The Perfectionists Review: An Addictive Follow-Up to Pretty Little Liars Express News
Pretty Little Liars was never a show anybody could take seriously.
From its questionable plot choices to the dreaded red herrings to the half-baked reveals, it could have passed as a sci-fi series because of the way the villains seemed to have superhuman abilities to remain one step ahead of the liars.
On Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, two old liars are joined by three new ones, and if you can suspend your disbelief, then there’s a show worth watching in there somewhere.
Moving the action to a college setting was a good move. Saying goodbye to the high-school setting gives the series an immediate edge over the original’s debut, but that’s not to say the show is not cliche-ridden and littered with some pretty little errors.
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At her core, Alison DiLaurentis was always a mean girl. She spent much of the latter half of Pretty Little Liars trying to get rid of that image, and while I do buy her as a teacher’s assistant, her past experience with stalkers is far too jarring for anybody to take her seriously.
She’s been used as a plot device to kick off this new mystery. On paper, it’s a great way to get old viewers to tune in for this spinoff, but it essentially took her happy ending with Emily Fields away from her.
It’s difficult to get on board with Ali leaving her children behind in Rosewood. It just feels so out of character. Alison struggled with abandonment issues on the OG series, so it’s hard to imagine her spending any length of time away from Rosewood.
That being said, the reason for the trouble in paradise between Emison is actually pretty warranted, and it will resonate with fans who loved the ‘Ship since it was first introduced.
There’s no cheating thrown in, so that’s a major positive.
It does, however, beg the question about how much Alison can realistically spend away from her family. It’s possible that the end of each season will focus on Alison returning home, but how long will Alison stay away from her kids.
Will Emily pop up with them at some point? Let’s face it, the only way Shay Mitchell is popping up on this series is via a cameo.
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Wherever Alison goes, drama seems to follow, and there’s some solid stuff for Sasha Pieterse to work with on the pilot. Alison was always a flawed character who struggled with her more mean-spirited side, and it’s nice that she’s trying to at least be nicer.
It’s just a shame that she’s been pulled into a brand new mystery thanks to the elusive Monda Vanderwaal.
Mona was mentally unstable throughout Pretty Little Liars’ seven-season run, and she’s just as crazy on this new series. As you will recall, Pretty Little Liars Season 7 wrapped with Mona in Paris with Mary and Alex Drake as her puppets.
It was ludicrous, but the new series does address that thanks to some throwaway dialog. Many thought that the puppet storyline was a figment of Mona’s imagination, and the good thing is that we get the answer to that early on.
Mona gets a fraction of the screen-time Alison does, and it was surprisingly okay. Mona is the master of telling people information on a need-to-know basis, and there’s definitely more to the story than her making her way to BHU after a sudden change in career.
The biggest shocker is that the new liars are all intriguing. Sofia Carson lights up the screen as Ava Jalali. Her backstory heartbreaking, and it gives her an immediate edge over the others.
Sydney Park turns in a convincing role as Caitlin Park-Lewis, a character that seems like a Spencer Hastings wannabe. While that’s not a bad thing, she needs some more material post-premiere to for me to make a much better judgment.
What I love about her character, in particular, is that there’s a darkness in there, and one of the returning liars picks up on it from the get-go. If it turns out that she has a twin a la Alex Drake, then I’ll probably quit the show.
I. Marlene King, take note!
Eli Brown is also solid as Dylan Walker. He’s the character that everyone essentially craps on because he’s so nice. He has a huge secret and it’s one that is probably going to make viewers love or hate him.
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He does have a lot of screentime, but he needs to show that he has a backbone at some point. We need more intel on his past to fully understand his motives for being happy in his circle of friends.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is all about pushing people to their limits. That’s what being a student at BHU is all about. Excellency is required, and when people are pushed to extremes, they can snap.
Well, that appears to be what the mystery is trying to feed us.
The weak link as far as the characters go is Nolan Hotchkiss. He was a difficult character to get a read on, and I’m not sure whether the other characters were so well-developed in comparison to him that he was lost in translation.
His character is reminiscent of Alison DiLaurentis circa Pretty Little Liars Season 1, but he lacks that spark she had.
Kelly Rutherford is on board as his mother, Claire Hotchkiss, a woman who seems way too involved in what these young twenty-somethings are getting up to.
Rutherford excelled on both Gossip Girl and Dynasty, but it appears that she’s playing the same role she played on both those shows.
As a whole, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists has learned a lot from the mistakes of Pretty Little Liars. There was a lot of exposition in the pilot, and most of it was necessary.
That’s a good start, and the mystery surrounding what’s going on at the college is sure to keep fans tuned in at least for the first season. It may well be Freeform’s next big hit.
It’s sexy, provocative and sure to start a conversation.
Hopefully, I. Marlene King has the plot mapped out for future seasons, and that the reveals actually live up to the hype.
A lot of returning viewers are not going to give the show a lot of time to hook them. There will be a curiosity factor for sure, and it could become one of Freeform’s most-watched series.
Remember you can watch Pretty Little Liars online right here via TV Fanatic. You know, if you want to relive the past.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists debuts March 20 on Freeform.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.