After seven long seasons, we have finally been released from the confines of the “Pretty Little Liars” dollhouse. It’s like an eerily lifelike rubber mask has been peeled off our faces and we can finally breathe easy again.
“PLL” was by no means a good show. Was it addictive? Yes. But good? Not so much. From the completely unrealistic plot ― not to mention the plot holes ― to the predatory relationships to the trans villain narrative, the Freeform series had so many flaws, and we haven’t forgotten about them.
Below, in no particular order, a roundup of all the worst parts about “PLL,” a show that could have ended three seasons ago, but somehow, kept us coming back for more. We’re just glad it’s over.
Warning: Spoilers for all seasons of “Pretty Little Liars” ahead. Proceed at your own risk!
Seriously, what were the showrunners thinking with this spinoff? Were the residents supernatural? Were they human? Life was so bad there, Caleb came back to the hell hole that is Rosewood.
2. The Parents
Oh. My. Goodness. THE PARENTS. Literally, none of them actually parented their children, aside from Emily’s mom, who seemed like the only one who was ever genuinely concerned for her daughter. And can we just talk about Mr. Hastings for a minute? Dude fathered like half the town of Rosewood. (Slight exaggeration, but still.)
3. The Moms Trapped In The Basement
This plotline was possibly the best and worst at the same time. The fact that four wine-loving moms trapped in a basement provided one of the most entertaining storylines of this show just speaks volumes about how bad it actually is. To this day, we don’t even know how they actually got out ― and just when we thought we’d get an answer in the series finale, we were fooled!
4. The N.A.T. Club
The N.A.T. club, comprised of Jason DiLaurentis, Ian Thomas and Garrett Reynolds, literally just filmed the residents of Rosewood ― including the Liars ― through bedroom windows, without consent. Creepy much? Over seven seasons of the show, we barely learned anything useful about the club, aside from the fact that the initials stood for “Nos Animadverto Totus,” which means “We See All.”
5. Melissa Hastings
Melissa was one of the most frustrating characters of this entire show. She killed Bethany Young, who she thought was Alison, because she was trying to protect Spencer, but Bethany wasn’t actually dead when Melissa buried her. Of course, logic doesn’t exist in this show, so Melissa didn’t even turn Bethany over to check her pulse or anything ― she just rolled her into a grave and filled it up, burying her alive, and went on living with her secret. Aside from all that, she was just generally annoying. She didn’t even turn out to be A.D. She was, however, one of the few people who made it out of Rosewood alive. We’ll give her that.
6. The Trans Villain Narrative
For whatever reason, I. Marlene King thought it was totally cool to reveal that CeCe Drake, the show’s one transgender character, was the big bad during the Season 6 summer finale. Not only was the reveal extremely disappointing, as it was just another tired, lazy (and offensive) TV trope, it perpetuated a number of negative stereotypes about the trans community.
As Samantha Rullo wrote at Bustle, “Somehow, no one involved with the creation of this episode realized how ridiculously problematic it was, especially since a significant amount of the audience is young, and this is providing a representation of a transgender person that is offensive, grossly inaccurate, and just plain wrong.”
7. The Show’s Treatment Of Mental Health
Way too often on “Pretty Little Liars,” mental illness was used to justify terrible and/or violent behavior. Pretty much every character who’s been revealed as A or involved with A ― CeCe, Mona, Sarah Harvey, Spencer (Remember when Spencer was on the A-Team? Though, that could have been Alex for all we know) ― has spent time at Radley. But as Refinery29 pointed out, “there is no direct correlation between someone’s mental health and that person’s integrity and morality.” That’s just a problematic stereotype that the show perpetuated.
8. The Entire Rosewood Police Department
Seriously, how incompetent can one whole police department be? Over the course of seven seasons, which involved a five-year time jump, not a single cop was able to pin the Liars for any of the multiple crimes they committed. The only person who could have blown their cover was Toby, but we all know he was under Spencer’s spell and would never let her go to jail. Also, was he really even a cop?
9. The Fact Death Didn’t Really Mean Anything
There were so many fake deaths on “PLL” ― Ali, Officer Wilden, Mona, Toby ― it became really hard to believe anyone was ever really gone. The writers likely wrote the deaths this way to give themselves a little leeway, but as a viewer, it was always annoying when someone came back. Right until the end, we were left thinking A.D. could have been anyone who’d ever appeared on the show, regardless of whether they were dead or alive.
