60 minutes

"Pretty Little Liars" follows four estranged best friends who are reunited a year after the leader of their clique goes missing, only to realize that they're all receiving anonymous messages from someone who knows all their secrets.
Dec 21, 2015 9:47AM EST

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Based on the Sara Shepard book series of the same name, Pretty Little Liars kicked off during the summer of 2010, doing the oft-impossible. Its numbers actually went slightly up for its second episode! Yes, there was nothing hotter on ABC Family than these four girls in a small town with a very large secret. With the first finale numbers topping 3 million, ABC Family struck television gold, and they struck it in all the right demos.

Many have made adult allusions to Desperate Housewives because of the noir tone, the mystery backbone and four women at the center, and I’d have to concur. For all the reasons that I adored season one’s DH storyline of why Mary Alice committed suicide, I fell head first into the unraveling of why Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer’s friend Alison died and who the mystifying “A” could be.

There hasn’t been a teen show so dark and intriguing, in my opinion, since season one of Veronica Mars. (It doesn’t hold a candle; VMars is bible, folks.) But it has certainly proven a contender, and somehow I wasn’t endlessly annoyed that the mystery wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty, little bow at the end of the summer season.

Normally, I can’t stand a long, drawn out mystery, but if done properly, I get pleasure from sitting on the edge of my seat, week after week. (See: Lost) Pretty Little Liars does just that, though I could do without the overdone teacher-student love story.


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