If You’re Not Watching Pretty Little Liars, You Should Be!

-ABC Family

ABC Family’s smash hit Pretty Little Liars is heading towards its August 30th summer finale at breakneck speed, and if you (yes, you) haven’t jumped aboard for the ride, here’s ten reasons why you should.

1. PLL passes the Bechdel Test and then some. Young women in Rosewood talk to each other about more than just boy troubles; they trust each other, they get embroiled in drama together, and even the conflicts between the girls don’t involve men. Not a single one of them is competing for the same guy.

2. One of the titular Liars isn’t even into guys! Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is a strong, well-rounded, principal character who comes out as gay. She grows throughout the seasons and becomes the only character to really play the Fields er, field romantically — rather than languishing in a de-sexualized, star-crossed pair-up (that honor belongs to the adorable Lucy Hale‘s oft islanded Aria).

3. Spencer. Frakking. Hastings. Troian Bellisario‘s scarily intense Spencer is like Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars had a baby and then bottle-fed her on espresso.

4.  The mysterious “A” is one of the most effective supervillains on TV right now. Whether it’s one person or a group behind the antics, there is NO escaping A. Just when you think A can’t possibly be that omnipresent, that dangerous, something crazy or terrible happens. And his/her stunts are also cruel, playing on the girls’ insecurities and secrets. Making the formerly overweight Hanna eat a box full of cupcakes is just a regular day at the office for A!

5. The stakes are high. Although the viewer can be pretty sure that the core four are safe from permanent removal from the opening credits, the show doesn’t shy away from the dire threats the characters face. Hanna and Emily land in the hospital, Spencer becomes a suspect and is attacked, and Aria… okay, nothing really happens to Aria that doesn’t involve her inappropriate yet bland love affair, but, hey, there’s always hope that she’ll get an equal dose of A’s wrath.

6. Smart-mouthed shoplifter Hanna has a wonderful arc, showcasing Ashley Benson‘s strength as an actress, but one of the best parts of the character is her relationship with her mom. Hanna’s mom has got it going on. Laura Leighton leads a stellar adult cast, imbuing Ashley Marin with both compassion and badassery. She’s the best parent on the show — who’dathunk that you could say that about Sydney from Melrose Place?

7. PLL lends itself well to drinking games. You can take a shot every time Ian creeps creepily, Jason mentions his addiction, Hanna spouts a malapropism, Ezra and Aria stare into each other’s eyes, someone from a daytime soap opera pops up, etc.

8. As if A wasn’t menacing enough, there’s Tammin Sursok‘s blind and highly self-sufficient (and also passive aggressive and predatory) Jenna Marshall, who can make the most innocuous things creepy. i.e. playing the flute, collecting snow globes, buying lingerie for her secret lover…oh, wait. The Slap Heard ‘Round Rosewood was a highlight of season one.

9. The Little Liars really are Pretty! This show is shot, costumed and cast exceptionally! If you’re not already compelled by the friendship and the mystery (dude, what’s wrong with you people?), at least delight in the eye candy. The girls are gorgeous, the boys are cute. The denizens of Rosewood are very well turned out!

-ABC Family

10. Alison DiLaurentis, the murder victim at the epicenter of the intrigue, is as compelling as Lilly Kane and Laura Palmer were before her — and a hundred times more Machiavellian. It’s particularly brilliant, and disturbing, since Sasha Pieterse is so young. You’re seeing a real 15/16-year-old frolic with older boys and effortlessly force her friends to dance to her tune like they’re puppets on a string. Alison’s present in a very chilling way and, because of that, just as influential over Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily as the ubiquitous A.

If you’ve written Pretty Little Liars off as Gossip Girl lite, dismissed it because you think ABC Family is wholesome and preachy (it’s SO not; don’t judge the network by the 700 Club, which it is contractually obligated to keep airing), or think it’s something only a 15-year-old would enjoy, you really don’t know what you’re missing! It’s actually funny to go back and read my initial impressions of the show, because I obviously loved it from the get-go, but had some very different views — about Aria and Spencer, in particular!

Seriously, people: Catch up On Demand, Netflix it, download it, drain your family coffers to get your hands on it. PLL is the summer season’s best show!

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