The relationship between Ezra and Aria was gross and weird and just plain wrong from the get-go. When they first hooked up, we were under the impression Ezra thought Aria was old enough to be in a bar. That was gross enough, but at that point, it was just playing into the “hot for teacher” trope. Then, we learned Ezra knew exactly who Aria was, and knew exactly how old she was (16?!) when he, an adult, essentially preyed on her at the bar. In its final season, “PLL” finally addressed its statutory rape problem, but instead of pointing out just how problematic the relationship was, the show seemed to celebrate it. Oh, and Ezria ended up getting married. So there’s that.
11. Paige and Emily
Paige tried to drown Emily! We repeat: Paige tried to drown Emily! Yet somehow, Em continued to fall for Paige, over and over again, leaving us rolling our eyes on the regular.
Out of all the relationships on this show, Emison was our least favorite. (Don’t @ me.) Alison was such a terrible person to all the Liars, yet Emily was under her spell for years. Then, without ever having given their relationship a real shot, they decided to raise Emily’s baby ― which Uber A secretly implanted into Alison’s uterus after stealing Emily’s eggs ― as a family. (Why was this show so twisted?!) And after the one-year time jump in the finale, they get engaged!
13. The Countless Plot Holes
Over the course of seven seasons, answers to the show’s most pressing questions were not easy to come by. For instance, what happened to Aria’s brother, Mike? How did CeCe have a college roommate if she was staying in Radley? What was the deal with that barrel Hannah found in Season 5? Whatever happened to Eddie Lamb?
Oftentimes, viewers got no answers at all. That’s because...
14. Logic And Reality Just Didn’t Exist In Rosewood
Rosewood was a different world, that may as well have been on its own planet. So many things just didn’t make sense, but for some reason, we kept on watching, hoping some day it would all come together. But alas, we never really found out what happened to Aria’s brother Mike, we’ll never understand how the Liars were able to play detective at literally any hour of the day, despite being in school for most of the show, and we’ll always wonder whether someone in the costume department had it out for Lucy Hale in the first few seasons.
15. Seriously, What Was Up With Aria’s Wardrobe?
Aria’s wardrobe was by far the worst on this show ― remember the comic book-print ensemble? The tiny jacket and bustier combo? The extremely high heels in high school? ― but all the Liars wore some extremely questionable outfits.
This girl was a terrible, jealous, cruel, manipulative bully who controlled the group, fat-shamed Hannah, and pretended she was dead for years. She’s the worst.
17. Sarah Harvey
What was even the point of Sarah Harvey?
18. The Irrelevance Of Addison
Addison was a Season 7 addition, and after about one episode we had already forgotten about her “Pretty Persuasion”-esque plot to get Emily in trouble. When she reappeared in the series finale, we were less than impressed. Please, I. Marlene King, do not make a “PLL” spinoff focused on Addison. We’re begging you!
19. All Those Other Useless Characters
Holden, Sydney, Lesli Stone, Clark Wilkins, Cyrus Petrillo, Andrew Campbell, Kenneth DiLaurentis, Jackie Molina, Nicole (Ezra’s ex), Mrs. Grunwald ... the list goes on.
20. The Blind Girl Jokes
The Liars, namely Ali, were the reason Jenna went blind, yet they continued to make jokes at her expense throughout the show. Was Jenna evil? Probably. Could she see at one point? We think so. But all the Liars’ jokes about Jenna’s blindness were unnecessary, considering it was their fault.
21. The Numerous A Reveals
Couldn’t they just pick one A and go with it? Why did we have to go through seven seasons of trying to figure out the identities of multiple As, Uber A, A.D. and whoever else was on the A-team?! Why are there so many people out to get these girls? It was exhausting.
22. Spencer And Caleb As A Couple
Why was this even a thing? #Haleb4ever
23. Also, Spencer And Wren
Wasn’t one predatory relationship enough? (And yes, we know Wren was with Alex as well, but that was after Spencer; Wren only noticed Alex because he thought she was Spencer. Their pairing was lame, too.)
24. The Jumanji Rip-Off
Were we the only ones who thought the game in Season 7 was a blatant, though possibly more terrifying, Jumanji rip-off?
25. The Reveal Of A.D.
Theories about Spencer having a twin swirled online throughout the series, so when it turned out to be true, we’ll admit, we were a little underwhelmed. But such is life in Rosewood. Have we ever been fully satisfied with any of the big bad reveals?
26. The Fact This Show Lasted Seven Seasons
I. Marlene King clearly found pleasure in teasing “PLL” fans over the years but let’s be honest, this show could have easily ended three seasons earlier.