Pretty amaz­ing

Pretty Lit­tle Liars is the big­gest show you’ve barely heard of (if you’re over the age of 35).

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Tv - By NEAL JUSTIN is a show with clout on so­cial me­dia. — ABC

WHAT’S the most im­pact­ful show of the past decade? If you said Amer­i­can Idol or Game Of Thrones, you’re prob­a­bly well over the age of 35 and use so­cial me­dia pri­mar­ily to show off pho­tos from your week­end in Bran­son.

All the cool kids know the cor­rect an­swer is Pretty Lit­tle Liars (PLL) – and they’ve got the num­bers to back it up. They’re just not the num­bers you’re used to.

PLL, in which five teenage girls are ter­rorised by a mys­te­ri­ous vil­lain af­ter the dis­ap­pear­ance of their class­mate, was a hit by con­ven­tional stan­dards, from its pre­miere in 2010 to the fi­nal sea­son that con­cluded ear­lier this week with a two-hour fi­nale, fol­lowed by an hour of the cast and cre­ators pat­ting them­selves on the back.

The soap con­sis­tently fin­ished near the top of the Nielsen rat­ings among fe­males 12 to 34 and was the most watched se­ries on ABC Fam­ily, now known as Freeform.

But the show’s legacy truly emerges through a rel­a­tively new mea­sure­ment – so­cial me­dia in­flu­ence. By that yard­stick, PLL is the most pow­er­ful se­ries on TV, more than dou­bling the num­ber who weigh in on The Walk­ing Dead.

“It has a lot of unique el­e­ments that set it up for suc­cess in the so­cial me­dia space: an on­go­ing mys­tery, plot twists and turns, cliffhang­ers and what we call OMG mo­ments,” Danielle Mullin told USA To­day back in 2013 when she was the net­work’s mar­ket­ing vice pres­i­dent.

PLL re­mains the most tweeted-about show on tele­vi­sion, gen­er­at­ing more on­line com­ments per episode than the more bal­ly­hooed Grey’s Anatomy, Em­pire or The Rachel Mad­dow Show.

“It wasn’t re­ally in­ten­tional,” said se­ries star Lucy Hale, who last year was the 42nd most fol­lowed per­son on In­sta­gram. “It was like so­cial me­dia got big right af­ter the show started. I think we were the first show that in­cluded hash­tags and re­ally in­ter­acted with fans.”

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer I. Mar­lene King cred­its Sara Shep­ard, who wrote the best­selling books the se­ries is based on, for be­ing ac­tive on so­cial me­dia well be­fore cam­eras started rolling.

The ac­tresses were more than ea­ger to fol­low her lead. Trad­ing tweets with the stars dur­ing episodes be­came al­most as much fun as pre­dict­ing the next plot twist.

“I en­joyed it, I think, just as much as they did, get­ting to hear their the­o­ries and their thoughts about what might be com­ing up,” said ac­tress Shay Mitchell, who ad­mits she didn’t even know what Twit­ter was when the show got picked up.

In­put from ra­bid fans even in­fil­trated the writ­ers’ room.

“I’d say if you see an over­whelm­ing trend on Twit­ter – if there is a cou­ple that peo­ple re­ally love or a cou­ple that peo­ple re­ally don’t love – we’ve taken that into ac­count as we move the story for­ward,” King said.

Be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to view­ers some­times comes at a price. The show came un­der fire in 2015 when it re­vealed that the bad­die who was tor­ment­ing the quin­tet was transgender. That didn’t sit well with peo­ple who had praised the se­ries for its in­clu­sive na­ture.

“Cre­atively, we still stand by our choice, but you don’t want any­body to feel bad about watch­ing the show in any way, shape or form,” King said.

The ac­tresses have also learned that in­ter­net fol­low­ers can bare their claws.

Sasha Pi­eterse was stung by cruel com­men­ta­tors who made re­marks about her fluc­tu­at­ing weight. Co-star Ash­ley Ben­son got slammed when she posted a Hal­loween pic­ture of her­self dressed up as Ce­cil the Lion, the crea­ture killed in the wild by a Min­nesota den­tist. She later apol­o­gised and made a hefty do­na­tion to the World Wildlife Fund.

King has been ex­plor­ing the price of fame in a so­cial me­dia world in her new Freeform se­ries, Fa­mous In Love, in which Bella Thorne plays an overnight sen­sa­tion in Hol­ly­wood who can’t seem to buy a cup of cof­fee with­out her or­der go­ing vi­ral.

“Ev­ery­body will try and change you in this busi­ness, make you dif­fer­ent with so­cial me­dia,” said Thorne, whose sex­ual orientation be­came a trend­ing item in 2016.

“Peo­ple will try and tear you down and make you look like some­thing you’re not, so you have to re­ally re­main who you are.”

But don’t ex­pect the ac­tors of young Hol­ly­wood to melt down their cell­phones any­time soon. Thorne’s open­ness with fans helped earn her a Teen Choice Awards nomination re­cently as TV’s best dra­matic ac­tress.

Her only com­pe­ti­tion? All five stars of Pretty Lit­tle Liars. – Star Tri­bune (Minneapolis)/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Pretty Lit­tle Liars

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