A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is a mature soap opera centered around dark deeds at an upscale university. The show is a continuation of the original Pretty Little Liars, and ages the main characters up to college age, so expect content that's at least as mature as in the first series. Murder and suicide are central to the plot, and occasional shocking and horrifying developments are to be expected. Scenes may feature disturbing visuals, like one lengthy shot from the first episode that shows a character impaled on a pointy iron fence with the points protruding from his bloody T-shirt. Same- and opposite-sex kissing is common; characters are also shown before and after sex, in bed with sheets covering private parts but lots of bare skin. Iffy behavior like theft, illicit romances, bullying, coercion, and manipulation is also common, though characters often get comeuppance for their choices. Adults drink at dinners, parties, and other social events, and may make poor decisions while drinking. Language includes "damn," "hell," "a--hole," "bitch," and "douche." Characters are duplicitous; expect few role models.
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What's the story?
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: THE PERFECTIONISTS moves the Pretty Little Liars action from Rosewood, PA, to Beacon Heights, an idyllic and well-heeled college town with a perfect surface that hides (of course!) dark secrets. Fresh from a failed relationship, Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) is new in town, starting as a TA at the upscale Beacon Heights University. She's shocked to find out that Mona (Janel Parrish), the main villain of the original Pretty Little Liars, has extricated herself from certain ... complications, and is behind Alison's new position. But that little wrinkle is nothing compared to mysteries Alison finds at school, where Ava (Sofia Carson), Caitlin (Sydney Park), and Dylan (Eli Park) all revolve around the malevolent-seeming rich boy Nolan (Chris Mason), whose family has a strange connection with the university. When students start winding up dead, it'll take everything Alison has to solve the mystery -- without getting sucked in herself.
Is it any good?
This revamp ably recaptures the glossy suspense soap opera tone of the original, linking the action to what's gone before while introducing a raft of compelling new characters. As in the first series, closet skeletons abound in Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists: secret romances, secret pasts, secret identities, secret plans. Plot developments generally occur when someone overhears something they shouldn't, or glimpses something mysterious out of a window. And there's no college get-together too casual for a skin-tight dress and a pair of five-inch heels.
But despite the lived-in genre conventions, there are smart storytellers spinning a web here. Whereas the mysteries of the first series mainly turned on the machinations of madly vengeful Mona, this follow-up sees your Mona and raises the stakes by revealing a strange surveillance system that's watching everyone and everything at Beacon University, manned by dark forces and intent on some dark business. Adding a Big Bad on top of the sordid things people do to each other on these types of teen soaps? Positively inspired. Guilty pleasure, here we come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying. What instances of bullying exist in Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists? What different forms can bullying take? Is any one form more or less harmful than another? What role does technology play in bullying now?
Teens: Do you think this series paints an accurate portrait of college life? Are the characters' troubles relatable to you? Why or why not? What kinds of stereotypes does this show reinforce or challenge? How does what you see of college life on TV or in movies influence your own life? Parents: Talk to teens about the role models and messages in shows like this.
How do your relationships with your friends compare to those of the main characters? Are there things you'll discuss with your friends but not your parents? To whom would you turn if you were in a dangerous situation? How could the main characters have handled their situations differently?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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