Everything I Learned From Watching Pretty Little Liars For 7 Years

Photo: Courtesy of Freeform
We're merely weeks away from the end of Pretty Little Liars, and I have all of the feelings about it. While I'm desperate to learn the identity (or identities!) of Uber A, the elusive baddie who ushered in the show's endgame, I know it comes at a cost. A.D.'s reveal means the end of PLL, which means the end of a series that showed major love to female friendships and, in its own way, stuck it to the patriarchy. The end of Pretty Little Liars means more than just the end of a show: It's the end of a mystery that has made me theorize over every little clue for seven years. How can one say goodbye to something that they were so invested in?
Right now, I'm not sure I have the proper answer. Parting is such sweet sorrow, even if, to paraphrase Winnie the Pooh (and also Spencer), we're all pretty lucky to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard. That's why now is the perfect time to reflect on what watching PLL for seven seasons has taught its audience. From trusting your gut to being there for your friends, here's what I'll take with me once Pretty Little Liars bites the dust.
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Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform
Being Cool In High School Is Vastly Overrated

There's nothing wrong with being popular in high school — it's the desperate striving for it that the Freeform series warns is a lost, sad cause. Pretty Little Liars is a reminder that trying to climb a high school hierarchy is pointless — especially if you're not acting like yourself in the process. Mona (Janel Parrish) basically hid her brain under a thick layer of mean girl — and we definitely like her better when she's being her authentic smart, savvy self than when she's applying lip gloss and pretending to be interested in whatever Noel Kahn (Brant Daugherty) is saying. Likewise with Hanna (Ashley Benson), who ditched her prom queen aspirations when she realized she was seeking approval from all the wrong people.
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Don't Ignore Red Flags In A Relationship

...And yes, that "red flag" includes being your high school teacher. Ezra (Ian Harding) and Aria (Lucy Hale) might ultimately be endgame, but that doesn't mean anyone was okay with the fact that Ezra basically used the 16-year-old to gather intel for his book on Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Looking back on Ezra's bizarre actions, it's pretty clear that something was up with this dude — and he's hardly the only guy in the Liars' lives to have a secret agenda.
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Every Mean Girl Gets It From Somewhere

Back when Alison was "dead," she felt larger-than-life. She was constantly in control, and often exerted her power by being manipulative and/or unbelievably cruel. Yet Alison's actions didn't exist in a vacuum: she was essentially taught to lie by her mom Jessica (Andrea Parker), who had her own slew of effed-up secrets. While that hardly excuses Ali's Regina George-like actions, it is a reminder that "hurt people hurt people."
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...But Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Toby (Keegan Allen) was basically a pariah in Rosewood before Spencer (Troian Bellisario) took a chance on her one-time A suspect. The result? A beautiful relationship that had Spoby fans swoon. (Sure, okay, Toby did briefly join the A-Team, but that was just to find out info about his mom!!! Let him live.)
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Dating Your Best Friend's Ex Is (Probably) A Recipe For Disaster

People have plenty of opinions about whether or not it's cool to go after a friend's former love, but I'm firmly in the camp of "bad idea" — and PLL seemingly agrees. While Spencer and Hanna were able to get over Spencer's romance with Caleb (Tyler Blackburn), all three parties wasted a lot of time being heartsick over the situation. While I'm sure there are some special cases, it's probably easier to not "shop out of other people's carts" than date your BFF's one-time boyfriend. Simplify your life, and don't.
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Big Lies (& Bodies) Never Stay Hidden

Even the incompetent Rosewood Police Department will uncover that dead body eventually. Honesty is the best policy, especially when, technically, you're committing manslaughter and not first-degree murder. (Note: I really hope this is advice no one else ever needs to take, but... oh well.)
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It's Okay To Give Someone A Second Chance...

There would be no Haleb if Hanna had dumped Caleb for good after learning he was working with Jenna (Tammin Sursok) in season 1. There would have been no Paily if Emily (Shay Mitchell) hadn't forgiven Paige (Lindsey Shaw) for attempting to drown her. (Ermm, actually, maybe that should have raised a few more eyebrows than it did...) Ultimately, people screw up — especially when they are teenagers who have zero clue what they're doing — and it's perfectly acceptable to give someone a second chance if they prove they deserve it.
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...But Not Everyone Deserves One

Like, say, Peter Hastings (Nolan North), who impregnated not one but two women who weren't his wife. Just because those women happened to be identical twins and one was posing as the other does not make all that sneaking around okay!
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Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform
Friends Can Be As Important As Family

The bond between the Liars may not be forged with blood (well, I guess it technically is with Spencer and Alison, but that's a whole other can of worms) but it is about as strong a relationship as one can get. The Liars know that they will be there for one another through anything, which include being plopped in a sinister dollhouse by Alison's sister-cousin or burying the body of a deranged not-doctor. (If you ever needed a reason to find your tribe, it would be because there's a dead body on your hands.)
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