Pretty Little Liars 117 Recap: The New Normal is Kinda Weird

Have you ever watched Pretty Little Liars with someone who’s never watched Pretty Little Liars before? That whole Ezra/Aria student/teacher illicit romance thing doesn’t really play in Peoria, is all I’m saying.

This week on Pretty Little Liars, I cried like a baby. Here, see for yourself:

Shay Mitchell was interviewed by E! Online about her homogay character, btw, if you are interested:

Emily has transformed from a shy, confused girl to a badass babe, and Shay couldn’t be happier. “From the beginning of season one we saw that Emily is dealing with her sexuality and over the season she has come out to her parents, which I think is amazing,” Shay told us. “And you see how other people are accepting it. With [these latest] episodes there is a little bit of [anti-gay] bullying. I think it was important for the writers to put that in there, but it’s [also] fun. [Emily’s]‘s going to have a good time [standing up for herself].”

Shay says she has received “feedback from people from all around the world” about her character’s sexuality. “Young girls and guys just come up to me on the street and say things like, ‘Thank you, I related to your character unlike any other, especially when she was first discovering who she was and then come out to her dad—it gave me courage and strength to come out to my parents.’ That’s amazing, I couldn’t imagine playing a better character. I am very fortunate.”

Ahem. So this week on Pretty Little Liars, a ridiculous subplot emerged regarding an identity thief and a secondary ridiculous subplot recycled itself, this time replacing Aria’s old babysitter with Aria’s mom for the Woman Suspected to be In Love With Mr. Fitz, therefore providing ample opportunity for madcap misunderstandings and crazzzzy miscommunications! The girls crack Jenna’s code given to them via Spencer via secret messages via Toby and all it spells out is “BAD” which Hanna reads out loud in case everyone else didn’t know what B-A-D spelled. Hanna and Aria made up, and Hanna continued developing sexual tension with Caleb who is living in her basement.

Also, Spencer pulls off Saddle Club Sophisticate and develops sexual tension with Toby. I don’t know how Spencer does it, she just does it. She’s like this bossy timebomb thing.

Also, all four chicklettes, looking freshly plucked out of the American Girl book series, ran into Jenna at The Local Clothing Store With Open Dressing Room and catch her buying lacy lingerie for somebody who I personally think is Ian. Or maybe it’s Jacob, pretending to be Esau. You never know.

Everybody’s hair looked shiny and perfect per always AND Aria sported pigtails for an unfortunate portion of the episode, highlighting her eyes and also her youth, which amps up the potential sketch-factor of her relationship with Mr. Fitz.

(Sidenote: Ian Harding, who plays Ezra, is 24 and Lucy Hale, who plays Aria, is 21.)



The first Emily scene of any significance takes place in the cafeteria, where the gang is making Oliver Twist references re: Caleb that fly past Hanna like one of those gusts of wind constantly blowing through Rosewood, tickling windchimes and cuing suspenseful music. Emily says to be careful, Spencer says he’s too “dark” and Aria blinks her eyes a few times. Basically these girls need a signed affidavit of non-sketchiness before any new characters are permitted face time with any of their friends. I’ve been there. This is what happens when someone fucks with you. YOU TRUST NOBODY. EVERYONE IS FUCKING SKETCHY AS FUCK.

This friendly lunch is interrupted by Nick McCullers, father of Paige McCullers, The Girl with the Gravatar Bangs. Nick is storming through the cafeteria in search of The Coach, because he wants to see The Coach. I’d like Nick to see the coach too so she could school the hell out of his unit, but instead Ezra God of English takes this one on without skipping a beat.

Nick: I’ve seen the principal. And all I got was a lot of politically correct doubletalk. About the agenda in this place that’s penalizing my daughter — taking opportunities away from her and giving them to someone who doesn’t deserve them —
Mr. Fitz: Everybody gets a fair chance here, Mr.McCullers. We go out of our way to be sure that’s how it works.
Nick: My girl is the best swimmer on that team and you can’t give it to somebody just because–
Mr. Fitz: You’re in a cafeteria, Mr. McCullers, filled with kids trying to have lunch. I don’t think that’s the audience that you want, is it?

