Despite how easy shows like “the Hills” and “Gossip Girl” often make it look, reaching a younger audience and maintaining that core audience, is not always easy. Especially since television executives sometimes think that the more drama, sex and beautiful starlets they shove down your throat, the better the ratings are. On paper this formula may seem to be the key to creating primetime television that captures that young audience but, there’s so much more to it. Characters that people can connect to, story lines that people actually need to think about and decent, standard production value are a big factor in making a quality show that reaches the youth. All of these things are lacking in the ABC Family show, “Pretty Little Liars.”
Like “Gossip Girl,” “Pretty Little Liars” was adapted from a popular young adult book series. Unlike “Gossip Girl,” it does not make a smooth transition from the pages of a book to your television set. The show is so crammed with weird flashbacks and a soundtrack that sounds like Z100’s 9 at 9 (although there are way more than 9 songs featured on this premiere episode,) that it’s hard to watch. The flashbacks are unnecessary since the story line is so simplistic that we can pretty much figure out what is going on without needing to see into the past. The soundtrack is all over the place. Instead of using it to set the mood the way most shows use it, the soundtrack is really just used to make people watching go “HEY! IS THIS ONE REPUBLIC PLAYING!?”
In the opening episode four girls lose their best friend. Suddenly they start receiving texts from their dead friend claiming that she still knows all their deepest secrets. Right away, one can’t help but wonder how many seasons of a TV show anyone could get out of this topic. Isn’t it only a matter of time before we figure out who exactly “A” is? Especially since our main characters are Juniors in high school. I’m sure once they are off to college, in less than two years, no one will care about “A” or her secrets anymore. And once “A” is figured out, I’m pretty sure there’s no where else for this show to go.
The acting on the show does nothing to help it’s cause. While I was impressed that Bianca Lawson, aka Megan on “Saved by the Bell: the New Class,” was still able to play a teenager; the young ensemble cast is bland and emotionless. Even in her most emotional moments, Aria played by Lucy Hale, does nothing to captivate the audience. Being young and pretty on a new, stylish show is the easy part. Whether we like to admit this or not, becoming the icons that Blair Waldorf and Lauren Conrad have become is the hard part.
I understand that pilot episodes can be rough at first, but for this show, there are no signs of smooth road ahead. So much needs to be improved upon. From the soundtrack, to the acting, to the choppy story lines… it is all a bit of a mess. The biggest thing that needs to be improved? The show’s assumption that the audience watching must be dumb and vapid. I think better television gets made when you assume the audience is worthy of something more intelligent.