"Got a secret, can you keep it?
Swear this one you'll save
Better lock it in your pocket
Taking this one to the grave
If I show you then I know you won't tell what I said
'Cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."
You would have to be deliberately ignorant of pop culture for the past six years if you haven't heard of ABC Family (turned Freeform)'s mega hit, "Pretty Little Liars."
The show, which has ran an hour once a week for seven mind-blowing seasons so far, was a fail proof formula for tween/teen obsession from the get-go. Four exceptionally pretty girls! Unthinkable sins! A presumably dead friend of theirs who had the intellect and manipulation of a comic book villain hidden under the ubiquitous charm and honey colored hair of the traditional high school popular girl!
The four girls were bound together by the most irrevocable of constraints: secrets and lies. They all had hidden parts of themselves that ensured thorough character development, that was arguably the most eloquently executed in teen-drama history (Even the show's closest rivalry, the phenomenon that was "Gossip Girl," couldn't compete with ensuring each main character was as dynamic as the PLL front runners were, *cough, Nate Archibald's character, cough*.)
In Season One, their personal secrets were clear: Aria was hooking up with her English teacher, Emily was a closeted lesbian, Spencer, the all star student, was a drug addict, and Hanna was a recovering bulimic and thief.
With each passing season, the show grew up, right along with its mass millions of audience members. I was eleven when the show first aired, captivated by it's haunting opening monologue and the girls' mysterious past. I'm almost nineteen now, and I'm glad that I've been watching since the very beginning.
The mastermind that was "A" was arguably dragged out, as season finales came and went with the empty promise that we'd finally determine who "A" really was, and then there was "Big A" and now, "Uber A." But through the confusion that was, at times, messy, fans kept tuning in every week because we were hooked; in love, even.
Which is saying a lot. Is any small detail of the show's plot realistic (besides, as mentioned, the girls' personal growth)? Jenna being blinded and hooking up with her step brother? Toby becoming a high ranking police officer directly after he graduated high school? Caleb being a hacker genius? Ali coming back to life after being in hiding with her brother turned sister that turns out to be her cousin CeCe Drake? The dollhouse shenanigans? All of the murders? (And these are only mere details that I can remember off the top of my head!)
Not to mention that Hanna miraculously got Ivy League worthy SAT scores equal to Spencer's, Aria's teacher boyfriend (who would be weird and predatory in real life) secretly writes a book about their lives and is completely forgiven, and the town where every near impossible scheme, murder, or plan gone wrong takes place is named something as dreamy and mysterious as "Rosewood."
The show is a bit of a dream, though. It's a teen soap-opera, and we don't get a lot of those. Shows aimed at a 13-19 demographic are generally overdone, cringe-worthy Disney ventures or raunchy MTV comedies like "Awkward." "Pretty Little Liars" is a smooth, much needed middle ground that stood well on its own two feet.
Like any note worthy show, it has influenced and inspired a generation since it's birth in 2010. Since then, millions of people have monitored the show obsessively, from crafting Halloween costumes, to producing YouTube videos, to dedicating in-depth Tumblr accounts to popular conspiracy theories.
In it's running, which is perhaps inching towards an inevitable end, (Realistically, how many "A"'s can there be before the show loses substance?) "Pretty Little Liars" was a forefront in leaving an impression on people, millennials, primarily, and they did a pretty damned good job.
The characters, fiercely loyal and career driven and impeccably dressed, are, for as unrealistic as their circumstances may be at times, raw. They're real. They have emotions and they make mistakes. They're empathetic, they get heartbroken, and, at times, they get furious at "A" or at each other.
"Pretty Little Liars" covers a lot of ground in terms of stirring conversations on social issues. Emily struggled with her sexuality before she came out, just as Spencer relapses periodically and Hanna would have flashbacks indicative of her eating disorder. While fearing for your life and running from "A" isn't something the average teenager can relate to, those things are 100% real issues.
I dread the show's eventual end, which I fear will be soon, as it will be a time where I won't look forward to one of the girls shushing the camera with wide eyes and perfect hair every week as I wait for a new episode to start. The notorious front runner, Marlene King, has promised twists and turns until the very end. I think it's safe to say she won't disappoint.