BINGO! If you really wanna pack a punch and get your psychologically unbalanced guppy back into the pond, this is not your target audience —

This is more like it:

Per ushe, it’s impossible to tell how this little skerfuffle made Emily feel due to Emily’s limited range of facial expressions.

What about Paige orgasming herself off the bicycle in the rain?

What about the fact that this really doesn’t even make remote sense and no high school sports team would value homosexual representation over winning?

Obviously this is an entire show built around a question that will never be answered (I beleive Caleb had some wise rascaly words about this at some point) so what’s a few more.

This girl is the best part of the scene:

Paige, clearly horrified that Dad just fucked up her chances with Emily, goes to apologize in that scary intense voice that only Emily Runs-With-Fawns can handle without flipping out. Maybe that white beanie is an immunity cap, I honestly can’t think of any other reason why she would have that fucker on her head.

Paige: Listen I didn’t know my Dad was coming. He wanted to know how someone beat me, he wanted to know why I slacked off but I didn’t, you know that I didn’t, so I told him we tied but you got the spot —
Emily: Because I’m gay?
Paige: No, I didn’t say anything. He must have asked around — I didn’t tell him, I swear
Emily: I have to go to class.

Emily is cool as a fucking cucumber about this whole thing. Is this a character arc or something.dotted-divider2
Meanwhile, Team Sensitive Sensible is phoning it up with Team Out of Fucking Control — Spencer’s on Aria and Emily’s all up in Hanna’s grill about Caleb’s Sketch potential which seems fair enough considering he’s got no references, slept in the high school library air duct, breaks cars recreationally, requires Hanna to pay him to talk about his feelings which I think is the opposite of therapy, took five days to “juice up” Emily’s cell-phone to play Born This Way every time Mom calls, and has Runaway Troubled Badass Hair in the tradition of John Bender from The Breakfast Club, Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life, Shawn in Boy Meets World and River Phoenix in general.

Emily’s Mom, carrying a hamper of homophobia, slithers past Emily’s room and Emily snaps that it’s Hanna on the phone DON’T WORRY THERE IS NO LESBIAN PHONE SEX HAPPENING HERE WITH MAYA and Mom says she just wanted to know if Emily wanted more “cobbler” and Emily is like NO, because hello, obviously there’s poison in it.

Hanna is stuffing her knapsack with tupperware containers of, I’m guessing, body parts, wearing the sleeve of my great-grandmother’s JC Penny flowered tracksuit as a blouse, and saying neat things like, “Paige is such a nob.” I don’t even know what that means, but I’m pretty sure she’s right.

Hanna: “What do you mean, ONLY Hanna?”
Emily: “It’s my Mom, things are still subzero around here.”
Hanna: “Did you tell her about Paige’s Dad coming to school?”
Emily:“No point, she’ll say it’s my fault for choosing a disgusting lifestyle.”

Emily says that it might not be “all Paige’s fault.” You know what that means? SHE’S ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY SHE WAS BORN THIS WAY and Emily knows it.

Parent-Teacher conferences bring Emily’s Mom into the school hallway, where she runs into Aria’s Mom.

Ella: I just want you to know that the school is not going to be bullied by Nick McCullers. Everybody here loves Emily —
Pam: What about Nick McCullers?
Ella: Um, well he came in making a big deal about how he thinks Emily’s getting special treatment because she’s gay. Everybody knows that Emily is the better swimmer, except McCullers.
Pam: He came here to school and said that?
Ella: In front of everyone — students, teachers —
Pam: Was Emily there?
Ella: She was.

You can see the creeping worm of compassion slithering its way through Pam’s brain…


Later that same day, or maybe five minutes later, or maybe the next week, Emily’s Mom and Emily are plopped onto the same set and Emily’s like, “I don’t need a ride, bitch, I’m driving my own car down a one-way road to Lezzie Town and last I heard you’re only in the market for a round trip.”

Pam: I need to ask you a question. I need to know something before I talk to the school.
Emily: Talk to the school about what?
Pam: Is it true what Aria’s Mom told me? About Mr. McCullers coming to the school and saying something about some kind of preferential treatment —
Emily: I don’t wanna talk about it.
Pam: Emily is it true? Is this true? Because if —
Emily: Yeah, it’s true.
Pam: Why didn’t you tell me?
Emily: You really don’t know why I wouldn’t tell you? It’s because I know what you think of me. I know what you’d say. It doesn’t matter who I am, I better get used to people looking at me only one way.

