Unless you have not been on the Internet in the last year, the odds of you not knowing what Pretty Little Liars is, are slim to none. Even if you haven’t actually watched the show, you’ve had to have seen an article online, a trend on Twitter, a preview while you were flipping through commercials or maybe even the front page of a magazine while you were waiting in line at the supermarket. The point I’m trying to get across is that it is nearly impossible to be completely unaware of this show’s existence, which is pretty commendable for an ABC Family show geared toward tweens and teenagers.
According to the March 1st issue of Entertainment Weekly (which the Liars graced the cover of), the series is currently raking in a hefty 3.8 million viewers a week. With numbers like that, you can’t help but wonder what has contributed to this shows success? I have a few ideas.
Sex Appeal – Sex sells. It always has and always will. There is not an ugly character on Pretty Little Liars (except for maybe the creepy janitor). In the town of Rosewood, everyone looks amazing, even the high school drop-outs who they have doing their yard work. The parents in Rosewood even have their own middle-aged fan club that “oohhh” and “ahh” over them every Tuesday.
There Were Fans Before The Show Even Began – The show does have a slight advantage when it comes to viewing numbers seeing as how there were already thousands of die-hard Pretty Little Liars fans before the pilot even aired. Devoted Sara Shepard fans were counting down the days until her NY Times Bestsellers came to life on their televisions.
Speaking of Sara Shepard – Not every show’s writing and production crew have a successful blue-print to follow when creating their episodes like the team on PLL has.
Appeals to Old and Young – It’s basic math when it comes to viewing numbers. If there are only 1 million kids between the age of 12 and 13 and your show only appeals to 12 and 13 year olds, you’re not going to pull in more than a million viewers. However, if your show appeals to a large spectrum of ages, you’re going to pull in a large amount of views. PLL has viewers ranging from tweens up to adults in their 30s and 40s; this show definitely has a little something for everyone. While the younger viewers tune in for the teen romances (SPOBY or EZRIA), the older viewers tune in to get their dose of mystery and brain teasers for the week.
Something For Everyone – PLL also managed to not only appeal to a large age spectrum but also to multiple different stereotypes. Hanna pulls in fashionable girls from the “in crowd.” Aria brings in artsy viewers with her obsession with old books, painting, music, pottery and her bizarre outfits. Emily probably boasts the largest following due to her openly-gay relationship on the show. And Spencer appeals to the perfectionists, A + students and genetically wealthy.
Social Interactions – The stars of PLL campaign hard for their viewers. Every one of the cast members actively tweets along with the fans during the episodes and have all been known to drop a few clues or hints about who is or isn’t on the “A Team.” Even the producer, Marlene King, plays with the fans, boasting an impressive 150,000 followers on Twitter.
At the end of the day, there’s no precise equation or formula to determine whether a show will or won’t “make it.” If there was a way to determine that networks wouldn’t shovel out millions to premier a flop, and we the viewers wouldn’t have to suffer through the annoying one-seasoners that never get a second season signed. But there are definitely things that the writers, producers and cast can do to make a show more successful, and the PLL crew appears to be doing every single one of those things that they can think of.