If there is one defining trait of the 2010s, it is good television. The 2010s was an iconic era for teen television dramas. From “Gossip Girl” (2007–2012) to “The Vampire Diaries” (2009–2017), the world was unable to look away from some of the most memorable moments in teen drama to date. Whether you were watching “The Fosters” (2013–2018) and wondering what trouble Callie was going to get herself into that season, or “Glee” (2009–2015) and trying to guess which pop song the New Directions were going to cover, there was never a dull moment in teen television dramas. Although one could argue that any of these shows was the “best” or “greatest,” one show stands out among the rest — “Pretty Little Liars” (2010–2017).
“Pretty Little Liars” focuses on four girls in the small town of Rosewood, Pa. after their friend Alison (Sasha Pieterse) goes missing. One year after her disappearance, Aria (Lucy Hale), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) start receiving threatening texts from an anonymous person known as “A,” who seems to know all their secrets. Throughout the course of the show, there are many shocking twists and turns, from Allison’s actually being alive to the multiple identity reveals of “A.” Due to the show’s convoluted nature, in which the viewers could rarely guess what would happen next, it is no surprise that the show became extremely confusing at times and had some, debatably, unnecessary plotlines.
YouTuber Mike’s Mic recently took on the challenge of dissecting the entire plot of “Pretty Little Liars” in a three-part YouTube series titled “An Appropriately Unhinged Recap of Pretty Little Liars.” The video series, the first of which was released in November 2021 and totals over six hours worth of viewing time has garnered millions of views.
The series is best described as a video essay. Video essays are not like your typical YouTube videos. While the average YouTube video is approximately 12 minutes, Mike’s Mic’s video essays are all close to two hours. Other YouTube video essays focus on specific popular television shows, such as Jenny Nicholson’s “THE Vampire Diaries Video” and Quinton Reviews’ “The Failure of Victorious.”
What makes Mike’s “Pretty Little Liars” video essay so appealing and enjoyable to watch is that it successfully manages to provide an incredibly detailed summary of the show, including all the major plot points and characters, while also being entertaining and comedic. Whether he is coming up with absurd nicknames for the characters, like “Blob” and “Di-Swag-Rentis,” or sporting his blonde wig to pay homage to Alison, there is never a dull moment in the video series.
The highlight of Mike’s videos has to be the wall he put together to help the viewer visualize the chaos of “Pretty Little Liars.” In all three parts of the series, Mike talks in front of a wall featuring pictures of all the relevant characters. The characters are connected with various colored strings, with the different colors of string each representing a different season and the strings themselves representing instances in which the characters interacted. By the end of the series, the abundance of colored strings makes it hard to see who is connected to whom, but the reality of the show is that almost everyone is connected to everyone. Even the characters with giant “Xs” on their face, indicating their death, remain connected to all of the surviving characters.
Mike’s video series is an incredible feat. He manages to summarize a 160-episode series into a mere six hours without the viewers feeling like they missed out on anything important. Not only is Mike’s series something “Pretty Little Liars” fans can watch to reminisce on the series without having to watch all seven seasons, but it is also something those who have never watched the show can enjoy. By going season by season, only revealing each “A” at the time each person was revealed in the television series, Mike makes his video essay series stand on its own by offering a comprehensive analysis that someone with absolutely no knowledge of “Pretty Little Liars” can watch.
The “An Appropriately Unhinged Recap of Pretty Little Liars” series is nothing short of a masterpiece. With incredible detail, Mike’s deep dive into “Pretty Little Liars” not only educates the viewers on all seven seasons of the show but also keeps them thoroughly entertained for all six hours. From complaining about “crusty Fitz” and “menace Melissa” to referring to one of the key villains of the show as “bestie,” Mike’s series is the perfect blend of pop culture and social media-inspired humor. Whether you were watching the television show live back in the 2010s, recently binged it on HBO Max or have no knowledge of the show whatsoever, if you have some time to spare, consider tuning in to Mike and his six-hour-long lecture on the pure, unhinged chaos of “Pretty Little Liars.”