Pretty Little Liars is the best show your 14-year old cousin is watching that you should be, too. With its mix of Twin Peaks-style suspense and peak Gossip Girl-level drama, it's easily one of the most compelling, marathon-worthy shows making you stay up way past your bedtime (even though you don't have one, because you're a grown-up).
Hanna, Spencer, Aria, and Emily are best friends who are picking up the pieces of their lives after the mysterious death of Alison, the leader of their shiny-haired pack. A year after her disappearance, the Liars are plagued by a mysterious figure named 'A,' who communicates via text message and the occasional death threat. 'A' knows all of their secrets, sees through their lies, and uses a particular kind of torture each season to bring the characters to their knees.
The tension of the show lies in the Liars unmasking 'A,' but teamwork isn't really the name of the game for this group. Neither Emily nor Aria are strong enough to anchor the Liars, leaving smarty-pants Spencer and unassuming Hanna to be the two to take charge, but who among the two will actually lead the girls to uncover their terrorizer's identity? Who among the girls is the smartest Liar?
The Netflix Debate Club is a weekly Kinja debate where writers face off about the most polarizing aspects of their favorite shows — and want you to join in.
THIS WEEK'S TV SERIES: Pretty Little Liars
THE DEBATERS: Megan Reynolds (The Billfold, The Frisky) & Claire Lobenfeld (Myspace, Complex)
Megan: I am an inveterate Hanna apologist — I don't think she gets enough credit. From the beginning of the series, she's painted as the dumb blonde and the punch line of every joke. But I think she really comes into her own near the end of the third season, when Spencer goes off the rails. Part of Hanna's appeal is that she's the underdog. You want to root for her because you know that she means well, and because she's the sole voice of reason in the group. Emily's not the brightest, Aria's too in it with Fitz, and Spencer is sharp, but constantly teetering on the edge of instability. Hanna speaks her mind, she's down for whatever, and most importantly, she's deeply, deeply invested in unmasking 'A.' Her resourcefulness, her dependable nature and her ride-or-die ethos is what makes her my top pick for the best — and maybe the smartest — Liar.
Claire: Sometimes it's OK to settle for the obvious answer, so for me, despite Hanna's cunning, Spencer is the smartest Liar. She's not just a heavily pressured overachiever, she actually has a hunger for knowledge, and that's part of what keeps her motivated to to find out who 'A' is. Both girls are deft at combatting heartbreak, but Spencer trudges through emotional trenches for the benefit of the group. And though she's got more family issues than any other teen girl on television, she manages to use that turmoil to help her investigation. Even when she's one step away from falling over the edge, she's still trying to crack the case.
Who do you think will be the Liar to uncover the identity of the elusive A? Is one of the girls smarter than the others? Is Pretty Little Liars secretly the best show on television?