Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Post: Top Ten Reasons Why I Am in Love with Pretty Little Liars and Not Ashamed to Admit It

Today's post is from my friend Abby. She just acquired her B.A. in English Literature, and likes mashed potato sandwiches. I admire Abby's ability to love and accept no matter where people are in life. When presented with the offer to guest post, she was stumped for awhile, but I am so proud of what she shares! Read on, and enjoy! Comments are always welcome! 
My thirteen-year-old cousin introduced me to ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars two months ago, and two full seasons later I am hooked. When I tell people I love PLL, they usually give me either an understanding “guilty pleasure” laugh or they nod and raise their eyebrows, automatically reassessing their impression of me. I admit – when people told me they love the show before I’d actually seen it, I offered the exact same responses. I stand before you as a reformed believer with a list of why, despite those negative reactions, I love this show and you should too.
1.  It’s a murder mystery. Something weird is happening every episode. People break bones or die left and right. They’re trying to find out who killed their friend while being mercilessly followed and threatened by an anonymous person named “A.” Hello, need I say more?
2.  The four main characters are women. This is actually super rare. Think of how many TV shows feature primarily women. Now think about most of those shows’ reputations. Yeah. Not only does PLL have a heavily female cast, but Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily – as well as almost every other female character – are multi-dimensional. You’d be amazed how rarely we see female characters that aren’t all good or all bad. We still don’t often see women who have flaws but are still good people with full personalities. In other words, women who are fully human. The girls, as well as their peers and mothers, make mistakes and even hurt people intentionally, yet they also sacrifice themselves to protect others. What a relief it is to see women with both strengths and weaknesses, who are not wholly perfect or wholly imperfect.
3. They’re not only women – these four characters are teenage girls. One of the most hated demographics in America. Everything teen girls like, the rest of the country hates – Justin Bieber, Twilight, even Uggs and leggings. The fact that teen girls are the main characters without also being the butt of a national joke about the way they talk, act, dress, and spend their time is huge in and of itself. But PLL also gives these teens so much power. Completely deserved, I might argue. Think about it – how many people do you know that hate Twilight passionately? A lot? Doesn’t matter. Teenage girls helped the films alone make more than five billion dollars. And if it weren’t for teenage girls, Justin Bieber would still be some nobody freezing his butt off while making YouTube videos in Canada. Teenage girls have the power to rocket someone from anonymity to stardom, and that is terrifying. Imagine what they could do if we let them make the kind of decisions they are capable of.
4. The girls are the primary actors. By that I mean they are the ones facilitating the action. Their decisions propel the storyline. They’re the ones finding clues, solving mysteries, uncovering secrets and following shady characters. They use their intelligence and resources to progress in discovering who killed their friend Alison. Say what you want about their many agape facial expressions – that is pretty badass.
5.  PLL doesn’t avoid violence. The girls’ lives are often in serious danger. The main anonymous aggressor, “A,” doesn’t hold back his/her punches because he/she is after young girls. But that still doesn’t stop the girls from saving themselves and their loved ones over and over.
6.  It represents LGBT characters fairly and equally. Emily, one of the main characters, comes out of the closet in the first season and the show chronicles her journey with herself, her parents, her peers, and her love interests. She’s even shown in romantic scenes with her girlfriends just like the other girls are with their boyfriends. However:
7. Their love lives are not the primary focus. Sure, they have boyfriends (and girlfriends), but their purpose and airtime is not consumed by romance. In fact, most of the times relationships are discussed heavily are when the problem is how to keep their loved ones safe from “A.” Yet at the same time, the show gives them freedom to worry about little things like what to give their partner for their birthday. It makes sense – if there’s a murderer on the loose, is this really the time to be obsessed with Ezra/Caleb/Toby/Maya? This is not to say the girls stand alone – in fact:
8. The central relationship in the show is not romantic, but platonic: the four girls’ friendship. That’s the relationship tying the whole show together. And what an amazing friendship they have. So often we see depictions of girl friendships as full of cattiness, emotional manipulation, and competition. PLL reminds us that four teenage girls are capable of having a strong friendship, one in which the girls are honest, supportive, and not afraid to openly need one another. I wish I had seen this in high school.
9. It tackles the digital surveillance era head-on. We live in a time of the private becoming public. We put our lives online. Politicians’ pasts and presents are under constant scrutiny, and so are ours. In PLL, the girls are literally being watched 24/7. “A” sends them texts offering snarky comments on their every move, threatening to expose them or the people close to them. Sound familiar? In a time when it seems like we are already exposing everything, it calls to attention the crucial difference between exposing ourselves and being exposed without our consent. Appropriate, no?
10.  The name of the show itself deceives us. My mom listened to me rattle off this whole list of why PLL is such a great show before saying, “Alright, if it’s such a good show, why does it have such a stupid and belittling title?” I thought about it, and I think Pretty Little Liars speaks for itself. The title seems dismissive, weak, and petty – just as the characters, and all teenage girls, are dismissed. And just like we discover on the show, casting aside a story or entire group of people because they sound inconsequential is a mistake. So the harmless title Pretty Little Liars is itself a lie. I’m not trying to get you to like this show, but I do hate when people write it off as stupid and not worth their time. Don’t let yourself be deceived. What could you be missing?

If you want to read more on this, see the article that helped shape a lot of my own impressions, or get more info on the show, check this out.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Lonely

I pride myself on my ability to make friends. I always say I wish I could get paid for it. I love the rush I get at making a connection with people. A smile, a nod, an affirming word to the girl in the dressing room trying on a dress for her fiance's 10 year reunion. Speaking as an Extrovert, it does come second nature. But what some people wouldn't expect is the moments of loneliness I have.

I don't like to talk about it. It's scary. It's something that I'm legit ashamed of. I shouldn't feel lonely. I have a wonderful family, beautiful/talented friends who support me and a boyfriend who would pull the stars from the heavens for me if I asked.

The loneliness isn't just solitude. It's deeper than that. It's pain...sorrow. Explainable emotions that I stuff down lower because I'm supposed to be outgoing and smiling all the time. I don't get it, but I'll get through it somehow.

Being lonely in a full room is the worst. I hate that the most. Surrounded by a ton of faces and just being...lonely.

Did Jesus ever feel like this, I wonder?

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