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

Pilot Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (107 Votes)

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

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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.