Pam looks through the suddenly crowded room/hallway? and spots Nick, standing around in his pea green sweater looking douchey. So she goes over to TEAR THIS SHIT UP. It’s a triumphant moment, worthy of a Debbie Notvotny Seal of Approval.

Pam: We need to talk.
Nick: I was wondering when I’d hear from you. This isn’t personal. You deal with your family problems any way that you want, but this is about what the school is doing to my daughter.
Pam: Um, yeah. It’s about your daughter. It’s about you trying to make her into some kind of professional victim and using my daughter to do it.
Nick: I don’t think you understand.
Pam: Oh I understand. I understand that you always think there’s someone else to blame when things don’t go your way.
Nick: Okay, you’re upset.
Pam: No. Not yet. But I’m getting there. My daughter never got anything she didn’t earn. That’s how we raised her, that’s who she is. So you drop this, Nick. Drop it or I’ll show you what a real agenda looks like.

That’s right, Nick, and that agenda isn’t all cobbler and laundry and dinner parties. It’s the Love Agenda, Nick. See? Love:

Pam: Emily, I still don’t understand, but I love you. You’re my child and nobody hurts my child. I’m so sorry if I —

At this point I am basically sobbing, I can’t even type. It’s meaningful and hopefully will brainwash parents into having turnarounds that aren’t necessarily full embraces but are still strong alignments.

Later on Emily’s sitting in her car when Paige drops in for a snack and some gossip! If Paige pulled that shit on Spencer there would be baseball bats in the air.

Paige: Listen, it’s like your Mom said. My Dad is always looking for somebody to blame.
Emily: I have to go home. My Mom’s waiting for me.
Paige: Right, your Mom’s waiting. God why is everything so easy for you?
Emily: Easy? What planet do you live on?! I’ve spent most of my life trying not to feel the way I feel. I come out and they ship my first girlfriend off to God knows where.. and now maybe she’s done with me. So yeah, it’s all about Emily. All Em, all the time.

Well there is one thing that’s all about Emily — PAIGE.



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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3212 articles for us.


  1. Huh-freaking-larious. I am so glad I found this recap. The part about “Born This Way” on Emily’s cell was golden. I’m also happy to see I’m not the only one who watches this show just to see what Spencer will wear next. Did anyone else find Toby’s line about being “free” just a little cheesy and over-acted Jim Carrey style? Yuck.

  2. HAHAH i dont watch this show but these recaps are so hilarious. ill ‘ship the gay parts on youtube like 3 years from now when theres 40 montage videos of it.

    skerfuffle. win.

  3. Im loving the new badass Emily, I’m not exactly on board with the Paige/Emily thing but I’ll watch, maybe IT GETS BETTER!

    Most of the male characters need some serious recasting, the only one I kinda care about is Ezra and just because he’s cute tbh.

    I like these recaps, they are fun to read.

  4. I’ve never watched PLL, I just read these recaps cause they’re hi-fucking-larious, but thanks to screencaps I realized that this girl named Paige is played by the girl who was Moze on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide that I had a crush on back in my preteen babygay days and now she has an awesome haircut/dye thing going on and is still totally crushable. LIKE WOAH.



      I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to figure out why she was familiar and while I obviously didn’t care enough to bother googling it the world’s a little clearer or something.

  5. Paige behaves like she has severe autism. Why does she act so tactless, intense and weird all the time? I am not into the Poor Paige sympathy story. I think she’s a freak and Emsy needs to run for the hills. I cannot get behind them as a couple. No way.

    • ITA. Paige is a weird crazy creepy weirdo. This story is not sexy, cute, fun, sweet or anything it is just random weirdness they are throwing at us just to say they have a practicing gay character.

      Anyway, I am loving the potential Toby and Spencer… Good eye sex, now we just need a make out. Spencer better watch out for Jenna.. Because that creepy bitch is definitely watching her, literally.

  6. “looking freshly plucked out of the American Girl book series” Ahahahaha. This is the best recap yet. Spot. On.

    Also, “Basically these girls need a signed affidavit of non-sketchiness before any new characters are permitted face time with any of their friends.” I hope SOMEONE(Spencer, obvs) remembers to do this when Emily+Paige is revealed to that world and everyone forgets that Paige tried to DROWN Emily.

