Alison and Toby as young teens but Marlene later claimed they were actually kids in that scene and it was “interpretive”.
- -Sara Harvey claimed to be kidnapped and from the tally marks on the wall in her room it looked like this could’ve been true but apparently she was allowed out to help Charlotte with her “A” things so how does that make sense? If Sara went missing a day after Alison yet Charlotte was still in Radley, when did Sara really go missing and how did she end up in Charlotte’s grasp in the first place. Again, never explained and this had been a new concept they obviously came up with.
- -How CeCe apparently had a roommate (Who was shown in Season 4) while attending college. Yet during the time she took classes at UPenn, she claimed she was still a patient at Radley. So how did she have a roommate? Makes absolutely no sense per usual.
In response to the plot holes, The Scream King, made a very accurate statement. “The writers could’ve fixed them. It wouldn’t have been perfect cuz the damage was already done, but they truly could have used Season 7 to fix what they messed up prior”.
Answering Questions Via Interview
As if the PLL writers track record couldn’t get any worse, it does. Surprise, surprise it gets much worse. Why you ask? Oh because the executive producer, Marlene King ended up answering many of the show’s burning questions through interview. That’s right rather than answer them on the show itself, the writers chose to answer a majority of these questions through interview with ET Weekly or even just going to good old twitter. Some of the burning questions Marlene answered was that Eddie Lamb just left Rosewood, the mysterious body in the barrel in Season 5 was a cadavar that Charlotte stole from a medical school, Sara Harvey pulled Mona, Emily, and Aria out of a fire from Season 3, and a few other answers that even I don’t remember. I’m sorry but are you kidding me? You had time to do your pointless filler subplots yet you didn’t have time to answer these questions on the legit show. Bad writing.
“Unprofessional. If it was small stuff that was never supposed to be answered in the show as like a little extra side bit that’d be cool. But the writers can’t even use that as a justification because alot of those answers should of been answered in the show”The Scream King
I’ll link the article so you can see for yourself, there’s a bunch of answers on there, answers that were never given on the actual show. Either way, this is so unprofessional in my opinion and to this day blows my mind the writers resorted to this method of delivering fans answers. I hope that interview sticks around for anyone who might’ve just watched the show now, because without it they won’t know the answers. Ridiculous no other words necessary. Once again fans of the show expressed concern with this method of answering questions. “While I loved she was answering questions, I thought it was sorta disappointing that she’d even have to answer stuff in tweets that should have been answered in the episodes” says Five Lying B.
Uber A In General Fell Really Flat
So following the Big A reveal in Season 6, the show never really felt the same. The fanbase was still fun to theorizing with but the CeCe reveal really killed the momentum the show had going for it. The ratings started declining as well. Serves the writers right after such a horrible episode. The second half of Season 6, took place five years after the events of the CeCe reveal. Of course we were introduced to a new “A” referred to by the writers as “Uber A” but the villain in the beginning fell so insanely flat. Basically CeCe/Charlotte ends up getting killed and this new “A” is dead set on finding out who her killer is, harassing the liars as a result. The thing is Marlene King teased this new “A” as being scary but this person was far from scary. In fact, they were more like a wannabe rip off “A”. This “A” was sending the liars texts featuring emojis, walking around Rosewood wearing realistic masks, and overall just being a pest. This new “A” then finally becomes a bit more of a threat in the season six finale they announced themselves as “A.D.” after they succeeded in kidnapping Hanna. So yeah the emojis and the weird masks really made it hard to take this person seriously. What’s even dumber is this was so pointless because “A.D.” ended up dropping the emojis and ended up wearing the iconic black hoodie so what was the point? I’m glad they dropped the emojis because that aspect was just hilariously awful.
