Mourning the End of a Pretty Little Era

After seven seasons, fans finally had to say goodbye to the phenomenon that was 'Pretty Little Liars.'

The infamous lines “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead” played across TV screens for the final time on Tuesday, June 27, as, after seven seasons on air, the Freeform hit “Pretty Little Liars” wrapped up with its series finale.

For the last seven years, as the tantalizing romance unfolded on screen, viewers have used the series to learn about high school, fashion, friendships and relationships from the characters. While some things were unrealistic, such as high schoolers wearing perfectly put-together outfits each day and never repeating a look, you still related to the show. Even as someone who wore a uniform to school every day, there was still at least one time I wanted to steal clothes from each of the girls. I always wished people really dressed like that in high school, and sometimes I still do, even now college.

If you don’t know the show, although mostly everyone has at least heard of it, here’s a recap of the important names, enemies and plots that occurred along the way. Just a quick heads-up before continuing on, this article contains series spoilers.

The show, based on a series of sixteen books by Sara Shepard, takes place in the fictional Pennsylvania town of Rosewood. The story follows four girls, Hanna Marin (Ashely Benson), Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell), Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) and Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), tackling high school after their queen bee best friend, Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse), goes missing. After a short time, Alison’s body is found buried in her own backyard.

Following the discovery of the body, Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria began receiving cryptic texts containing tidbits and secrets only Alison knew about. Each text was signed –A. This began the whole conversation of “Who is A?”

Over the first two seasons, A kept the girls living in fear with their endless schemes and revelations. Between Aria’s love affair with her teacher, Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding), and Spencer falling for the boy they once pinned a crime on, Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen), A was there to ruin it all. At the end of Season 2, Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish) was revealed as A.

Shortly after the revelation of Mona as A, the texts and messages started again. As Mona was seeking mental help at the notorious Radley Sanitarium, the girls once again found themselves searching for the identity of the new A. With the help of more characters, Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn) and Paige McCullers (Lindsey Shaw), the girls navigated life under the tricks of A once again.

In Season 4, the shocker of the show hit, as the girls found out Alison was alive all along. With that fact brought to life, the girls found the task of finding A’s identity to be even harder. At the end of Season 5, the four girls, along with Mona, were taken hostage in A’s dollhouse, only to escape a few episodes later.

Image via betches.com

Shortly after getting out of the dollhouse, the girls finally found the new A’s identity in Season 6. Shocking everyone, the show exposed Charlotte Drake (Vanessa Ray) as A. Twisting every fan theory, Charlotte, known as CeCe, was seen throughout the show multiple times, but as an ally. Cece then told her story, wherein she explained that her obsession with Alison stemmed from being her brother, as Cece was actually a trans male. That’s right, Charlotte was actually Charlie DiLaurentis, who grew up in Radley Sanitarium.

The discovery left numerous fans angry, as they thought it was the end of the show and the era. Finally, with A free, the girls left Rosewood and went their separate ways to college.

The show’s writer, Marlene King, decided not to end the series just yet. That’s when the new A, A 2.0 as some called it, AD, was introduced. Five years later, the girls returned to Rosewood as a result of Charlotte’s parole appeal, and not even twenty-four hours after Charlotte is released from doctors’ treatment and murdered, the A-like texts begin again.

The newest AD used a board game with the girls, in which they tried to have the terrified women find Charlotte’s killer. Once again, the girls found themselves controlled by an unidentifiable source. Throughout the season, the girls dealt with murders, romances, family struggles and careers instead of high school.

After finishing AD’s board game and revealing Mona as Charlotte’s killer, King took fans by surprise again by introducing Spencer’s twin sister, Alex Drake, as AD. As if Spencer didn’t have enough family drama when the plot twist of Mary Drake (Andrea Parker) being her mother was revealed, producers had to throw a hidden sister into the mix.

Although some say it was a complete shock, there were a few signs that a Spencer twin could have been the answer. Troian’s, the actress who plays Spencer, Twitter bio reads “(sometimes I play this chick Spencer Hastings on this show Pretty Little Liars). But only sometimes.” Along with this hidden Easter egg all along, a few more obvious clues were nestled in the show. First off, it was a bit fishy when Ezra saw Spencer and Wren arguing in the airport. But, the time I really should have known was when AD had Mona wear a Melissa mask while watching the girls in the finale episode. It was basically an arrow pointing towards Spencer’s sister, just not the one viewers expected.

Even writing this piece almost a week later, I can’t decide whether or not I enjoyed the ending. The whole Spencer having a twin that grew up across the world was unexpected, but the fact Alex had been acting as Spencer here and there all season was shocking. The only time the theory ever crossed my mind was when Ezra saw “Spencer” in the airport. Although, what got me was that Alex killed Wren, and they kind of just skipped over that bit. It was also a bit odd that Wren was the father of Emily and Alison’s twins.

Although the Wren and Alex part was kind of twisted, the entirety of the show ended on a happy note. Each character ended up with their series long significant other, at least it was implied that way in the case of Spencer and Toby. One of the only things that kept you wondering was when Mona had Alex and Mary in her own dollhouse under a doll shop in Paris.

Besides the question of Mona’s wellbeing, the series ended with all the questions answered and a majority of fans content with the finale. Seven years of dedication towards a TV show well spent, although, thank goodness it’s finally over.

Lauren Clohessy, Northern Illinois University

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Lauren Clohessy

Northern Illinois University

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