If you’re looking for camp, look no further than Pretty Little Liars. It’s a teen drama with a mystery-thriller aspect, one that has become a beloved phenomenon and spawned everything from last year’s short-lived spinoff Ravenswood to an Aeropostale clothing line. It would be easy to write off this show as a cheap TV version of I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it manages to parody the genre while embracing it. It gleefully revels in both teen drama and mystery clichés in a way that makes it fun to watch.
Pretty Little Liars has sustained what would normally be an open-and-shut narrative — the murder of the a clique’s “queen bee,” followed by an unknown tormenter sending the girls creepy messages — for multiple seasons (the fifth premiered last night) by continuing to find twisty ways to keep viewers interested. What started off rough, with mixed reviews, has now become something bigger, with everyone from TV critics to GLAAD paying close attention to the show. It’s the biggest hit for ABC Family, and the networks knows it; Pretty Little Liars was renewed for both a sixth and a seventh season, ensuring that it goes until at least 2016.