PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: THE PERFECTIONISTS Season 1 is a slow burn but a strong start to the series

Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is the second spin-off of the popular drama mystery series which sees an all new town, a mostly new cast, and a couple of familiar faces at the forefront of the season’s events.

Set in Beacon Heights, the unexpected murder of a student unleashes a slew of lies, secrets, and mysteries that the town and each of the characters have been hiding. Friends Ava (Sofia Carson), Caitlin (Sydney Park), and Dylan (Eli Brown) are focused on solving the murder with familiar faces Alison (Sasha Pieterse) and Mona (Janel Parrish) possibly doing their part.

The pilot episode kicks off all of the events of the season with the inciting incident and leads into the aftermath of this event and how certain characters are going to be affected. However this aftermath takes a little while to heat up and is a pretty slow burn for much of the first half of the season. It’s clear from very early on that it’s in no rush to really up the stakes and any time it tries to do so it doesn’t really pay off. The majority of the season is pretty slow and mellow in its build-up with little to no intensity in the story being introduced. It’s not that the first half of the season is bad, because it isn’t, it’s just that the mystery at hand doesn’t take a leap to the next level until very late in the season.

In the meantime episodes are filled with minor mystery reveals and furthering the smaller individual character arcs in which everyone has a secret… or two. It’s classic teen drama mystery and romance stuff, it’s engaging and keeps you watching, but you can’t help but thinking how long they can keep this up before taking things up a notch-kiss. Thankfully the season does reach that point and it makes the journey worth it, however it’s not all smooth sailing as a lot of the season is filled with cello renditions of Lady Gaga hits for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, Dylan is a talented character, but there’s only so much you can take before you’re over it.

One thing I feel like the show is missing this season is personality. It’s lacking that spark that makes you excited to see the characters and follow their stories. There are hints of it through some character interactions but for the most part it all seems pretty mellow throughout. The two exceptions are with Alison and Mona where, every second that these two are on-screen, the show is instantly more engaging. They just have a radiating personality that no-one else really gives off consistently. If you asked me to pick a favourite character of the new bunch, I couldn’t, as I don’t feel like they’re as interesting as Alison and Mona.

As far as the performances go they’re all solid and everyone plays their respective characters well. As I mentioned, none are as inspired as the performances from both Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parish, but they work for who their characters are. I feel like Carson, Park, and Brown did what they could to bring more life and emotion to their roles, however it wasn’t enough for any of them to really stand out. There are some emotional moments that suffered and I didn’t buy into as the performances weren’t strong enough to sell me on them. But they’re minor moments that didn’t impact my overall enjoyment.

The season ends on a definite high note, with what are the two best episodes of the season for sure. The stakes are heightened going into a possible second season and characters are left in a spot where I see them being able to grow a lot more than they did this season. The series hasn’t been renewed yet but I suspect it will be and I’m actually looking forward to seeing where they take it.

7/10

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