I started watching Pretty Little Liars when it first aired, but two seasons in, I was busy dealing with a divorce and trying to live through the Ontera divestment, which was part of the past Ontario liberal scandals at the time. I realized I hadn't gotten to watch it all the way through.
If you haven't seen it, usual coming of age hijinks take dark turns and they often have no choice but to continue covering up one lie with another. This continually escalates until something bad happens.
Age gaps are a recurring topic. Aria's dad, Aria and Ezra, Aria's mom, and Hanna's mom. If I recall correctly, gaps were a bigger deal in those days, though I suppose some people still care about that now.
There is a lot of trauma and the girls never really get time to heal from all that they go through, yet they manage to dig deep and continue doing what they have to because of the support they get from each other.
Fashion is a prominent element. The girls are nearly always well-dressed with their hair, makeup, and nails on point. Some of the liars just like to wear the best outfits and others want to set trends and create ripples in the industry. I'm so jealous of their wardrobes!
The messaging about several sensitive topics like homosexuality, was handled very well. While Emily wasn't initially accepted by her parents, they eventually came around. Her friends always had her back.
Friendship was an integral part of the show. The girls loved each other deeply even when they were mad at each other for the dumb mistakes they often made. I think it was easier for them to forgive each other because they were dealing with something only they could understand, so it was critical to stay together.
I'm conflicted about the final season. Part of me feels like it should have ended before the time jump, but I kind of like the final twists in the story.
Overall, I loved everything Emily, but I felt many of her partners were awful and that she deserved better. Aria had moments of intelligence, but made the worst decisions and could be quite dumb for someone who reads so much. I enjoyed a lot of her aesthetic and her love for books. Hanna had the best character arc and was more intelligent than she was often given credit for. I related least to Spencer and I suppose that is because I come from a blue collar family that isn't nearly as messed up. The characters could be quite surprising. I truly enjoyed the surprises along the way that challenged my own thinking.