  7. when Lindsey Shaw was on “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide’ back when she was 12 and i was a nanny, I would think, this girl is going to kiss a girl someday. Now she has. I am a psychic. Also, I only watched this show b/c some customers said I reminded them of Emily, i don’t know if it’s b/c I have teh gay or the one time was confused for an Asian woman’s child… but it’s cute and now I’m hooked. Also, REALLLLLLLYYYY happy Emily’s Mom went all momma bear on that guy.

  8. I love this recap Riese! Especially the parts where you break out singing Born This Way. (I dunno if you were actually singing, but I did when I read it)

  9. Am I the only one who found the Aria+Ezra sinking into the couch to get it on only to be interrupted by Aria’s dad on the answering machine to be the best moment of the episode?

    Ps. Emily’s mom made me cry. Go Mom. Getting it, finally.

  10. When Paige says “Listen, it’s like your Mom said. My Dad is always looking for somebody to blame.” I’m pretty sure she means something about her sexuality, she might have come out to him or got caught with a ladyFriend.

  11. i only watch the gay plot on youtube so i fully enjoy your recap of this show

    per ushe, hilarious and awesome recap riese

  12. 4 Things:

    1. I love how blindbat Jennabot is standing in front of a 3way mirror to see how she looks in lingerie.

    2. Emily is a sociopath magnet. Apparently, her supersized compassion and empathy milkshake brings all the crazies to the yard.

    3. In the opening scene: Spencer has the most hideous handwriting I’ve ever seen. Ever. But it’s OK because shortly thereafter I was distracted by Emily looking superhot in her flannel.

    4. God do I wish it was ALL EM, ALL THE TIME.

    • 1.) LOL I was thinking that. I srsly thought to myself, “If i was blind, I’d be feeling the texture of of a lot more.” And OMIGOSH I always forget that she’s blind. When Spencer and Toby came out the house I was like, “AHHHH STAY INSIDE. SHE’S IN THE CAB AND SHE’LL SEE YOU.”

      2.) Let’s not forget that Emily is drop-dead gorgeous. Crazies everywhere should be flockin’ to her like a gay Mecca.

      3.) LOL THANK YOU. Dang, girl. You’d think she’d practice how her “BAD” would look before filming haha. And yeah, I’m sure emily’s hotness was distraction enough.

      4.) Truth.

  13. I am really starting to wonder about the hair. How does it get so shiny? I feel like letting my hair grow out again and experimenting.
    There should be an article by FFAF on this subject maybe please? And as long as we’re on it, can she give Paige a make-over, too, asap?

    Also, I’m in lurve with Spencer.

  14. Riese, jesus christ stop being so fucking funny.

    …and by stop mean don’t stop. We need a safe word.

  15. Paige is “not what that is” who is the casting director? Every1 on the show is abnormally beautiful and she lacks the mutation of looking awesomely hot. BTW that haircut is atrocious. Degrassi , a fucking teen Nickalodeon show has a great lezzy storylinene why can’t Pll. Im to the point now where I dont give two fucks who A is. And people worder why every1 ends up watchin Jersey Shore.

  16. “Or maybe it’s Jacob, pretending to be Esau. You never know.”

    Man I don’t care about these teevee shows pretty much at all but I will still always, always get suckered into reading these recaps for amazing throwaway lines like this.

  17. “Later on Emily’s sitting in her car when Paige drops in for a snack and some gossip! If Paige pulled that shit on Spencer there would be baseball bats in the air.”
    Oh God I laughed so hard.

  18. Dear Paige… please, please, please, please, please stop being so damn creepy. Also, fix your hair. That’s all.

  19. I adore Pretty Little Liars, but I agree with all the snarky comments, it’s a pretty by the book ABC family dramatic show.

  20. HAHA I was waiting for that Paige kiss since that girl’s first words on screen. So obvious. (Just like the monsterous amounts of sexual tension between Hannah/Caleb and Spencer/Toby — where did that come from? haha) But I loved it. Because I feel like sometimes something like that IS really obvious and then it doesn’t happen because there is not gay plot line. Or agenda. Or whatever. But there is one here. Win. But yeah she’s intense. And this show is ridiculous. But I can’t not enjoy it.

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