Waiting for the season 6 summer premier of Pretty Little Liars on ABCFamily is agonizing. We thought we’d have some respite following the #BigAReveal which ended up being a pretty great episode but not exactly satisfactory, reveal-wise.
But there’s no reason why life should stop until we’re finally told, once and for all, #WhoIsA and #WhoIsCharles (I have my theories). In the meantime, we deserve to be emotionally messed with in the manner which we’re accustomed to. I’m going to give you some insight on which shows have the plot twists, characters and stories to do so.
Watching the series premiere of How to Get Away With Murder, I felt the familiar anxiety, confusion and need for answers that accompanies a forty-two minute dose of PLL. As three (not one, not two, but THREE) intricate murder plots were woven and weaved and painted and sculpted in front of me, I knew that this was a show that would make me keep coming back for more, as Liars has done for five seasons now. It’s not a choice, it’s a need.
Picture this: four pretty, young things looking panicked and scared. It’s nighttime in Pennsylvania and these four have just done something unspeakable. Have they MURDERED someone? Who? Why? How? FLASHBACK- three months earlier. No explanations. Sound familiar? Remind you of a stormy night in a barn in Pennsylvania when four different pretty, young things, looking panicked and scared, discovered that their best friend was missing only to find out that she was murdered? What? She was murdered? By whom? Why? How? NO EXPLANATIONS.
It seems to all lead back to one thing for both shows. I am going to call this plot device Laura Palmer syndrome because Twin Peaks did it first. A young girl is missing and the case is surrounded by mysterious characters and sinister motives. Anyone you ask will tell you that Laura Palmer/Alison DiLaurentis/Lila Stangard was a good girl: popular with her classmates, well-liked by the community and headed towards a bright future. Further digging, however, uncovers a prostitution ring/vast amounts of blackmail/drug trafficking. What I’m saying is this: it doesn’t matter who the girl was who went missing, or even what she did to get herself dead (because usually she has it coming, let’s be real). What matters is what happens to the people who are affected by the disappearance. The metaphorical Laura Palmer is a plot device — one that PLL and HTGAWM both employ with skill.
It’s true, that How To Get Away With Murder deals with grown up stuff like law school while the girls in Pretty Little Liars are still taking their sweet time graduating from high school. PLL definitely exercises our fashion sense more than HTGAWM will. But the two shows share more than a missing blonde girl and the use of acronyms. Both shows are plot driven and character central. Both have couples we’re rooting for and relationships we’re rooting against. They both expand television’s representation of the LGBTQ community in positive ways. Each has those really ridiculous moments in the plot which cause you to stop and think, “this would never actually happen.” And the case for both shows is that you’re willing to ignore the skepticism, accept the incredulous nature of it all and, after a while, welcome the absurdity willingly.
So, what’s that, Shonda Rhimes, creator of HTGAWM? You’re not going to hand us, the viewers, motive, means and opportunity with a nice, shiny bow on top? Well, that’s actually just perfect because we’re seasoned professionals of suspense. Your pilot is child’s play compared to last year’s PLL finale. Or the year before that. Or the year before THAT. Bring it.
Buy How To Get Away With Murder now on Hulu Plus
2. Eye Candy
This show is like PLL but with WAY more blood (and not quuuuuite as good acting).
Another teenage girl gone missing. (Being sixteen is dangerous, seriously.) Someone in a hoodie abducts her (sound familiar?) while her big sister, Lindy, watches helplessly.
Three years later, Lindy signs up for Tinder (basically, but they call it Flirtual which is pretty catchy) and starts getting threatening texts. From a serial killer. The idea of a social media serial killer is absolutely fascinating and so relevant to right now.
This is not a show to watch alone at night. I’m currently watching it and it’s, like, dusk-ish, and that’s too dark. Watch it at noon, with a fully charged phone and preferably with multiple people at home with you. Like a party. Watch Eye Candy during a daytime party.
The one thing that Eye Candy seems to get is that, when you’re being stalked, threatened and hunted, you should probably alert the authorities. While Lindy doesn’t exactly trust the cops, she doesn’t cover up her “A” ‘s crimes (which always makes everything worse) either. But then, if it were me, I’d lock myself in a panic room. Or move far, far away.
Blasting through the first season of Eye Candy will be super cathartic for a PLL fan because you’re actually given answers. And you won’t have to wait six seasons for them, because Eye Candy wasn’t renewed. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this is it.
Stream Eye Candy now on Hulu Plus
3. Twin Peaks
The original missing girl in a mysterious town with sketchy people and bad intentions plot. Laura Palmer was the original Alison DiLaurentis. On the surface, she was the perfect popular girl. But she was up to no good and many people wanted to see her shut up.
Twin Peaks is so amazingly classic from its Microsoft Word title logo to the iconic theme song. Though it jumped the shark before the series ended, Twin Peaks was, in many ways, a game-changer for television drama. Laura Palmer and Special Agent Dale Cooper proved that an audience would stick by to see a mystery unravel over the course of multiple seasons. But what’s more, the show has one of the most unique cast of characters to ever be written.
There has been much talk about a Twin Peaks revival and, if that comes to happen, you’re going to want to be ready.
Quick tip: have some pie around when you’re getting ready to binge watch Twin Peaks. Thank me later.
Stream Twin Peaks now on Netflix Instant or Hulu Plus
4. Orphan Black
Orphan Black? you ask. One of these is not the same. I acknowledge that Orphan Black doesn’t really fit in with the Good Girl Gone Dead theme that these other shows share and maybe you’d think a show like The Killing would be better suited for this slot.
But I maintain that fans of PLL will ardently love Orphan Black regardless of lack of dead/missing 16 year old because, at the end of the day, we watch Pretty Little Liars because we love the Liars. They have individual personalities and unique wants and needs but they share a badass sister bond that’s unbreakable. Orphan Black is all about the badass chicks with unique personalities.
Orphan Black definitely has enough intrigue to hook a fan of PLL and it also has plenty of pretty people, even if most of them are Tatiana Maslany.
Stream Orphan Black now on Amazon Prime
5. Veronica Mars
Here’s the thing about Veronica Mars. It’s my favorite show of all time. Nothing’s going to replace it.
Here’s another thing about Veronica Mars. A lot of your favorite actors got their start here.
If I was forced to pick one season of any show to put in a time capsule, or one season of any show to bring on a desert island, or one season of any show to live in, it would be the first season of Veronica Mars.
Kristen Bell plays the title character, a popular girl turned outcast whose best friend was murdered. Her dad was the sheriff until he was kicked out of office following the murder. He opens a private detective agency (obviously) and goes from authority figure to coolest PI ever. Veronica’s mom up and abandons the family for basically no reason. Veronica goes to a party to prove that she doesn’t care what her peers think and ends up drugged and raped.
It’s a rough year.
But instead of crying over her bad luck, Veronica gets a taser and goes looking for answers.
Veronica Mars uses her own resources to investigate the unsolved case and be a general kickass lady. There’s an episode-long mystery within just about every episode but Veronica never loses sight of what’s most important to her: finding her best friend’s killer.
This show also features my ultimate OTP and my favorite snarky quotes of all time.
Veronica Mars ended too soon when it fell victim to the creation of The CW. Fans mourned for years before we decided to pay for a movie ourselves. We broke kickstarter records.
If you want to come over and watch Veronica Mars, that invitation is literally always open. Call me.
Stream Veronica Mars now on Amazon Prime