Pretty Little Liars is an American teen drama mystery–thriller television series loosely based on the popular series of novels written by Sara Shepard. The show premiered on June 8, 2010 on ABC Family. After an initial order of 10 episodes on June 28, 2010, ABC Family ordered an additional 12 episodes for season one. These episodes began airing on January 3, 2011 and ended on March 21, 2011. The ratings success of the first 10 episodes prompted the book series to be extended beyond the initial eight novels. On March 26, 2013, ABC Family announced that a spin-off, Ravenswood, would air in October 2013. The spin-off show aired ten episodes before being canceled. In June 2014, Pretty Little Liars was renewed for its sixth and seventh seasons. On October 30, 2014, Lucy Hale announced that Season 7 will be the final season.
Main article: List of Pretty Little Liars episodes
Set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, the series follows the lives of four girls, Aria Montgomery, Hanna Marin, Emily Fields, andSpencer Hastings, whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison DiLaurentis. One year later, the estranged friends are reunited as they begin receiving messages from a mysterious figure named "A", who threatens to expose their deepest secrets, including ones they thought only Alison knew. At first, they think it's Alison herself, but after her body is found, the girls realize that someone else is planning on ruining their perfect lives.
Originally developed as a television series by book packaging company Alloy Entertainment, the idea was described as "Desperate Housewives for teens." Alloy met with author Shepard, and gave her the property to develop into a book series. With Alloy and Warner Horizon interested in producing Pretty Little Liars as a television series for years, it was first planned for The WB in 2005 with a different writer until the network shut down in early 2006 and reestablished as The CW later that year. The first novel was published by HarperTeen in October 2006. In June 2008, Alloy noted that it was developing a Pretty Little Liars television pilot for ABC Family, with the novels adapted for television. After the pilot was shot in Vancouver, filming for the rest of the series has since moved to Los Angeles. In June 2012, the series was selected by lottery for a California film and TV tax credit.
ABC Family began casting for a Pretty Little Liars television pilot in October 2009. Lucy Hale was cast as Aria Montgomery in the project, followed by Troian Bellisario and Ian Harding (as Spencer Hastings and Ezra Fitz, respectively) in November 2009. In December 2009, The Futon Critic confirmed the casting of Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin and Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, as well as the addition of Laura Leighton as Ashley Marin, Nia Peeples as Pam Fields, Roark Critchlow as Tom Marin, and Bianca Lawson as Maya. Mitchell had initially auditioned for the role of Spencer and then tried for Emily. The Hollywood Reporter also noted that Torrey DeVitto and Sasha Pieterselanded recurring roles in the pilot. The Alloy website later confirmed that Pieterse would be playing Alison DiLaurentis and DeVitto would be Melissa Hastings, also mentioning the casting of Janel Parrish as Mona Vanderwaal. On January 27, 2010, ABC Family picked up the series for 10 episodes, set to premiere in June 2010. In April 2010, the role of Aria's father Byron was recast with Chad Lowe, and Holly Marie Combs was cast as Aria's mother Ella. Jenna Marshall is played by Tammin Sursok.
On January 7, 2011, Tilky Jones was cast as Logan Reed. On April 8, 2011 Annabeth Gish was cast for the role of Anne Sullivan, a therapist who tries to find out the characters' secrets. On May 23, 2011, Andrea Parker signed up to appear as Jessica DiLaurentis, Alison's mother. On June 29, 2011, it was announced that Natalie Hall would be replacing Natalie Floyd as Hanna's soon-to-be stepsister, Kate. Series star Chad Lowe directed the tenth episode of the second season titled "Touched by an 'A'-ngel". On January 30, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Tyler Blackburn had been promoted to series regular for the third season. In March 2012, Janel Parrishwas also promoted from recurring to series regular for the third season.
Pretty Little Liars was called one of the most spectacular new shows of summer 2010 thanks to heavy promotion by ABC Family, including "spicy promos and hot posters". ABC Family encouraged fans to host a "Pretty Little Premiere Party" for the show by sending the first respondents a fan kit, and selected applicants to become part of an interactive "Secret Keeper Game" played with iPhones provided by the network. The show's official Facebook and Twitter accounts also promoted special fan features, including a "Pretty Little Lie Detector.Los Angeles department store Kitson showcased the show in their shop window.
A tie-in edition featuring the Season 1 poster and logo of the 2006 first novel in the Pretty Little Liars series was released on the date of the show's premiere, as was the final book of the original book series, "Wanted". Wanted later decidedly became the eighth book of the series, as Shepard later confirmed she would extend the series. A TV tie in of the second book "Flawless" featuring an altered Season 3 poster was released on December 28, 2010.
