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Pretty Little Liars’ Unhappy Ending

Spoilers for Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars is packed with drama and suspense through all seven seasons. The Liars, no matter how many time jumps, always find support in one another, and they always face a greater enemy. They always seem to find themselves facing A in one form or another, and creating bigger and bigger lies to cover up minor falsehoods and indiscretions.

Many of these lies may be significant at 16, but at 18 and 24, none are quite so earth shattering. Though the Liars come more into themselves during the time jumps (even the time jump from the first scene in the show to the second), they immediately revert back to their old habits when the show catches up. Even outside of A/uber A/AD, the Liars make each other miserable. They peer pressure one another into keeping lies, they hurt each other, and stop their whole lives to go back into the same games they played in high school.

Though they have faced tragedy and terror together, the Liars do not make each other happy. They simply are familiar and relate to one another. This can be a powerful connection in friendship, but the show proves time and time again that the only times any of the four are productive is when they are away from one another. When they went off to college, they each faced difficulties, but it is nothing out of the ordinary from most young adults. Rather than face a quarter-life crisis alone, the Liars seek validation and danger through reforming their old group.

The fact that the show ends with each Liar connecting for significant amounts of time with their abuser shows that the pattern will not stop after the series ends. The Liars do not have the highest self-confidence and their healthiest relationships often end quickly. The exception is Hanna and Caleb.

Though Hanna and Caleb have a healthy relationship together, Hanna’s self-imposed role as Mona’s caretaker (in the tag of the last episode she is shown to still unstable and continuing the game) always causes dangerous issues. Likewise, though Alison had a brief redemption, she still tormented Emily for many of her teenage years. Alison had her own issues with her sexuality, but it does not excuse her abuse of Emily. The same can be said for Toby and Spencer. Toby does many thing to hurt Spencer and only gives the excuse that he thought it would make things better for her overall.

In the series finale, Aria marries Ezra. Not only is Ezra her abuser, he was her high school teacher and was deeply connected to the darkest parts of her high school experience. By marrying him, she is marrying into a continuation of tragedy and lies. Her friends’ support of this relationship as adults is disturbing. Not only did Aria and Ezra break up 7 times during the course of the show, but the relationship began when Aria was a mere 16 years old, and Ezra, an adult, knew her age.

At the culmination of the show, even with a lack of ultimate enemy, the show uses the final episode to show that the Liars’ connections to their abusers and their unhealthy friendship will continue their paths of destruction and lies.

Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet, was also a writer for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant 2e, and has been published in books and magazines. She is an editor for the pop culture and media website GeekGals.co. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile, produces and performs on Fables Around the Table, and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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