Friday, June 14, 2013

PLL: Part II (aka The Bests).

Today in my teenage angst, my friend Adriene's tumblr bio states, "I have no guilty pleasures." I find that I really don't either. I act like I do, but really I don't feel guilty or feel any shame for the (seemingly) stupid things I find pleasurable (read, Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars, etc). As a result, I unabashedly carry forth my previous post The Five Worst Things of Pretty Little Liars and present to you:

The Five Best Things About Pretty Little Liars
These are in descending order of importance.

Aside from the other favorites described, I can't and won't get over this intro. 
I sing along every episode and maybe (only maybe have actions). Hehehehe.

5. The town of Rosewood is shot on the same set as Gilmore Girls
This maybe should have been put under the worsts because it lures you into a false sense of ease and protection while watching the show. But seriously. That's pretty awesome. Also Rosewood tends to hold that same level of "not on this planet" existential feel that Stars Hollow did (though in an entirely different way, so I approve the set's re-usage. 

4. Troian Bellisario. 
I'd like to complain about the fact that she's 28 and playing a 17 year old, but I can't. Because I think she's amazing. Spencer Hastings - Troian's character, but like that really needs explanation - holds the group's book smarts and academic achievements; as in she's shooting for Penn State. Which is great right? I mean in every group of girls/teens, there's the one with the intellect. But Spencer's character goes beyond this. She's loyal to those she loves (which doesn't always place her family first), but doesn't stand for the lying. AND she's super funny. The more ridiculous the show gets, the funnier Spencer becomes. I like to think that this is because she's getting so tightly wound trying to sort out the interwining issues in her head that she's going crazy - which we've already seen to be at least half true. And like sure, Hanna's funny too, but that's kind of her schtick. Spencer's funny comes without aiming for it; and I think that's a mark of good writing. Below are some of my fave Spencer quotes.
  • [About calling the number from “Vivian”’s pocket]: “Well, it’s probably easier than hiring the fat lady with the tube top at the farmers’ market who’s going to tell you your fortune, but if you’re too scared.
  • “If only we could harness Mona’s sense of entitlement, we could light the eastern seaboard.” 
  • via
3. Toby.
OH man alive, Toby. I just freaking love Toby! First, because who decides that a character's name should be Toby, when you have other character's named Spencer, and Aria, and Holden, and Maya. I guess Sara Sheppard. But whatever. But also because he had the most ridiculous mop of a head of hair in the first season and now he's like...well, he's not losing, in the hair department. And also! because he it is so undetermined if he's bad or good that, as viewers, we can't ever fully love or loathe him. This is akin to Damien Lewis' character, Nicholas Brody on Homeland (Yeah I made the comparison). In that regard, I generally go with however Claire Danes is feeling about the issue. But with Toby, no one ever has any semblence of a clue as to his true motives and the lenghts to which he's willing to go! Someone just tell me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL ABOUT TOBY!?!?! Not to mention the doo-rag episode. At the end of Season 3, we got a glimpse into a conversation that Allison had had with Toby when he was in Juvenile Detention (I am certain that the doo-rag was meant to really bring home the severity of his time in juvie). So what's that history about? Either way, I celebrated in the S4 premiere when he appeared on the screen. Even though that appearance was followed almost immediately by a lie. 
I love how much play this ridiclous doorag got. via
2. Emily's sexuality. 
This is legit one of my favorite things about this show. Emily Fields, played by Shay Mitchell, is gay, which for a teen show is a pretty typical character inclusion. The best part comes in that not only is she gay, but its no big deal. In fact, it was hardly a deal at all. There was the coming out episode, in which, the other girls were like, great! And her Dad was like, I love you! And her mom was like, NO! A few episodes later, everyone had adjusted; and beauty and lies carried on as per the usual - intertwining and damning everyone's lives to destruction and ruin. Easy peasy. Because I feel like we're past the shock value of homosexuality. I'm a firm believer that sexuality is fluid (rather than static). It grows and it changes and maybe you're attracted to an entirely different kind of person than you were yesterday. It's just the way it goes. Thank you, PLL production team, for making this work so well. 
Oh Maya. Playing a teenager forever.
Except, of course for the confusing role you now play on Teen Wolf. Yikes. via
1. The exposition of the nature of emotionally abusive friendships. 
Did anyone read The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood? I remember watching the first season and thinking that Sara Sheppard sure had. The Robber Bride centers on the lives of three women; friends, who despite their vast personal and professional differences are brought together by a shared friendship with an emotionally abusive woman, Zenia. The book outlines each woman's story and explains the nature of her relationship with Zenia and how it has impacted the rest of their lives. After Zenia's (supposed) death, the women seek to understand themselves in the freedom of a life outside of Zenia's influence. 
Translate this story to High Schoolers and I give you, Pretty Little Liars. The thing I love most about this show is that it exposes the way that emotionally abusive relationships form between teenagers - for any number of reasons - and because of their age, lack of life experience, and whatever else, just seem to spin on and on and on. When I talk to the teenagers that I work with every week, I understand that these relationships are everywhere. And that kills me, but I worry that more than that, it's also killing them. The thing I appreciate most about the exposure of these unhealthy relationships is that girls be able to identify the Ali(s), in their own lives and make the necessary changes before its too late. This is a possibly much unidentified and unceasingly helpful aspect for this show's unending teenage viewership. 