The theme song for Pretty Little Liars is "Secret" by The Pierces, which was suggested by one of the show's stars, Ashley Benson. The pilot episode made use of music from artists such as The Fray, Ben's Brother, MoZella, Orelia, and Colbie Caillat. The show has also featured music from Passion Pit, Pink, Florence + The Machine, Selena Gomez & the Scene, and McFly. Music from Katie Herzig can be heard multiple times throughout the show. A few songs being "Hey Na Na" and "Where the Road Meets the Sun". Madi Diaz has been heard on the show with her song "Heavy Heart", as well as Joy Williams with "Charmed Life" and Foreign Slippers with "What Are You Waiting For?". The last episode of season one featured a song by Alexz Johnson that she originally recorded for the soundtrack of the Canadian hit TV show Instant Star. On June 14, 2011, "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri was featured in the first episode of the second season. The song "Follow Suit" by Trent Dabbs has also been featured on the show. In the episode "The Perfect Storm", Lucy Hale sings a cover of the song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" by British band Fairport Convention. The official soundtrack was released on February 15, 2011.
The series follows the lives of four teenage girls - Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin, and Spencer Hastings -- whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison DiLaurentis. One year later, after the discovery of Ali's body, they begin receiving text messages from an anonymous source, "A," who threatens to expose their secrets -- including long-hidden ones they thought only their close friend Alison knew.
Cast and the Characters
=== Spencer Hastings ===
- Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) (Season 1 - present) is considered the "de facto leader" of the group. Intelligent and extremely ambitious, she strives for perfection in everything she does in an attempt to live up to the high expectations of her parents. Spencer's biggest rival is her older sister, Melissa, and the two are constantly fighting over something. Their relationship is often strained by the fact that Spencer has a habit of crushing on Melissa's boyfriends (first Ian, then Wren). Spencer feels alone at the beginning of the first season, falling for Wren, who was actually Melissa's fiancé.But later she falls in love with Jenna's stepbrother,Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen).
- Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) (Season 1 - present) is the diva and it-girl of the group, having taken Alison's place as the most popular girl at Rosewood High. Prior to Alison's death, Hanna was a bulimic girl who Alison frequently mocked for being overweight. After her parents divorced, Hanna permanently lives with her mother. She feels betrayed by her father, who has remarried, and does not get along well with his new wife and daughter, Kate. When Hanna's mother falls upon financial hardship, she steals thousands of dollars from the bank she works at, which Hanna is forced to keep a secret. She dates Caleb Rivers until Season 4, when Tyler Blackburn is moved over to the spin-off series Ravenswood. Hanna makes appearances in Ravenswood and hints that she has a physic element to herself that she doesn't realize.Caleb breaks up with her to keep her from danger.Heartbroken by this,Hannah starts dating Travis Hobbs (Luke Kleintank). Later when Caleb moves back into the Rosewood Hannah rekindles her relationship with him.
- Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) (Season 1 - present) is the "jock" of the group. A highly competitive swimmer, she is considered the star of Rosewood's swim team. She is shown as a sweet and shy character. For a short time Emily lives with Hanna, after her mother moves to Texas to live with Emily's father, who is stationed in Fort Hood. She begins to question her sexuality because of her feeling for Alison, but later accepts the fact that she is a lesbian and starts to date girls, including Maya, Samara, and Paige.
- Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) (Season 1 - present) is considered the "alternative" one of the group. She is more outgoing in fashion and what she sees as acceptable behavior. She moves back to Rosewood with her family after living in Iceland for a year. Before Alison's death, she and Alison discovered that Aria's father was having an affair with one of his former students, Meredith, who became his coworker at Hollis College. Alison encourages Aria to tell her mother the truth, but instead, Aria reluctantly agrees to keep her father's secret. On top of that, she finds herself involved with her high school English teacher, Ezra Fitz, after making out with him in a pub bathroom and discovering he was her English teacher on the first day of school. Aria was dating Noel, however, she kissed Ezra while meeting each other to talk. She also began dating someone she met, named Jake. However, she was in love with Ezra and stayed with him. Aria has currently found out that Ezra is writing a book about Alison and used her in order to uncover the mystery of who tried to kill Alison. This left Aria heartbroken and angry. She then breaks up with him, and he resigns from the school as a teacher.
- Alison Lauren DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) (Season 1 - present), was the former "Queen Bee" of her clique and the most popular girl in school before her disappearance and death. Although she cared for her friends, she enjoyed using their deepest secrets against them to keep them in line. Charming and manipulative, Alison was skilled at finding ways to blackmail everyone, and many people hated her. She knew everybody's secrets, but since she's been gone her friends are beginning to realize how little they really knew about her. She is revealed to be alive and on the run from "A". When Shana is killed, who they think was Uber "A", Ali returns to Rosewood. In the summer finale, Mona reveals that Mrs. DiLaurentis had an affair with Bethany Young's dad and Alison found out and lured Bethany to Rosewood. Mona tells Aria that she now has proof that Alison is "A". Before Mona can show the Liars the proof, "A", blonde hair flowing from her hood, breaks in a kills Mona. Alison is later seen at the Mona Vanderwaal's crime scene. She smirks and walks away, implying that Alison maybe "A" or part of the mysterious "A" team leader previously known as "Red Coat".