It was planned only a season ahead whereas Mona was mainly planned from the beginning and CeCe was planned for Season 3. She was only relevant for a season and a half. And it was too much to reveal in one episode the way they went about it. Also, an underground bunker? Again? Yikes.The Scream King
I think the concept of Uber A (A.D.) had potential but it felt underwhelming because they were so weak in the beginning. The emojis, dumb masks, and weak threats really didn’t help. Eventually, A.D., did improve as a villain, such as blackmailing the liars when they cover up the death of Alison’s psychotic husband (Rollins/Archer Dunhill). The stakes in Season 7 do end up getting higher but at times the writers shoved A.D. to the side which was a problem, considering A.D. was the main big bad. So overall, A.D., did improve as a villain but by that point it was already too late because the writers took forever to develop this big bad to make them feel like a legit threat unfortunately. Eventually we discover that A.D. (Uber A) is Spencer’s twin sister, Alex Drake. The way they revealed it was well done but the story in general was weak in my opinion. Alex’s story and motives made enough sense, but still I felt compared to other “A”s such as Mona and CeCe, Alex just felt like the weakest. The twin just felt dumb in my opinion. Alex’s British accent felt like something out of the parent trap, I mean it just felt so cartoony and I expected something a little more serious? Then again I was setting myself up for disappointment when I expected a serious tone within the show after the CeCe reveal. Another thing that was a bummer was we didn’t even see Alex in the iconic black hoodie? I mean c’mon that hoodie was a staple, every single “A” wore it! It made “A” feel and look like well “A”.
The “Dream Sequence” Flash Forward
Moving onto my next point which might be in my opinion the biggest cop out ever. Let’s dive into why. At the end of 6×10, we were introduced to a flash forward set five years later showing the liars warning Alison that “He’s Coming” for her and that they need to leave now with Spencer remarking that it’s too late. Now, fans were really intrigued as to where this was going to go and I myself wasn’t really hyped for it but I was curious what it would lead to. Still, somehow the writers managed to outdo themselves and disappoint us….big surprise. I feel the writers did a better job disappointing us than actually giving us a satisfying conclusion to half of the storylines they set up. Anyways so once we got through the second half of 6B, I questioned when this would take place, then 7A passed and still nothing on the flash forward but then we finally got it in 7×19. Well short of, it turned out to be a dream of Emily’s where she was dreaming about Alison’s ex-husband Rollins coming for her. That’s all it was a dream. No words. That is the biggest copout and the lamest way of going about it.
“It was clear they didn’t have any idea where to go with it when they claimed it would appear in 6B and didn’t appear until the second to last episode ever”The Scream king
They could’ve actually done this in a way that would of made it interesting yet they choose to go the dumbest route possible, losing their dignity as a result. I mean if you compare the flash forward scene from 6×10 and 7×19, you can tell the dialogue is different, it doesn’t match up to what we were given previously, it’s just an absolute mess. Like are you serious? It seems the writers had no idea what they we’re doing and the flash forward was basically just to tease the time jump or just have some type of hook to bring viewers back for more. Here’s the interview. Smh at least Marlene was being honest for once so there’s a positive I guess. Another fan agreed it was a copout with Five Lying B. saying “A copout, Marlene should have made it a true flash forward”.
To Sum It All Up
So we’ve reached the end of this journey of talking about why this show ended up not making sense. I’m not gonna lie I might’ve just shed a tear. Overall yeah, Pretty Little Liars, isn’t the most well written show I’ve ever watched but I will admit I did have fun while watching it up until the end. Theorizing within the fanbase made the experience more interactive, and seeing the bizarre antics that “A” would pull each week did make the show entertaining. I still think the show was poorly written and I think the writers could’ve tried harder but unfortunately I think they got so lost in the web of lies and their own plot holes they lost track as to where to take the show next. Hopefully this is something for writers to learn from and what type of situations to avoid when writing. I will give the PLL writers credit especially Marlene, for crafting a show that allowed fans to get creative with theorizing and made the show more interactive through the use of clues. Even if there were a million red herrings that pointed to literally anyone on the show being “A”. This is probably why I’m the most harsh on the PLL writers because I truly believed if they tried a bit harder they could’ve made the storylines work.
“It was the first of its kind. We had teen mysteries before but none that resonated the way PLL did”The Scream King
If they were able to come up with these mysteries and what we loved about these mysteries, then they we’re obviously capable of giving us a satisfying way of closing that arc. The only thing I won’t defend them on is Ezria’s storyline because trying to paint a student/teacher relationship in a positive light is just not okay in my opinion and it’s just gross. Sorry Ezria shippers, I don’t care for that relationship (Same goes for Emison). Just my opinion so chill. PLL had alot of potential to become one of the best mystery shows ever but missed out on the mark to due to the endless void of plot holes and unanswered questions. Oh well, the show is done and over, at least now we can sit back and look at the good times the show managed to bring us. “I truly loved the show even with all it’s faults” says Five Lying B. To an extent I do agree with what she’s saying, the show did have it’s moments but the theorizing and connecting with the fans made the experience more fun and enjoyable. Either way it’s time to move on and remember the good times despite the show being kind of being a mess.