How Pretty Little Liars changed TV

When Pretty Little Liars premiered in 2010 it was an easy show to dismissed. Similarities to Gossip Girl and the OC with an all-powerful online persona and a cast of ridiculously attractive people, seven seasons on and Pretty Little Liars has transformed into a global phenomenon changing the way we think about TV.

The millennial triumph

The books were originally set in 2006 and easily weaved in their mid-00s settings Pretty Little Liars followed suit by updating their setting to 2010. Now for all those that can think as far back as 2010 will remember it was a weird time for contemporary set TV. Most shows were quietly ignoring the large part that technology had to play in the daily lives of teenagers, while a stray text make its way onto the TV screen nobody really wanted to admit how much time we spent on our electronics. The whole premise of PLL was the symbiotic relationship between our technology and our real life, with ridiculously modern phone and laptops that the first season of the show now feels a little out dated.

Don’t just write strong women

Usually, a teen show falls into the Bitch, the Sweetheart and the Rebel. But Pretty Little Liars showed us women that were more than that, smart girls making mistakes and ‘dumb’ girls with a master plan. Pretty Little Liars may not have been the best for overarching plotlines but it never dismissed the power of its own characters.

Representation matters

Although it’s still far from perfect Pretty Little Liars was one of the first teen shows to have a lesbian character on it from the get-go. And the show stood by its pro- LGBT stance even as the Parents Television Council threatened to boycott in its first season. The show isn’t without its flaws in this area but Emily’s sexuality is a respected part of the show.

The social factor

While one of the most popular shows on Freeform Pretty Little Liars it never really succeeded in the ratings wars. But the show ran circles around its competitors in terms of social media engagement. As it was one of the shows with the highest social media engagements it meant more people were watching it at their leisure rather than when it premiered. This inspired Freeform’s recent move towards VOD and streaming services. Adapting to the way young people watch TV means they are already ahead of the game.


If nothing else Pretty Little Liars was a show that married mystery with the teen experience paralleling 21st tech anxiety with troubles of growing up and as the show finishes this year fans of PLL will be waiting just as anxiously to see the unveiling of A as they will be for seeing how the Liar’s lives turn out.


Now all we have to do is wait….

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