Everyone has guilty little pleasures. One of mine was “Pretty Little Liars,” which premiered on ABC Family in 2010. (The channel switched to Freeform a few years back, but PLL made the leap, too.) The show — based on a series by Sara Shepard — finally ended in June 2017, but I was a dedicated follower, even when the show kind of jumped the shark its last season.
My friends and I would discuss the show’s twists and turns. It was a fun but trashy show. Trashy in a good way, though.
Showrunners decided to capitalize on the PLL fandom and created a new series based on another of Shepard’s series. Thus, “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” was born.
The show features two of the original series’ stars, Sasha Pieterse (Alison) and Janel Parrish (Mona), and a new cast of “liars,” including Sofia Carson (Ava), Sydney Park (Caitlin) and Eli Brown (Dylan). Alison and Mona work at Beacon Heights University, the first as a teaching assistant and the latter in admissions. Ava, Caitlin and Dylan are all students with one connection, Nolan Hotchkiss (Chris Mason), another student everyone loves to hate. (For my older — or cultured — readers, think J.R. Ewing in a 20-year-old body.)
“The Perfectionists” does feature a murder, which is similar to its predecessor. There’s also a mystery person who seems to know everyone’s secrets. In a way, it feels like the show is trying to use a winning formula, which is really smart. After all, the original series lasted seven seasons because fans ate that up. We loved the murders, the twists, turns and melodrama. It even has some of the same character types. Ava is quirky and definitely reminiscent of Aria (Lucy Hale). Even some of the characters favor PLL’s original actresses.
But, then there are times the show seems to do its best to set itself apart. One of the liars is a boy, for instance. There’s an organization, Beacon Guard, that seems to be watching everyone on campus. It’s a bit much. There’s also the fact that Alison is a TA — we never see the professor — who seems overly involved in her students’ lives. In today’s world, a teacher texting her students and inserting herself into their private lives isn’t really OK.
While Alison might be a bit of a creeper at times in “The Perfectionists,” one thing the show does well is let original PLL fans know what’s going on with original characters, whether it’s a discussion between Mona and Alison or a phone call between Mona and her old friend, Hanna (PLL’s Ashley Benson). The show seems to be trying its best to please old fans giving “The Perfectionists” a test drive and newbies to the franchise.
Bottom line: We’re a couple of episodes in, and I’m interested enough to keep watching. If you want insane melodrama, the original PLL — watch it on Netflix — is your best bet, but “The Perfectionists” will definitely scratch that itch. Plus, there’s lots of pie.
Speaking of pie …
Another guilty pleasure, “Supernatural,” just announced it’ll be ending its run after its 15th season comes to an end next year. Fifteen years, y’all. I hadn’t even moved to Maryville yet when the show debuted on the CW nearly two decades ago.
The genre-busting CW hit isn’t one of the highest-ranked shows on television, but it’s definitely got a cult following. The show’s leads, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, have certainly helped cultivate that fandom. At its core, “Supernatural” is a show rooted in paranormal fantasy. There are vampires, demons, djinn and even angels. (There was even an episode with fairies.) At this point, probably any fantastical creature you could think of has been mentioned or featured on the show.
But, it’s more than just beautiful men saving people and hunting things every week. Nothing can be taken at face value. Monsters aren’t just monsters, and plots are never simple. Even when the show has its off moments — season seven, I’m looking at you and Dick Roman specifically — it’s never completely jumped the shark.
Except when it did jump the shark, and it was amazing. Last season featured “Scoobynatural,” a crossover with the Scooby Doo gang. Season five featured “Changing Channels,” an episode where brothers Sam (Padalecki) and Dean (Ackles) were trapped in TV programs, including 1980s hit “Knight Rider.” That same season also featured “The Real Ghostbusters” where Sam and Dean end up at a “Supernatural” convention. It’s a long story on that one. A related episode would be in season 10, “Fan Fiction,” where the Winchesters find themselves at a “Supernatural” musical, with songs telling the story of their lives. These aren’t even the only weird, crazy imaginative episodes, but they’re all awesome.
Longtime readers may remember that Ackles has shown up more than once in my old columns. I’ve been a fan of his since roughly 1996 when he played Eric Brady on “Days of Our Lives.” Through the years, I’ve written about “Supernatural” conventions, the fact my old Daily Times co-workers had to stage an intervention to get me to take down a Dean calendar and the time a reader — thank you, Brandee! — sent one of my columns to Ackles’ bodyguard, netting me an autographed picture.
“Supernatural” and I have traveled a long road together, and I’ll be sad to see it end. The next-to-last season is currently airing on the CW, but you can catch up on the entire series through Netflix.