This is the moment when I try to convince y’all that my seven year addiction to Pretty Little Liars has been a healthy and enriching addition to my life. (Which I shall henceforth refer to as PLL because we’re totally each other’s bae, and there’s no need for such formalities such as full names…)
Put your hand up if you have a secret shame TV show that gets a binge on the reg? Everyone’s hand should be in the air, because whether you have the balls to admit it or not, we all have something that gets a sly run when we’ve got the couch to ourselves after a bloody long day at work (bonus points if you’re also deleting it from your Netflix history. That’s some nex’ level TV shame, friends).
It’s one of our best kept secrets, amiright? I mean, in public we all claim to be aficionados – dissecting the latest episodes of anything ‘critically acclaimed’ with gusto. I profess to have practically become a British royal expert after watching The Crown, and I have many opinions on the US legal and political system that I maintain to be attributed to my thoughtful consumption of Making a Murderer, House of Cards and Trump documentaries. I watch shows that I have zero interest in – just to remain on top of the zeitgeist.
The truth? Most of my knowledge of the US political system comes from Scandal. And I couldn’t really tell you the Windsor family tree in a pinch – but I know every convoluted relationship and half sister/brother on Greys Anatomy (also, pretty sure I could perform heart surgery, if the opportunity ever presented itself, FYI). But would I ever admit that in public?! Hell to the no.
But really, the only thing we should ‘stop’ is pretending that it’s a bad, brain cell destroying, habit. Let the critics lament the demise of ‘quality’ TV – IMO there is a place for the gloriously indulgent crappy TV show, and it’s a habit I’m not planning to kick anytime soon. (Also, neither should you.)
Crappy TV is the gold standard of escapism – it doesn’t try to be anything other than an engrossing and engaging story. It doesn’t take you on a journey of intricate plot lines or complex character developments – heck, anytime things get even half way complicated on PLL the characters start explaining what is happening amongst themselves, always under the guise of ‘working things out’, but super helpful for those of us who were scrolling Insta instead of actually paying attention. They write themselves out dead end plot lines with the well worn ‘surprise, it was just a dream!’ sequence, and we all collectively groan and forgive the transgression anyway. For those glorious 60 minutes, you can literally leave the real world behind and live in a world where characters are always the very best versions of themselves.
Time and logic don’t really exist in these alter-realities. I mean, sure, they’re largely modelled on ‘real life’ – schools and jobs and friendship groups – but every thing is hyped up on some sort of ‘awesome life’ gas. Everyone has runway ready looks, constantly. The PLL lasses are only in high school (with no steady income, beyond a few lame attempts at ‘summer jobs’), yet they put my wardrobe to shame. It doesn’t matter when someone drops by unannounced – they’re always greeted by their friend in full hair, make up – and usually heels. If you stop past my house unannounced, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’ll be in lycra and I may have brushed my teeth. There’s a lot of time for getting together and talking about their problems over coffee (again, dressed in the aforementioned fabulous best) – and if someone texts ‘I need to speak to you now, meet me at The Brew’ (the resident coffee shop for all you PLL virgins) – they ALWAYS have time to drop everything and go right along. I’m lucky if I see and respond to your text within the hour, much less actually get to the coffee shop. I mean, who the heck has spontaneous coffee?? It generally takes me and my crew seventeen text message chains, four cancelled dates and several weeks of organisation to get together.
And don’t even get me started on the ‘shit will just work itself out in the end’ stuff. The PLL ladies have dug themselves into some absolutely ridiculous holes – they should have been arrested seventeen times over and then some – but somehow, somehow, there’s always a twist and glitter and rainbows fall from the sky, with everything working itself out and everyone living happily ever after. (Well, you know, until the season finale, where they need to f*&k shit up again so that you’ll come back next year.)
But Em! That’s madness! It’s just promoting an unobtainable lifestyle! Why is this a good thing? And where can I get that leather studded jacket we saw on Aria this season?
I hear your outrage, friends. And shush. (And I found a similar version on ASOS, it’s on sale, run don’t walk.)
Turn on the TV, scroll through your Twitter feed, check out the front page of news.com.au – there are so many dark clouds in the world right now. And while the jury is still out on whether things are actually getting worse – terrorism, political war, death, famine, disease, inequality – one thing’s for sure is that the speed and volume that the internet can get all of the above in front of our eyeballs is breathtaking. We watched and mourned with London as the bombings at the Ariana Grande concert unravelled in real time. Our hearts broke again just a few weeks later as we watched the Grenfell Tower burn, more families torn apart by tragedy, more devastation with an avalanche of volume, for our overworked little brains to process. Add in the pressures of our careers – climbing that ladder is getting harder than ever before – life, friends, family, money – it’s not surprising that we’re more stressed than ever before.
So going home, pouring a glass of wine, and escaping into a world that demands nothing more from you than a quick drool over the fashion and a decision over which couple is your favourite for an hour? Find me a better Wednesday night, I DARE YOU. (BTW, I’m totally Team #Haleb)
Like all good things, this one is quickly coming to an end. On Wednesday, PLL and I will finally part ways, (and I swear to god if you don’t have a decent wrap up for this one Marlene, it’s not going to be mutual or on good terms – don’t you even think about making Ezra A.D. *shakes fists*) as the series finale wraps up. (But don’t any of you worry your pretty little heads about me – Shonda has just signed Greys for a 14th season, so we’re good.)
And if you’ve made it this far, and somehow you’re still not convinced? Well let’s see you argue with Mark Hamill – that’s right LUKE FREAKING SKYWALKER himself. He attributes TV and fandom as a crucial part of maintaining one’s wellbeing – and that ‘part of the fun is escaping the drudgery of real life’.
Game over, bitches.