My infatuation with the Pretty Little Liars world began when the first book was published back in 2006. My best friend Cat and I would borrow each other’s copies and plot theories of who the killer might be during Economics class. If you are a fan of the show or just a bored teenage girl who just discovered there are only two good seasons of Veronica Mars, I highly recommend sprinting to your nearest library and checking those books out before your little sister’s friends get their grubby middle school hands all over them (do you remember your middle school backpack? Exactly).
Due to my hardcore fangirl love over the book series, it was a while before I got around to actually watching the TV show of the same name which debuted summer of 2010. I saw Pretty Little Liars as the High-School-Nina identity I shed for the cooler and edgier College-Nina that read serious books and sad music and certainly didn’t watch anything that played on ABC Family. But now, after countless sleepless nights of watching Caleb’s majestic mane and Hanna staring longingly at Emily, I’m hooked. And I can’t help but notice eerie similarities between Pretty Little Liars and the 1990 cult classic, and another favorite of mine, Twin Peaks.
For starters, both series revolve around the murder of a beautiful young popular blonde girl (Pretty Little Liars: Alison, Twin Peaks: Laura). And, of course, it’s discovered these beauty queens were naughtier than their tiara-smile appearances showed them to be. Both girls shared an equal amount of enemies as friends, with just as blurry lines between the two. These love/hate relationships lead to a long list of suspects. And boy, are these shows overflowing with characters. Though Pretty Little Liar’s main focus is on Ali’s four closest friends, I find the suspect list on this show to be just as massive and confusing as Twin Peaks’. Pretty Little Liars might not have a log lady, but they do have a creepy red-headed kid that looks like an escaped extra from Children of the Corn.
Not to mention, both shows also share the doppelganger theme concerning their deceased leading ladies. In Twin Peaks, Laura’s cousin, Mandi (played by the same actress) stays with Laura’s parents to help with their loss and to also find out who murdered her cousin. Meanwhile, countless Pretty Little Liars episodes show the Liars having “hallucinations” of Alison, which could mean she might still be alive or something much worse.
Some might argue that Twin Peaks is more absurd, with its strange music and supernatural themes as just a few examples. Sure, Pretty Little Liars will most likely play some Adam Lambert song during its dramatic pauses, but I just see that as a more modernized version of the ’50s teeny bopper songs Audrey would dance to in the RR Diner. Sure, Lynch’s beauties stood out from the sea of neon permeating through the early ’90s with their wool skirts and earth-toned sweaters. And to the untrained eye, the clothes on Pretty Little Liars might seem like the same generic wardrobe shared with One Tree Hill. But a true fan will be able to differentiate each Liar just by their shoes or the lengths of their sleeves. Aria’s outrageous clothes are enough reason to watch this show, just to see what feathered hair contraption or shiny pleather skirt she will wear next. Pretty Little Liars also plays up the supernatural by showing talking dolls and haunted runways. They even have a special mid season Halloween special, where pretty much all bets are off and you can end up stabbing your way out of a coffin before being thrown off a train. While I don’t think ABC Family would ever go as far as to show the violence that Twin Peaks was able to get away with, nevertheless, just as equally horrific acts are implied throughout the show.
The most interesting similarity that I found is that both shows have an omnipresent evil force that drives the plot and affects every single character. In Twin Peaks, this evil is referred to as “Bob,” who takes pleasures in possessing people and hanging out at a place called the Black Lodge. In Pretty Little Liars, the four girls (and theories suspect even more characters in the show) are being threatened and harassed via cell phone by an unknown entity simply called “A” who has an affinity for using the word “Bitches” as many times in a text as possible. These malevolent ghosts cause harm and trauma among the other characters, and turn the creepy dial way up.
I know most indie kids would rather eat their ironic ugly sweaters than equate an ABC Family show to David Lynch, but I think it’s awesome. I view Pretty Little Liars as Twin Peaks‘ misunderstood little sister who likes to shop at Forever21 and drink Starbucks. Sure, she’s probably not gonna make Dean’s list, but she sure is a heck of a lot more fun to hang out with.
Nina K. Guzman is a freelance writer who has had her work published in Autostraddle, Thought Catalogue and XOJane. She’s obsessed with all things feminism, pop culture and corgis. Originally from Puerto Rico, she now resides in New York City as an intern for BUST magazine. You can follow her on Twitter, her Tumblr or her blog .
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