Monday, September 28, 2015

My Favorite Media

Hey, I'm back after three long years. Since nobody reads my blog anyway, it will be turned into a landing space for posts for my media class. Who knows, maybe in the future I'll continue writing. But for now, enjoy.

My Favorite Media

My favorite media is the TV show Pretty Little Liars (PLL). Based on and inspiring the continuation of the bestselling novels by Sara Shepard, PLL is  “set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania…[following] the lives of four girls whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison DiLaurentis. One year later, the estranged friends are reunited as they begin receiving messages from a mysterious figure named "A" who threatens to expose their deepest secrets, including ones they thought only Alison knew. At first, they think it's Alison herself, but after her body is found, the girls realize that someone else is planning on ruining their lives” (Wikipedia). Despite being catered to  a young audience, PLL offers something for everyone. Pretty Little Liars is one of my favorite shows because it is exciting, relatable, and a pioneer in social media.

PLL is exciting to watch and its gripping story lines keep pulling me back every week. The show is full of suspense, mystery, and drama. Every season has new mysteries and surprises around every corner. One week might have you hating and suspecting one character, but sympathizing with and loving the next. Tara Aquino of Complex magazine said it best when she described the show as “... a contemporary, live-action game of Clue, with undeniably gorgeous suspects, that doesn’t quite let you win just when you think you have all the hints you need to unmask the murderer”.

But, beyond the surface, the show also explores love, identity, loyalty, and friendship. Love is a big part of the subplots of PLL. When not solving mysteries, each of the girls at one point of another struggles with their relationship to their significant other. One of the main characters, Aria Montgomery, for example, engages in a relationship with whom she later discovers is her English teacher. And a big subplot of this storyline deals with not only right and wrong, and whether or not they can have their restricted love, but also with the complexities within each character that make their relationship unique. Identity also plays a big part in the show. Beyond the obvious identity of “A”, it is a central theme explored by the character Emily Fields. As soon as the first episode does she start to struggle with her sexuality, something that a lot of people today can relate to. Her journey is honest and true to life, something that many fans can connect with and appreciate. It is things like this that add a kind of depth and character that make the show universally appealing and something that fans can be passionate about.

Also, in addition to playing friends on TV, the actresses also have an authentic friendship off-screen, which enhances their performance. It is refreshing to see such a strong bond portrayed on TV. No matter the lies, secrets, sabotage, and betrayal that they inflict upon each other or try to pull them apart, the girls always come back to each other. Take away the weird murders, questionable motives, paranoia, torment, and bullying, the show’s main characters are just teenagers trying to make sense of themselves. And that, I think, is something we can all relate to.

“Everyone in Rosewood lies, but these girls are always there for each other, and nothing will come between them. They truly prove that there is no greater “ship” than the friendship” (Jaymie, Alloyentertainment).

But the main reason why I regard it to be my favorite media is because it is something that not only emcompasses and dominates its primary medium, but it also perfectly combines it with the tools of social media to create an industry leading phenomenon. It carries the title of television’s “most social” program, with over 13.8 million fans on facebook, 3.09 m followers on Twitter, and 3.6 m followers on Instagram. The show holds the record for the top 6 most tweeted about scripted TV telecasts of all time, and is both Instagram and Pinterest’s #1 most followed scripted TV series (Disneyabcpress). The summer finale of Pretty Little Liars became the most tweeted TV series telecast of the summer” and cable TV’s second most tweeted episode of 2015, amassing over 1.6 million tweets and “accounting for 50% of all Twitter TV activity for the day” (Kissell, Variety).

Now, I'm not saying other shows didn't do this before Pretty Little Liars came along, but as a show geared toward  teenage girls and young adults, it was especially suited for the culture of today’s youth and expertly took advantage of it. Pretty Little Liars transformed the way the public consumed and interacted with television and social media. Before PLL, celebrities and television were out of reach and viewers merely accepted the content shown to them. As PLL developed, they saw potential in interactions between fans, and creators and created a new way of watching shows through such strategies as the use of hashtags, live tweeting, challenges, and encouragement of fan engagement. This not only promoted the show, but also allowed ordinary people to react in real time to the programming and to create a buzz that before this, was only present during the large, national events like the super bowl or award shows. It is truly mind blowing the footprint it has on social media and  impact it has been on the industry.

However, what really surprises me is it’s steady popularity throughout the years, because, at times, the show can get a little ridiculous. It seems as if there's a new plot twist every month, and an episode is not complete without at least one "gasp" from a character or the discovery of another dead body. As the series progresses, its writing and direction has become extremely frustrating and convoluted. The spring finale was especially infuriating for many viewers, who showed their discontent online at the series’ big “reveal”.

And my favorite tweet:

But despite all of this, as many fans can attest to, there's something about the show that fosters a strong loyalty that always keeps me coming back for more.

In conclusion, Pretty Little Liars is my favorite media because it delivers fresh, interesting, and addicting content, and because it is the most phenomenally socially engaged television show of all time. Granting the questionable plot choices by the writers at times, Pretty Little Liars remains one of my favorite shows to watch.

Pretty Little Liars returns for season 6B in January, 2016.
Watch, don't wait.

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