Pretty Little Liars Review: This Summer's Guilty Pleasure

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It looks like I've found my guilty pleasure for the summer.

Granted, there were a few things wrong with this week's pilot episode of Pretty Little Liars. But this new ABC Family drama isn't meant for anyone seeking the next Emmy winner. It's classic escapism, and it's hard to imagine anyone tuning in last night and not being curious to see where the series will go next.

In order to review the episode, let's go through each of the main characters we met...

Aria: As someone who watched Lucy Hale on Bionic Woman, portraying the show's little sister, it's almost disturbing to watch her so grown up. Then again, it could be more troubling: I could be the teacher that just made out with her.

Probably the most well-rounded of the core four on the premiere; she seems legitimately torn up about Alison's disappearance and her dad's infidelity. Who wouldn't react to such events by making out with the cute, older guy at the bar?

Hanna: I'll be interested to see more of her as the picked-on friend in flashbacks. Upon first glance, she came across as the typical, self-centered queen bee... but the show hinted at there being a lot more to this girl, considering her one-sided relationship with Alison and the issues she appears to have with body image.

I'm Here, Bitches!

Emily: Hard to put a finger on this character right now. She was rushed into a strange friendship with new neighbor Maya, including clear hints at there being more than just platonic feelings on each side. It would have been nice to have developed each of these gals more before going there, but it's a pilot episode. The show is clearly trying to throw as much as possible as viewers so we'll stick around.

Spencer: Similarly, her storyline with her sister's fiance seems rushed. We saw him on screen for about two seconds before he just started giving Spencer a massage.

But this did tie in nicely with the secret Alison supposedly knows about her friend, and that was an appeal of the episode all-around: Alison didn't just send each girl a message. She referred to specific incidents from the past or character traits that leave us curious to learn more.

And, seriously, what is the Jenna thing?!?

With veteran, older actors on board (Laura Leighton, Chad Lowe, Holly Marie Combs), I've also confident Pretty Little Liars will give us layered adults that serve as more than just sounding boards for their kids.

We already saw that with Hanna's mom, in the most overt example of the show trying to shove too much down our throats at once. Couldn't it have found a more subtle way to hint at Mrs. Benson trading sex for her daughter's freedom? Perhaps Hanna finding the detective's badge in the bathroom the next morning? It was rather ridiculous to have the pair just start going at it in plain sight.

Still, as I said before, many premieres throw a lot out there in order to set up characters for viewers. This episode offered up enough juicy nuggets and intrigue to give it Series Recording status on my DVR.

How about you? What did you think? Check out a few Pretty Little Liars quotes from the pilot and comment away!

A: I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything. | permalink
Wren: You probably have a fluid build-up in your bursa sack.
Spencer: You probably say that to all the girls. | permalink
Spencer: You know what they say about hope. It breeds eternal misery. | permalink
Emily: We all know she's dead, right?
Aria: Right. I just never heard anyone say it. | permalink
Spencer: She's gone, but she's everywhere. | permalink
Maya: If you're a big jock, does that mean you'd kill me if I smoked a little weed? | permalink


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (106 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


You know what? I've never read the books and never really even heard of them before the show. But I just wanted to give the show a chance, because there are not many good shows on during the summer. I found myself very entertained, and interested to see what will happen next. I wasn't expecting much acting wise, and they so didn't deliver. Most of them can not act! But the stories and drama are going to keep me watching. Love the theme song too! It's awesome! 4/5 from me.


great episode...can't wait for the whole series and how true they stay to the books! i love the books sooo much! im on "wicked" fun fact::: ian harding (ezra fitz) is one year younger than lucy hale (aria)! lol he's supposed to be the teacher and be like 5 years older! and the girl who plays spencer was born in 86!!! so olld for a 16 year old. like 11 years differnce. 16 year olds should have been born in 1993!!!!! LOL i no they use older actors like in gossip girl, but c'mon alison whoes playing 15 ..her real age is 13! she was born in 1996! its never the same age, either older or younger! ahhhh lol cnt wait till next week!!!


lol, I'm so glad I don't know the book cause I think comparing it to them would totally ruin it for me. But the way it is, I just loooove the show and c/w for next week - an amazing way to get through the long summer of no series


I wasn't impressed. There was no suspense when it came to the romantic relationships at all. Ezra fell madly in love with Aria enough to risk his job for reasons they didn't feel were necessary to reveal to the viewers. Emily fell for Maya 12 seconds after they met... come on. Spencer's sister's boyfriend fell for Spencer the moment they met... Could we have gotten a little development? All of this overshadowed the mystery for me.


Well geez Taylor, way to give a spoiler with no warning. And if judging from that quote alone, that doesn't really matter...he could just say "a blonde and a brunette" instead


I never read the books, so im wondering if im missing out on something here, but from the pilot I didn't find the series to be that good. There were just too many moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, such as the almost pedophile-like school teacher. Aria obviously looked underage, but somehow the teacher didn't suspect anything and she was allowed to sit at the bar? Or the fact that he is still attempting to pursue a relationship with a girl he just met that would ruin his career. Or the fact that the cops would really go through all that trouble to apprehend a girl who may have taken a pair of sunglasses by going through the security cameras and then what, just start asking around if anyone knows her? (not sure if they actually do that). I also would want to assume that these girls would want to catch their friend's killer, instead of being busy hiding their secrets, which so far seem pretty minor in comparsion - maybe it'll become bigger secrets later on. The acting is okay for young actresses in some pretty deep drama, but i guess i was hoping for a bit better. That's probably why alot of shows hire older actors. But i recall shows like Beverly hills 90210, and Buffy the vampire slayer had some pretty decent acting even in their younger cast. So my conclusion, i've probably stepped out of the age range that can enjoy a show like this without being highly critical. Although I love the atmosphere and tone of the show, so im thinking there will be people who do enjoy it. It might even get better later on, so I'm not counting out rewatching it again later on - especially with very few things to watch in summer.


the first episod was amazing. yea they tried to rush it, but they wanted to get more info in so that we wouldnt get cofused and stop watching it. id rather them have put a lot of info than just little bits of everyones "secret". i mean you have to remember that there are 4 girls, meaning there are gonna be 4 different stories to follow. i knew they rushed and crammed as much to this one episode as they could but they did it well. it wasnt just a big blob of information. either way im still gonna watch all the episodes. i just set my tv to record them lol. i dont want to miss out and im surious to see what "the jenna thing" is. i cant wait to find out.


Mona is described of having blonde hair too and that is important later in the series, too.


i feel a little disappointed...
the thing that bothers me the most was that they didn't even show evidence of hanna's bullimia, which was a BIG deal in the books. also in the books she stole jewelry from tiffany's, not a pair of sunglasses. i just kept comparing everything to the books. the end was kinda corny too, with them reading the text outloud. i will be watching next week, hopefully the next episode will be better.


I couldn't resist googling about the Jenna thing and I don't think it's very interesting. Like only Allison would care about that coming out. And I hope they change the "killer"

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Pretty Little Liars Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Ezra: I'd like to know more about you.
Aria: I'd like to know more about you, too.

Friends share secrets. That's what keeps us close.