This is my new TV obsession since How I Met Your Mother has began to falter with its round-and-round story lines that even I am finding tedious (this from a fan since 2007!)

I thought I would be a Gossip Girl fan but their story lines were just too inane, the script too silly (except for Blair’s anyway), the setting was cheap (I only got as far as the First Season, where Queen Bee Blair seems to be limited to five square corner meters of space) and the clothes were walking parodies (except on Blake Lively).

But Pretty Little Liars – while it has its share of “WTF?” moments – is a gem for me. I love the end-credits cliffhanger feel, the relatively realistic situations (teenage girls do vanish and die, there are lesbians around, sisters can cheat on each other’s guys, families can fall apart and students do hook-up with teachers), the settings complement the Rosewood suburban atmosphere and the clothes complement the character without outshining them.

To be fair, it is rather smart that PLL re-invented a whole town complete with a mall, a park, and restaurants whereas GG is restricted by real-life locations (even if they are New York and Paris).Frankly, I read one Gossip Girl novel and it was horrible – silly storyline littered with all these luxury brands.

ANYWAY, back to PLL. Am seriously planning on buying the PLL book series.

I think it’s fab that one of the stars – and the prettiest of them all – is a Filipina (a dead giveaway to my nationality) even if she is cast as a lesbian. She has the stereotype that lesbians are pretty down pat. Emily is also the one Toby reaches out to and she’s the first to sport a soft heart among them all. To be fair, Emily is not out-loud homosexual and she represents the unease society has over it. She also has that martyr complex that Mischa Barton’s Marissa Cooper had in abundance. I do not like Maya because she comes across as in-your-face-fake but I always thought Toby is not as bad as people say he is. The Jenna thing better play a major role here for all the hype its been given. The actress, for some reason, annoys me (because I side with the Pretty Little Liars, so there).

I initially disliked Spencer because she kissed her sister’s fiance AND stole Melissa’s paper. I majored in English literature and intellectual property rights were hammered into our heads since the first research paper. This is flagrant act of plagiarism annoyed me… but then Melissa annoyed me more with her Jolie-like hair and lips (as in when Angelina was up for a Best Actress award for “The Changeling”). And I like how Spencer is smart (the quintessential smart-in-school-but-dumb-in-love) and how she’s organized but what I like best is her getting together with Alex. They would be an interesting couple to watch.

I found Hanna boring and predictable and frankly, she lacks the “It” girl pizzazz that even Mona has. In fact, even her mom has more appeal, being the auburn-haired couger that she is. I found Sean boring, too, and I thought at first that he’s some repressed suburban homosexual; but as I watched through the ten episodes, I found him to be the most stable thing Hanna has. Hanna does have spunk, which enables her to ride through financial difficulty and her father’s impending remarriage.

Aria‘s troubles are far more complex – her dad’s affair and the pressure he puts her on to keep mum about it. The pattern I see here is that the older men here (yes including Mr. Fitz and that bully/manwhore Darren) are all messed up whereas their younger counterparts – Sean, Alex – are more in control. I suppose the lesson here is, mid-life crisis is far worse than teen angst. Aria is the vulnerable one, falling for her English teacher (is it always the English teacher?) with her family collapsing around her ears. Of all the four, she does have the dumbest arguments around about love and truth.

Alison, meanwhile, has the IT girl aura, even in flashbacks. The actress does pull it off and not in the lame, try-hard sort of way that Mona does it. I’d hand it to Hanna that she’s not such a try-hard.

A – assuming it’s not Alison (or Aria, even) – does have a way with words and is, in fact, quite well read. A plus for her in my book. And she just might be in the running for TV’s greatest villains.

Pretty Little Liars intrigues me with its snappy dialogue and quick action. I love how these girls have individual secrets and hopefully they build up (the secrets) to the A case. Their secrets represent everything society frowns upon – for Hanna, it’s the eating disorder, family and financial instability, for Aria, it’s the infidelity of her father and sordidness of her affair with Mr. Fitz, for Emily, it’s the homosexuality issue and with Spencer, it’s her attraction (and casual “moments”) with her sister’s boyfriend. Quite a tantalizing array of secrets – it’s amazing these girls have time to squeeze in SAT’s and socials.

On a personal note, I could relate to these girls when I was in high school (sans the murder, of course.) I had two or three close friends and we had family secrets and personal secrets. There was always the fear of such secrets being leaked out, especially when we’d get into fights. This TV show is a throwback to my high school days and as Emily Blunt, playing Prudie in The Jane Austen Book Club tells her husband, “High school’s never over.”