TV Review: Pretty Little Liars (Season 7)
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After seven seasons, three A’s, and a plethora of red herrings, Pretty Little Liars - everyone’s favourite guilty pleasure show - is finally over.
Season seven begins five years after the previous season and sees the last villain, CeCe (a.k.a Charlotte) released from prison, only to be killed soon after. Then, surprise surprise, another A comes on the scene. At this point, we’re probably all getting tired of the same old broken record, but we’ve made it this far, so we may as well finish. And dammit, now we want to know who Uber A is.
The first half of the season focuses mostly on the new relationships the liars have formed in the past five years - something we really couldn’t care less about. Predictably, they all end up to be pointless, as everybody ends up with the same person they were with before anyway. While Hanna’s fiancé and Aria’s boyfriend were annoying but bearable, the Spencer/Caleb relationship has to be one of the most awkward on television. The actors had no chemistry whatsoever and it was uncomfortable to watch. The only one that had any relevance to the story is Alison’s husband, who turns out to be a complete psychopath. While this was also predictable, at least it was entertaining.
Meanwhile, the A game has been turned up a notch. Remember when it used to be about petty theft and closeted lesbians? Well, now people are getting murdered left, right and center. There’s even a beheading at one point. The scenarios get more and more far-fetched as the series goes on, making it hard to take seriously. The show went from unlikely but still believable, to utterly absurd - but still just entertaining enough to convince ourselves to keep going - to 'why the hell am I still watching this?' I suppose, after giving it so much of our attention, we just had to see how it ended. This time the liars end up playing a literal board game created by A called ‘The Liar’s Lament’. This is probably the best part of the season, as the intricacies of A’s games are just enough to keep us watching.
But who does Uber A turn out to be? None other than, quite literally, Spencer’s evil twin, who we had no idea about until now. They took the most ridiculous, over-the-top, clichéd evil twin story and made it the 'big twist' of the entire show. Troian Bellisario plays both Spencer and the new character Alex Drake, who was shipped off to England at a young age. Apparently, the actress thinks the best way to do an English accent is to imitate Oliver Twist; it was cringe-worthy every time she opened her mouth. It seems the liars have a more complicated family tree than a Mexican soap opera. Plus, she makes her appearance on what also has to be the most clichéd event possible: Aria and Ezra’s wedding.
Aria and Ezra’s relationship got way too much attention throughout the season; I’m sure I’m not the only one who got tired of them years ago. On a cheerier note, Alison and Emily finally got together - this was something that had been building up for years, and at least we got closure. Although, it was all brought on by the bizarre situation of Alison getting unwillingly impregnated by Emily’s eggs. Sure, it makes for a dramatic storyline, but it was never properly explained why A/Alex did this, other than that Wren would have good-looking babies. In fact, it makes no sense why she would want to torture any of the liars, except Spencer, especially when she claimed she was jealous of their relationship and wanted to impersonate Spencer and be their friend. Confused yet?
There are so many storylines zapping all over the place, it’s hard to keep up. The liars’ romances and careers take attention away from the main A game, which is the only thing we care about anymore. Unfortunately, the ‘big reveal’ was underwhelming and utterly nonsensical. They spent so long focusing on subplots that they crammed everything into the finale and tried too hard to be original and shocking - so much so that it ended up going in the opposite direction. Additionally, the entire series ended in the cheesiest way possible; in an attempt to bring things full circle, it shows a group of girls on a sleepover, waking up to find that one of them is missing - in other words, echoing the same situation as the show’s pilot. Let’s just ignore that, and pretend the previous scene is the ending, where Mona has Alex and Mary Drake locked up in her dollhouse. At least that was amusing.
To sum up, the writers tried too hard to be clever, and ended up looking foolish. But, in a series filled with fake reveals, melodramatic romances and crazy A torture mechanisms, it’s hardly surprising. Pretty Little Liars is not supposed to be a sophisticated show; it’s labelled as a teen drama, and that’s exactly what it is.
It’s a strange mix of regular teen turmoil and sudden life-threatening situations, and that’s probably what makes it so annoyingly addicting. As much as I hate to admit it, I will miss them.
Pretty Little Liars: Seasons 1-7 are available to stream on Netflix.