Unexpectedly Feminist Moments on Last Night’s Pretty Little Liars
11:36 am, July 24th | by Grace Rasmus
Simply based off the name, Pretty Little Liars seems like a totally superficial TV show. Even the most devoted fans can probably admit that there are better things for us to do on our Tuesday nights than wonder how yet another Rosewood local managed to get murdered, who “Red Coat” really is, and how the girls all have SO MUCH free time before school every morning, but this is the life we’ve chosen to live. Besides, we can console ourselves with the notion that this isn’t just trashy TV — there are actually a surprising number of badass, feminist moments on the show. In this series, we will separate the PLL garbage from the PLL girl power. Here’s a recap of the 7/23/13 episode, “Crash and Burn, Girl!”
Emily – “The only way we’re getting Hanna through this is together.”
The good: Emily has been acting very Spencer-like lately by dreaming up and pulling off super sneaky stunts. In this episode, her sneakiness manifested in the form of stealing Wilden’s apartment key from her mom’s desk at the police station. “We’re breaking into Wilden’s apartment,” Emily told Spencer and Aria confidently as she strutted into the room. It was pretty cool that they managed to pull that whole ordeal off; they also discovered some interesting things: 1) Wilden didn’t have many “knick-knacks” in his apartment, implying he didn’t spend much time there, 2) he was super into porn, and 3) he was getting messages from ‘A’ too. Emily also offered to pay for her shoulder medication herself, knowing that money is tight in her family and insurance is lame. Although her offer was dismissed, it was still pretty cool of her to step up like that. But my favorite moment was when she told off some guys who were being jerks to Aria, using a sassy anti-creep line that never fails, “CAN I HELP YOU!?”
The bad: Alas, Emily’s key-stealing backfired because she’s apparently incapable of pulling any ‘A’-ish stunts without it totally blowing up in her face. (See: “guilty” police mask video thing.) Emily didn’t bother to return Wilden’s apartment key in time and managed to get her mother suspended from the police force for losing it. And then, in possibly the most bizarre turn this season, as punishment for Emily snooping around Wilden’s apartment, ‘A’ sends a runaway car barreling through the front of her house, almost hitting/killing Mrs. Fields in the process. Jeez Louis! I guess ‘A’ isn’t bothering with subtlety anymore, huh?
Hanna – “Stop making that face; that’s your bad news face.”
The good: Spencer walked in on Hanna forging her mom’s signature on the electricity bill so that she “wouldn’t have to come home to a dark house.” Although she is clearly in denial about the gravity of her mom’s situation, it was still pretty sweet. I also really liked the part where Ashley asked Hanna to bring her grandmother’s old watch to court so Ashley could wear it at the trial. “Mrs. Marin was such a tough ol’ broad and I was hoping some of that would rub off on me. I could really use that right now,” Ashely said, teary-eyed after Hanna told her she couldn’t wear jewelry. That’s the exact same reason why I wear my late grandmothers’ bracelets and it really does help sometimes, so I hope they find a way to sneak the watch to Ashley.
The bad: To everyone’s surprise, Hanna went to school the day after her mom got arrested. When Ezra asked if she was okay, Hanna revealed that she is oblivious when it comes to literature. “Everywhere I go people are staring at me all judgey-eyed like the lady in that book,” she said, blissfully unaware that there are many different ladies in many different books. Oh, Han, I know you’re going through a lot right now, but you probably shouldn’t make half-assed literary references to an English teacher if you don’t know what you’re talking about. At least she sincerely thanked Ezra for “just being a really decent guy;” that’s probably the most accurate way to describe Ezra. (Scroll down to Aria’s segment for other random acts of Fitz-y decency.)
Aria - “I guess Connor figured that since I dated an older guy I would do just about anything with anyone.”
The good: Aria’s “AS IF!” shirt at the beginning of the episode didn’t get much face time, but it was brilliant while it lasted and totes apropros considering the unwanted attention she’s been getting from younger guys lately. She was honest with her dad about the rumors spreading about her, and he seemed to take it well, so kudos to Aria for having that conversation with her father about that because it definitely wasn’t easy. On top of all that mess, Aria’s brother may or may not have taken a bat to Connor’s car, and the principal questioned Aria about her brother’s medication, which is a big no-no that Ezra recognized and confronted the principal about, saving Mike from expulsion. “I’m really glad you swooped,” Aria said, referencing her previous line that Ezra couldn’t be the guy to swoop in and make her feel better anymore, and proceeding to not make out with him.
The bad: Aria lied to the principal about Mike’s whereabouts on the night Connor’s car got busted because she was scared that he might have actually done it. This didn’t seem to come back to haunt her, but it totally could have, so that was not a smooth move. She was also super judgey about Wilden’s porn collection when they broke into his apartment and wouldn’t stop talking about it. “Hmm, what do I want to watch tonight: Jimmy Kimmel or boobs?” she said, imitating him. I mean, I know he was a huge creep overall, but he probably didn’t count on a bunch of high school girls raiding his man-cave after he died.
Spencer – “We’re breaking out the big guns: cake frosting and a spoon.”
The good: Spencer made amends with Emily for the sake of helping Hanna get through everything. (I can’t even remember why exactly they were mad at each other but apologies are always good, right?) She didn’t really do much else in this episode, so let’s focus on Toby and Caleb and their semi-genius, semi-bromantical, totally secret plan to track down Red Coat. They bribed Nigel, a blonde guy who works at the private plane terminal, for information on a plane that they thought Red Coat took. Nigel told them that it was super foggy that day and he didn’t know much about the flight, but then Toby and Caleb realized that they had been duped and Nigel was actually the pilot of that plane! They went back there to rough him up a little bit and Nigel admitted that CeCe Drake was the one who put him up to it and he really didn’t know much else. Back to Spencer, Toby bragged to Caleb that his girlfriend could quote entire books in two different languages, proving once and for all that intelligence is indeed sexy.
The bad: Spencer told Hanna that she overheard her lawyer mother saying that it would’ve been better if Ashley had murdered Wilden, because then she could plead self-defense (about 20 years in prison), instead of first-degree murder (life in prison… “or worse”). :(. Hanna knows ‘A’ has set Ashley up so elaborately that no one would believe her mom if she pleaded not guilty, so after an understandable cry-sesh, Hanna decided that her mom should plead guilty even though she didn’t do it. We can all see it coming from a mile away that this is going to backfire so hard. Spencer probably should have seen this coming, so she should have kept that information to herself to keep Hanna from doing something incredibly stupid.
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8:00 EST on ABC Family.