Pretty Little Payoff - After Years of Commitment, a Disappointing Finale

Warning - spoilers ahead!

Pretty Little Liars, loosely based on the book series of the same name by Sara Shepherd, premiered on June 28th, 2010. It was the summer between grade 8 and high school for me. I was just 14 years old, and PLL gave me insight into a thrilling world that I have nothing to do with but am strangely drawn to, and (somewhat worryingly) inspired by.

The Liars always looked put together. Even when "A", the somehow ubiquitous yet unknown villain of the show had the girls in an underground bunker, they looked perfect. I loved all the unreal problems that these girls had to face I wished my life was that exciting. Year after year, impossible thing after impossible thing happened on that show. I stopped finding it interesting somewhere in the third season and yet, I stuck by it, because dammit - I wanted to know who "A" was.

Imagine how delighted I was when I found out that it was finally "ending" - when I read online that Pretty Little Liars' producer I. Marlene King had announced that we would find out who "A" is in the summer finale of season 6, I put it in my calendar. Seriously - no way was I going to miss finding out the identity of TV's most nefarious tormentor of teen girls.

However, August 11th came along, and I spent most of the hour between 8-9 p.m. going "Huh? What? Wait... what? That doesn't make any sense! Oh, god, no!" with my friends.

Pretty Little Liars did this finale all wrong. I. Marlene King would've been better off perusing the hundreds of fan theories on Tumblr and just choosing one to go with instead of running what ended up being the most disappointing TV finale I've ever watched.

So, CeCe Drake is "A." Personally, I don't think she appeared in enough episodes to have an impact sufficient enough to please fans of the show. There are so many things wrong with the fact that the show's writers made CeCe "A" - the biggest one being that they made it clear throughout all of the season "A" is Charles, a man.

The alarming thing about the fact that Pretty Little Liars' writers made the ultimate villain on the show a trans character is that CeCe was institutionalized for most of her life. Cece being trans, as well as "A", a cruel and manipulative criminal, enforces a dangerous narrative that only mentally ill people can be transgender.

Writing trans characters the way that Pretty Little Liars did sensationalizes the challenges of being transgender; making a character trans for the sake of shock value displays lazy writing and a lack of creative ideas. Also, it's just plain mean (I saw a couple of tweets after the show joking about "A" really being Caitlyn Jenner. Sigh.)

Pretty Little Liars isn't actually over now that we know who "A" is. The last few minutes of the summer finale showed a 5-year time jump, meaning that the rest of this season as well as season 7 - apparently the last - will show the Liars' life after college.

For me, the show might as well be over. I don't think that any ending to Pretty Little Liars would have been completely satisfying; the story was much too complicated for that. While few shows have given me finales that wholly satisfied me, even fewer have given me finales that wholly dissatisfied me. However, PLL is up on the wholly dissatisfying list now.

Okay, also, what the hell happened to the Liars' mothers?! The Rosewood moms are arguably one of the best parts of Pretty Little Liars and after what happened to them in the penultimate episode of season 6a (someone, probably Cece, locked them in a basement), I was surprised that they weren't in the finale at all.

So, how do you deal with the heartbreak of a bad finale? Alternate theories, of course! I would've liked to see the show end after revealing that Charles DiLaurentis had been living amongst everyone as "Jason" for years while Rhys, that dude from the Carissimi Group, was the real Jason DiLaurentis, and had been covering for his brother Charles all this time while also supplying him with the money and resources he needed to do all his complicated "A" stuff. I think I'm just going to pretend that's what happened.

The mystery that I dragged along with me to, through, and after high school has been solved, but for pretty little payoff.