Pretty Little Liars premiered on June 10, 2010. Based on the novel series by Sara Shepard, the series follows five friends, Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Emily Fields, and Hannah Marin as they navigate their lives after the disappearance of their best friend and group leader Alison DiLaurentis. One year later, the now estranged friends are reunited as they begin receiving messages from a mysterious villain named “A” who threatens and tortures them for the mistakes they have made before and after Alison was alive.
Originally, the show was only ordered for 10 episodes but once Freeform (ABC Family back then) knew what a hit they had on their hands they had picked the series up for a full season by ordering 12 more episodes on June 28th, 2010. Since then the mega series has shattered the glass ceiling on what it means to be a social media powerhouse. The show promotional strategy through season one is something every show with this demographic should be jealous of. It was a genius the interaction they had with their fans throughout the first season. Sending fan kits, interactive iPhone “Secret Keeper Game” for fans, and event the shows Facebook and Twitter gave special fan features to its followers. When the stars of the show joined social media there was no catching this show. It was on a speeding train and no one was going to stop it. Pretty Little Liars INVENTED what it means to love a show and interact with its stars at the same time. Q&A’s with the show’s creator Marlene King and PLL with Shay during live broadcasts made the show the most tweeted show in television history. According to FreeForm back in 2015, the show had the most engaged audience with over 8.5 million followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr combined. Incredible.
This show had it all for me the drama, teenage angst and the mystery that kept you on the edge of your seat. I cried when the girls went through tough times, I screamed at my TV when Mona went coo coo for Team A puffs, and I went all Tyra Banks when Toby was revealed to be helping the A team (I TRUSTED YOU TOBY!). Countless memories of mine are associated with this series and I was with it every step of the way. I was bullied in high school and I went through some pretty tough times with my best friends but when I made it to Tuesday I knew I would make it through the day no matter what problem presented itself because I knew this cast and these stories would pull me out of my worst days.
Like all of you, I have watched these girls grow up and flourish in their personal and professional lives.
Sasha Pieterse is an incredible actress. Honestly, no one will ever master the art of a high school queen bee like her. Alison had outstanding character growth. Arguably the best growth on the show. The dead mean girl who wasn’t actually dead ended up being someone who learned to love how to be vulnerable, and most importantly how to love herself. Sasha now engaged, is just a sparkling old soul. I know for a fact wherever her career takes her next I’m there in a heartbeat to support it.
Shay Mitchell the sweet girl from Canada who first came onto my screen from a role on Degrassi and then Rookie Blue. I knew this girl had the IT factor right away. What a damn privilege to watch her character Emily Fields. Emily grew and flourished not only in confidence but also in her sexuality. Emily Fields story line has helped countless LGBT youth be comfortable with themselves and find the courage that has always been inside them. Her loyalty has always been something to admire on the show. There’s just something about Emily Fields that makes you feel like no matter what happens you can feel safe, at ease and feel like you’re home. Shay now being a complete boss on social media has Shaycations and motivations to get up and exercise. Please just remember that she is Beyoncé…always.
Ashley Benson the gorgeous blonde who got her practice at a mean girl clique when she was in 13 Going on 30. I’ve watched almost every movie of her’s growing up including Bring It On: In It To Win It. As far as Hannah Marin goes I think she has had the most transformations physically. From Hefty Hannah to popular shoplifter, to regular Hannah, to goth-black hair inserts, and to finally the golden era of Hannah. Hannah has had the best one-liners in the entire series but please do not call Hannah dumb. She has a unique quirk that I crave to have around. She is one of my favorite characters and Ashley seems like the coolest person to be around. Ashley’s future continues to be bright and after seeing her in Pixels I’m so down for her to take a huge action film. Kick ass Ashley Benson for the win.
Lucy Hale may be pint size but she’s always been a mighty force. She’s got quite the resume and is maybe the sweetest spirit I’ve ever seen. Aria Montgomery is a whole different character. I have loved just seeing Aria’s style and wardrobe grow throughout the series. Pink hair and all Aria has always had an edge. She’s been on an unpredictable roller coaster ride and has come off the ride an independent brave woman. I am already excited for Lucy’s new show “Life Sentence” to air. It’s going to be hard to let go of Aria Montgomery but I’m ready to let in the new character Lucy brings me.
Troian Bellisario, how do I even start? There are so many adjectives to use but I think my favorite thing about her is her grace. She is the one that I was least familiar with going into this series but coming out of this show she is my favorite. I love everything about her as a person and Spencer Hastings is my favorite PLL character. I always wanted to be smart like Spencer. I had the sporty side down but the smarts were something I always strived for. Spencer has been through the ringer in this series. In and out of the nuthouse and watching her family crumble. I relate to her the most. Spencer may be the smartest out of the girls but she still learned a lot on her journey through the series. She feels like the big sister to all the other liars and I feel like she swapped roles with Alison. She hid under the shadow of her family name, her sister, and Alison all her life and in the end, she found herself. Troian is my inspiration for my everyday life. I want to learn from her and be just like her. Her creative mind is something I envy and I am blown away by her directorial debut. There is not a doubt in my mind that I will be seeing this girl winning awards for her films in the future. Whether she is in front of behind the camera she is an artist that just slays!
In conclusion, this show is MASSIVE. It has broken records and won many awards. Pretty Little Liars paved the way for television on social media and defined what it means for fans to be interactive with their favorite show. Once in a blue moon, we see a show like this come along.
So now that it is done, how do you and I say goodbye to Pretty Little Liars? The answer is simple. We don’t.
We keep it close to our hearts and we remember it forever. We have to quote Spencer and Winnie The Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” We are the lucky ones. We are the Pretty Little Liars legacy. Twenty years down the road a young tween may ask me, “What are some good shows that you watched back then?” I’m going to look over at my library of series and find my Pretty Little Liars collection and then I’m going to smile because I get to share my love of this show to new generations. I hope you do the same.