woensdag 25 juli 2012

Caught in a web of PLL

I started watching the show Pretty Little Liars because I knew Holly Marie Combs played in it. I was curious to know what she was doing now. After Charmed that is. And it turned out the be pretty awesome. So here's a short review of the show so far. But first: a promo!

'Got a secret. Can you keep it?'
The show is based on popular books by the same name, written by Sara Shepard, and focuses on a group of friends in high school. These young girls, Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily, were brought together by their friend Allison. Allison, or Alli, is the most popular of the bunch and one night when they are all together in a lake house (from Spencer's parents), she disappears. A year later the girls have driven apart - 'Friendly, but not friends' - and right before the body of Allison is found, they start getting text messages from someone calling his/herself "A". It soon becomes clear that "A" knows a lot about them and threatens to expose their secrets if the girls don't do as he/she says. These secrets are secrets from a long time ago, that only Alli would know about. But even after Alli's funeral, the girls keep recieving texts, so the big question is... who's "A"????

This one you'll save
Pretty Little Liars is a show to save. Like the theme song will tell, it's a show where teenage girls have big secrets. In the first episode a lot of the old secrets - the ones Alli knew about - will be revealed to the audience, but not to the rest of the group. The more secrets you know about, the more you will find out about their personalities. Intrigued yet?
But there's another interesting storyline: the death - more specifically murder - of Allison DeLaurentis. The girls start their own investigation, after getting some clues from "A"... This is an ongoing storyline which leads to many more questions, without losing interest. The secrets and storylines get more absurd the farther you get in the show/seasons. It makes one thing really clear, that it's total fiction. It's fun to see these absurd storylines play out and get beyond your imagination. From crazy love interests who the girls don't trust and some of the time fear, to the mistery about Alli's murder involving more and more people. Full on paranoia, but then again... Who wouldn't be paranoid, when there's a crazy anonymous person harassing you? You don't know who you can trust, and that's the same for the audience. Even though you may sometimes know a little more then the characters, there's a lot you don't know. 

Lock it, in your pocket
These four girls (and actually also their parents and/or boyfriends) have their own secrets for each other. It keeps it interesting and divers, because that way a lot of stories can be told. Fortunatly they don't all last very long. There's someone that finds out, or one of the girls can't take it anymore and decides to tell either a parent or a friend. But keeping a secret, means having to lie sometimes. So there's a question that will keep coming up in the viewers mind: Why not just tell someone? A parent? The police maybe? Good question! They ask it themselves a couple of times. You will get frustrated, because it seems so stupid to not just do it. They are teenagers after all, so what do they know about murder or all this blackmailing? These are things for the cops. But they feel like they can't tell the truth to anyone. And to be fair... yes, there's a legitimate reason for that (or at least as legitimate as there can be). That would be that "A" is freaking scary. The girls get caught in a web of lies, of which there is probably no way out anymore, because it gets way to tangled. All these secrets and the lying causes problems in relationships, especially in the parental form. A lot of parents will know it when their daughter is lying and they will get frustrated, grounding them and what not. It's kind of typical high school, teenager stuff, but because of their big and out of the ordinary secrets, also not entirely. Of course - the girls being teenagers and all - the parents do get involved and they start asking questions. It makes the storylines a little better, but the girls' lips remain sealed...

Take it to the grave
The threatening texts are send by mobile phone, notes or they recieve e-mails. The number is untraceble, because it's 'unknown'. That's why the "A" could stand for Allison in the first episode, but it later becomes clear that it's really an anonymous person. The use of cell phones in this way is very clever, because who doesn't have one now a days? It shows the darker side of modern technology. Namely the power it can give someone. This power has also been displayed by Allison herself in flashbacks. She used to be the 'It-girl' and could persuade anyone to do anything. Not just her four friends, but also other people at school, or even grown-ups. Talk about peer pressure and blackmail! In the first episode she mentions that secrets are what keeps friends close. She is the one person that knows about all of their secrets (until she dies) and she used that information when she wanted to. It could be what let to her murder... But then again, how will we know that? Without given too many spoilers away, it's safe to say that the storyline gets more complicated as we go along. It makes us understand the boyfriends that much better, because they aren't in the know as well. 

If I show you, then I know...
Talking about boyfriends.... there's a lot to say about the love stories. They go back and forth, due to the threats from "A". The girls push their boyfriends back, without telling them why, but teenage love is a thing that will not be denied. Their love won't go away, and so won't their boys. Or in Emily's case girls... (Yep, she's a lesbian... it's not a big spoiler, don't worry).
The girls get worried about dating, they take the jump, get scared and pull away. Leaving the boys hanging and in serious need of an explanation, which the girls can't give them. But it's not all bad. The boyfriends are sweet and understanding (of course they have a right to an explanation) and they actually turn out to be helpful a lot of the time. They also have their own backstory, which makes them more interesting. Except for Ezra, Aria's boyfriend, or lover... well, he's her teacher. Why is it that nowadays every high school series has a love story involving a teacher and a student? I don't get it. That's what gets old real fast. Ezra and Aria go back and forth, because it's illegal to be together, because there's the age difference, because Aria couldn't tell her parents (or in the beginning her friends), because... well, there's a lot more. They end up breaking up and getting back together a lot of the time. It's supposed to be this epic love story, but it's just annoying. If there's one thing they should change in the series the upcoming season, it's that. 

Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead
But who killed Alli? That remains the big question. And that person is the one in the black hoodie. You see this person at the end of a lot of episodes, preparing something to affect the girls. You don't see a face... sometimes just gloves. But as the girls get closer to finding out the identity, you see a full on person in a black hoodie that keeps to the shadows or the dark. It's pretty clear that this person is "A", but you don't get the satisfaction of knowing it for sure. What a mystery!
It never stops being intriguing, though they sometimes go a little overboard. And the moments where all of their cellphones ring at the same time, never stops being fun. All in all, it's a good show to watch, with extra's such as having Holly Marie Combs (as Aria's mother) and Bianca Lawson (as Maya - Kendra on Buffy) on the cast. I'm not sure where they go from here, but for now I'm still caught in their web of Pretty, Little, Liars.
(a nice tribute of Holly Marie Combs)

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