Unexpectedly Feminist Moments on Last Night’s Pretty Little Liars
11:20 am, June 26th | 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 6/25/13 episode, “Cat’s Cradle.”
Aria – “Don’t talk yourself out of something that you want and something you deserve.”
The good: “Is it weird to be jealous of your mom’s love life?” Yeah, Aria, that’s a little weird. But that’s okay, because your Mom seems super happy with her boyfriend Zack. It’s nice that the writers aren’t resorting to cliches like making Aria weirded out by Ella’s relationship with a younger guy. Love is love! Just ask J-Lo and her 16-year-old boyfriend. And I love Aria’s little inspirational speech at the end when she wants Ella to go on a year-long Austrian adventure. So many great lines here! My faves: 1) the quote above, 2) “Please do this; I need the inspiration,” and 3) “I’M ORDERING YOU TO FIND YOUR BLISS!” Ugh, love it. Now I’m just patiently waiting for the day to come when I can totally steal that line.
The bad: As much as I love mother-daughter inspiration, I really wish Aria were giving her mom a pep talk about seeking a promotion or something other than following her boyfriend to Vienna while he bakes pastries for a year. This doesn’t seem like a good example for Ella to set, especially since it has been demonstrated that her daughter has a long history of intense boyfriend dependency. Plus, Ella’s son Mike was inexplicably absent from Season 3, so she might want to, you know, FIND HIM before she heads off to Austria. And her first-born Aria will be heading off to college within that year, which is kind of a big deal, but oh wait never mind that probably won’t even happen because high school never ever ends for these girls. But at the end of the day it’s her life; motherhood definitely doesn’t have to define a woman, so if a Vienna adventure is what she really wants, then she should go for it.
Spencer – “I don’t know how [Toby's] mom fell, but I don’t think she jumped.”
The good: She and Toby broke into Radley, so that was pretty badass. I’m confused as to why there weren’t any patients around when they were creepin’ through the active mental institution, but whatevz. And they realized that the window his mom “jumped” from didn’t make any sense logistically, meaning that the file ‘A’ had given Toby was actually useful. Hooray for more mysterious nonsense! This is all I have to say about the good, though, because the rest is pretty bad.
The bad: Spencer REALLY needs to start standing up to her sister. Of all the girls on this show, Spencer seems the least likely to get pushed around, but there she goes again just letting Melissa walk all over her and casually mention that she’s conveniently going out of town forever again. Don’t be fooled by Melissa’s cute new haircut; some really creepy and ominous words came out of her mouth this episode. Take, “it might be time for us to both get out of this little town if we know what’s good for us.” And the fact that Hanna spotted her at the police station. And the fact that her face was a freakin’ mask in that back room. Also, what was that quote about not getting along with Spencer because they’re too similar? Isn’t that eerily similar to what Jake said to Aria while watching that film noir? What’s going on here!?
Emily – “The whole time I was thinking of Ali, and how this is what it must feel like to be buried alive.”
The good: Okay guys, help me out here. Is being told that your face “would make a great Medusa” by a creepy mask guy a compliment or an insult? The Greek mythology monster with snake-y hair and eyes that turn people into stone is undeniably a bad bitch, so I guess I’ll go with compliment…? Emily also took one for the team by actually letting the creepy mask guy make a mask of her face so Hanna could snoop around in the back. And when he took the plaster off her face, her eyelashes still looked absolutely flawless so good for you, Emily, for being so genetically blessed.
The bad: Em totally botched it with that doctor by accidentally admitting to taking her mom’s prescription painkillers. After four seasons of being a PRETTY LITTLE LIAR, you’d think she’d be good at lying by now but that was just plain awful. (Also, why wasn’t the doctor Wren? Someone needs to remind the writers of this show that the doctor is always Wren. Always.) She also got into a public fight with her mom at school and someone (read: ‘A’) called CPS. Yikes. And ‘A’ sent Aria a text saying, “Cleaning up Rosewood, one mean Mommy at a time,” so this does not look good for Emily’s mom. The only good news about this whole situation is that Emily’s dad will come home for a bit. Everything seems to be a little bit better in her world when he’s around.
Hanna - “What, we can’t make a move without Nancy Drew? I’m not waiting for Spencer because ‘A’ isn’t waiting for anyone.”
The good: YES! This girl was back on her A-game this week with the sass attacks. She totally called her Mom out for lying about her New York Minute that was allegedly spent “staring at the inside of a conference room” followed by a quick trip to a musical. Hanna noticed flowers on her mom’s desk at work and spotted the note in the trash can about how Ashley had missed the musical. (Because she was obviously chillin’ in Rosewood.) It seems weird that the note only mentioned the musical, though, right? Rosewood is supposed to be in the Philadelphia area, so how did she mange to only miss the musical? Hanna also snuck into the back room of the police station and realized that — gasp! — she and basically every character on the show are suspects for Wilden’s murder. #LiarsAreSuspects, the screen read dramatically. AND she also snuck into the back room of the creepy mask guy’s workspace and found a mask that looks just like Melissa. Go Hanna Go Hanna Go.
The bad: We know Hanna has major Daddy issues but she really should have had the common sense to alert him of the fact that she and her mom are in legal and physical danger. ”A’s going to make me look guiltier and guiltier until the cops start paying attention,” she said. After all, I think her dad is an attorney, so he could actually be of big help to them. Instead, her boyfriend Caleb took the initiative to talk to Mr. Marin, who acted like a total jackass (at first). I guess it’s only fitting that Caleb would do that, seeing as Hanna was always all up in Caleb’s biz about his own personal Daddy issues. SO. MANY. DADDY ISSUES.
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8:00pm EST on ABC Family.