Aaannddd there you have it. My relationship with teen oriented media is deep and its real. I'm sorry if you find this tedious and unimportant and would rather I be talking about Game of Thrones, but let's get real guys, I just can't do that. 

Friday, June 7, 2013


Today in my teenage angst, a lot of my life is about justification. I like to do socio-cultural analysis of media; specifically, if you hadn't already guessed, television. This requires a heavy participation in said media. Which is fine, right? Because I'm doing it for the sake of expanding my own awareness, as well as the awareness of those I bore with my media analysis in person and online. While this is my justfication, the reality is that there is no hardship involved. I love it; just so damn much. JUST SO MUCH GUYS! I started watching Teen Wolf a few days ago and I am eating it for breakfast. So please don't assume there is any sort of shame involved in how into this I am, because there can be no shame in this level of social awareness.

SO, in light of the upcoming premiere of Season 4, (WHICH! Is defs on my birthday. Go me.) I give you:

The 5 Best and Worst Things About Pretty Little Liars! 
(in no particular order)(also, we're only covering the worsts today)
This poster is amazing. I only sort of  really want it. via
1. Ian Harding. (I know, as if right?)
Okay, so I hadn't heard of Ian Harding until I started watching this show, but I fell in love with him in the first episode. I'm willing to admit that it's the teeth. Good glory those teeth.  It's also the ties tho. He wears those skinny ties that I love so much, almost every episode. Is it any wonder that every second he's not on screen, I miss him?
Guuhhh, the stroke of the head.... via
The problem with Ian Harding - or rather his character, Ezra Fitz - is that the portrayal of his relationship with sixteen (now seventeen) year old Aria is so endearing that it seems to make its illegality okay. I can't remember a show that has portrayed this kind of relationship in such a positive light and I just kind of wish that it wasn't.

2. They are all so pretty. (This might actually be the #1 worst thing.)
I ship Troian Bellisario's hair. Forget Ezra and Aria, I am living for that hair. The perfection of the appearance of every character (even when Spencer was locked up and out of her mind she looked amazing), creates yet one more unrealistic desire and expectation for its - largely teen and preteen - viewers. While these girls are legit so beautiful, their beauty (obvi) is not because of their amazing hair and wardrobes. Let's all just keep in mind, that at every moment on the set of this show, PROFESSIONALS ARE EVERYWHERE!!!!!
3. The familial interactions.
My sister and I used to talk about who we would choose to live with if our parents died. We attended a lot of funerals as children so I think it was an understandable morbidity. When it became clear that I probably wasn't going to have to go live with anybody, I began to think about which fictional families I would  most like to be a part. The Taylors of Friday Night Lights, are an obvious choice. The Conners of Roseanne, The Cohens of The O.C. and the Huxtables of The Cosby Show are high on my list too. I'm a little bummed to say that I don't want to be a part of any of the families featured on Pretty Little Liars.
This one's a particularly dysfunctional treat. via
Dysfunction Central is what the show sould actually be called. It's not catchy, but it gives a better summation of the portrayed relational values and interactions. No one has a proper sense of communication, or of the difference between helpful and hurtful. Family blow-ups happen in every episode. Estrangements begin and end like lava in a lamp. It's ridiculous.The worst part is that the parents are just as at fault as their children; as if they themselves have no concept of relational health. This leads us into issue #4.

4. All of the lying.
It's built right into the name, so I should probably get over this one. But the intentions involved in every lie are so skewed! The one being lied to always knows it and the one lying is always riddled with guilt and anxiety because of it. Why would you put yourselves through that guys!? While I really do understand this as the driving force of the show, everytime Hanna enters into another Caleb oriented lie, I cringe, knowing the fall out (and eventual make-up) that will come out of it. There's a common purpose right? Discover and defeat   -A. While -A is reaking havoc and very literally threatening their lives, I can't help but think they could take care of this a lot more smoothly if they just sat down, laid it all out on the table - truth wise, and went from there. Lying is not a way to secure psychological health or happiness. Let's all just agree on that.
Lying gets you an orange jumpsuit. via
Expanding on all of the lying, let's just talk about how far down the rabbit hole of secrets these girls have gotten and that I truly believe they're never going to be able to get out. I have an anxiety disorder so the pressure of keeping secrets - especially ones involving death, deception, and destruction, makes me want to go fetal right here at my desk. I don't know how they do it! Or how they expect me to believe that they're doing it that portrayed level of grace.

5. Noel Kahn's teeth.
Let's add in the general mouth area. via
This guy could get a lifetime of roles playing "male who looks sociopathic all the effing time", based on the merit of his teeth alone. That's all. 
So stay tuned for the much more gratifying 5 Best Things About Pretty Little Liars that is to come!