Main article: A (Pretty Little Liars)
"A" is the main antagonist of the series. "A" is stalking and torturing the Liars in relentless and creative ways and also threatens their friends and family. In the second season finale it is revealed that Mona is "A". She also stalked Alison before her disappearance. However, when she is sent to Radley sanitarium,someone else,nicknamed "Red Coat" (as she often wears a red coat), takes her place and creates a team of people known as the "A" team, working in tandem against the liars .
- Mona Vanderwaal: Revealed in the second season finale, Mona was the primary "A" during the first two seasons. She joined Red Coat's team in Season three but was kicked off in the finale and became a victim of "A" herself. She was later killed by "A".
- Toby Cavanaugh: Revealed in the mid-season finale of the third season, he appears to take orders from Mona. He is revealed to be a double agent in the third season finale.
- Spencer Hastings: Revealed in the third season, in the episode right before the finale. Mona visits her in Radley and convinces her to join the team. It is later revealed that she joined to find info on Toby.
Pretty Little Liars premiered on June 8, 2010 the United States, becoming ABC Family's highest-rated series debut on record across the network's target demographics. It ranked number one in key 12–34 demos and teens, becoming the number-one scripted show in Women 18–34, and Women 18–49. The premiere was number two in the hour for total viewers, which generated 2.47 million unique viewers, and was ABC Family's best delivery in the time slot since the premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
The second episode retained 100% of its premiere audience with 2.48 million viewers, despite the usual downward trend following a premiere of a show, and built on its premiere audience. It was the dominant number one of its time slot in Adults 18–49, and the number one show in female teens. Subsequent episodes fluctuated between 2.09 and 2.74 million viewers. The August 10, 2010 "Summer Finale" episode drew an impressive 3.07 million viewers.
On June 28, 2010, ABC Family ordered 12 more episodes of the show, bringing its total first-season order to 22. On January 10, 2011, ABC Family picked the show up for a second season that premiered on June 14, 2011. During the summer of 2011, Pretty Little Liars was basic cable's top scripted series in women aged 18–34 and viewers 12–34. The second half of season 2 aired on Mondays at 8/7c, beginning on January 2, 2012.
On November 29, 2011, ABC Family renewed the show for a third season, which consisted of 24 episodes. On 4 October 2012, ABC Family announced that the show was renewed for a fourth season, again comprising 24 episodes. The second half of the third season began airing on January 8, 2013 and finished March 19, 2013. Pretty Little Liars returned for Season 4 on June 11, 2013. On March 25, 2013, It was again announced that Pretty Little Liars had been renewed for a fifth season scheduled for a 2014 air date and a new spin off show entitled Ravenswood that will began airing after the season four annual Halloween special in October 2013. The second half of season four premiered on January 7, 2014. It was announced on June 10, 2014 that Pretty Little Liars was renewed for two seasons, making the show ABC Family's longest running original hit series.
Pretty Little Liars opened with initially mixed critical reviews, although the series has gotten more positive critique over its progression. Metacritic gave the pilot episode 52 out of 100, based upon 14 critical reviews. The New York Daily News gave the show a positive review, commenting that it "makes most popular vampire romances look anemic", while concluding, "Pretty Little Liars could go in several directions, including mundane teen clichés. It's got an equally good shot at making us care about these imperfect pretty girls." A writer on Terror Hook has stated that " 'Pretty Little Liars' gets off to a very promising start. Great production all around, the writing keeps the viewer on their toes, and the acting just reinforces it. The overall mystery of the show in the end is dark and unpredictable, even stepping into the slasher film realm." The New York Post gave the show three out of five stars, stating, "OK, so we've established that there is no socially redeeming value in this series and that your kids shouldn't watch it if they are too young and impressionable. But if you can distract them enough to miss the first 15 minutes, the show isn't half-bad. Actually, it is half-good, if that makes sense." The Los Angeles Times wrote that the series is "one of those shows that manages to mildly, and perhaps unintentionally, spoof its genre while fully participating in it, and that's not a bad thing at all."
Entertainment Weekly had a less favorable review, giving the show a letter grade of D-, saying, "Imagine the pitch for Liars: It's I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Gossip Girl, but like not so subtle. The new ABC Family drama, based on the popular young-adult book series about a high school clique whose missing leader continuously causes problems and she ends up dead comes back to haunt them via locker-room notes, IMs, and text messages, hits every racy teentertainment mark so hard (everyone's hair is so full—of secrets!) that it feels like the only thing missing is a visit from the ghosts of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze, Jr." The Hollywood Reporter compared the show to those on The CW and noted, "Sure, there's a lot here that sustains more eye-rolling than interested stares, but a little patience might be warranted."
Since the series premiere, the show has remained popular. The series earned its highest rated episode with 4.22 million total viewers, ranking among ABC Family's top 5 telecasts in adult viewers 18 - 34, total viewers and women viewers. The highest rated episodes include season one's finale, with 3.64 million, and season two's premiere and finale episodes, each yielding nearly 3.7 million viewers. The show stands as the most watched series on ABC Family, maintaining a steady viewership of over 2.5 million and currently standing as the only show to yield an average of over 2 million viewers.