When I started watching Pretty Little Liars, I imagined it would be a harmless diversion, the kind of show I would tune into for kicks and then lie about watching to my more highbrow friends. And okay, ABC Family’s soapy teen mystery is kind of ridiculous. But somewhere over the course of its first season, Pretty Little Liars became can’t-miss television, with enough gasp-worthy reveals, double-crossing, and unsolved mysteries to keep me glued to the TV. It’s kind of like Lost, but with teenage girls instead of plane crash survivors, and a sleepy suburban town instead of an island. Work with me here.
Call it fluffy nonsense if you must, but Pretty Little Liars is honestly one of the most complicated shows on television. And like Lost—if you’ll pardon the continued comparison—all of the answers lead to more questions. It’s maddening to watch as a viewer, but also immensely pleasurable: You know you’re not going to see all the loose ends tied up until the series finale, and even then, that’s not a given. But if you’re patient, you can enjoy the slow burn of the secrets, the shock of the plot twists, and yes, even the sheer perplexity of each episode’s head-scratching final moments.
“What do you want from me?” Jenna asked the four core characters in Monday night’s season finale. “The truth,” Hanna answered. “Can you handle that?” Evidently not: The episode jerked us around incessantly, asserting itself as the series’ most dizzying installment to date. Alison was blackmailing Jenna with footage of Jenna coercing her stepbrother Toby into sex. At least, that’s Jenna’s story—later in the episode, she appeared to be linked with Ian, who may or may not be Alison’s killer, and Garrett, who’s definitely one of the bad cops. Is everyone in on this plot? And which one of these manipulators is “A”?
The questions don’t stop there. Who was spying on the girls of Rosewood? If Ian said he shoved Alison, did someone else strangle her? Who pushed Ian to his death? And if he’s not dead, how did he escape? What is Jenna’s connection to Ian and Garrett? And what is her ultimate goal? Did Melissa’s baby survive the accident? Were Lucas and Caleb in the car that crashed into Spencer’s?
Sorry, I got a little carried away. Realistically, most of these questions aren’t likely to be answered anytime soon—especially since Pretty Little Liars’s second season doesn’t premiere until June. So, you know, it's probably best not to drive oneself crazy with half-cocked theories.
Look, I’m as surprised as you are that I’ve become this emotionally invested in a mystery series geared toward teen girls, but I challenge you to find another current show as consistently mind-blowing. It’s not Lost. It’s not even Veronica Mars. But Pretty Little Liars is that special cracktastic joy that makes my week complete, and I look forward to all the “OMG,” “WTF,” and “LOL” moments to come.
“It’s not over until I say it is,” “A” promised. “Sleep tight while you still can, bitches.” I’ll do my best.