Pretty Little Liars 201 Recap: It’s Alive But It’s Not Very Gay

Tuesday night was the second season premiere of Pretty Little Liars, brought to you by the letter “A.”

I tuned in eagerly to Tuesday’s episode because of lesbians. See, there’s this whole like, murder-mystery thing happening, and all these girls have complicated problems and really, really, really just mind-blowingly fantastic flowy heads of hair, but more importantly, there’s a lesbian named Emily.

Season One’s final episode didn’t include any further developments between Emily and her multitude of females paramours in the metro-Rosewood area and I’m sorry to say Season Two’s first episode also lacks gay happenings.

However, despite shortchanging us this week on Pretty Little Liars, nothing gay happened.

This week on Pretty Little Liars, everybody’s obnoxiously good looking parents gathered in a room to confront their daughters, Spoon River Anthology style, regarding the parents’ concern that the girls are all “persons of interest.”

The subtext is the parents’ unanimous suspicion that their assorted progeny have morphed into zombie wolf/Ian-killers, and the actual text includes “y’all need some help. Professional help.”

we've brought you here today to talk about t-mobile's new extended family plan with unlimited texts

Per ushe, Hanna’s hair looked like the sweet waves of summer lashing a sandy, tepid shore.

story of my life

Aria wore culturally appropriated peacock/feather/bead earrings for at least half of the episode and is still mad at Ezra for something, probably his haircut.

aria, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul

You’ll be happy to know that this week Caleb came out as a lesbian, joining Finn Hudson and Aidan from South of Nowhere.

hi hanna, i'm a lesbian


how you like me now


ok, let's both be lesbians

Also, Hanna finds out that Mona tried to sabotage their affair by ripping up/failing to deliver Caleb’s Epic Poem of Love. Mona claims she was just trying to protect Hanna. CLASSIC lesbian drama. Also Jem of Jem & The Rockers called and wants Mona’s earrings back.

Then Hanna goes out and buys a bunch of shoes.

look mona, i just don't like you like that

Spencer has a brand new Dad, or the same Dad who somehow looks totally different. New Dad and Olivia Benson once again forbid Spencer to go near Toby because trouble follows Toby and they don’t want trouble all over their new hardwood floors.

look we just can't handle having spencer be happier than melissa. mmk? is that so hard to understand, Tobo?

Toby’s got this weird black sheep werewolf incesty vibe going on that petrifies all of Rosewood. I know I’ve been talking a lot about Vampires lately, but doesn’t Toby look like he’d make a good vampire? Like, aesthetically?

Anyhow they secretly hook up anyhow, underneath a canopy of saucepans.

it's ok spencer. i don't want to meet your mom, i just want bang bang bang

Furthermore Spencer’s family is in a hot panic about the disappearance of Ian, because Satan’s Spawn is boiling in Melissa’s uterus and she cannot raise a demonic child without the assistance of her misogynistic violent stalker creepy tennis-playing sister-assaulting demonic husband who, last we heard, was probably dead but had also, post-mortem, escaped into the knight like a ghost ninja. Which means he’s actually probably NOT dead. Because Dead Man Walking is a movie, it’s not real life.

Needless to say, we can cut Spencer a little slack for arriving at school dressed like a throw pillow.

i just love the way she leans

So the girls visit this whacko therapist who asks questions regarding the intensity of their psycho-bond in the wake of Allison’s murder.

fuck with me and i will strangle you with this necklace

She claims there are “no right or wrong answers,” but clearly is unnerved by the aura of complete fucking insanity radiating from the Paranoid Foursome who all seem one text message away from stabbing a stranger with a kitchen knife.

nice shoes you're wearing, my pretty

The girls collectively decide to fulfill Emily’s lifelong dream of telling an Authority Figure about A., but before they can introduce their film Spencer notices Ezra’s diploma on the therapist’s shelf, obviously a warning from A. who’s now got the key to half-naked Ezra’s apartment (don’t ask) and tweaks out, saying this meeting was “premature” and bouncing on out of there like the lunatics they are.

i don't know you guys, is this groupon worth it or not

The therapist tells the girls’ parents that the girls need to all take some distance from one another. This should be easy enough considering they go to school together and live on the same Hollywood backlot.

no, not the stir-fry sex video, the one below it

This forced separation will surely only drive them into the arms of their prospective bad ideas. I’m hoping that for Emily this means Paige. Or the blonde girl. Or Maya. Or Spencer. Or Santana.

also, the sunflower poster. that shit's got to GO.

I know that everyone in every teevee show is very good looking, but I feel like this show really goes overboard with the Noxzema faces. Even the extras could win America’s Next Top Model. Seriously, sometimes it’s a lot to handle.

Well, all day long at school I hear how great Ian is at this or how wonderful Ian did that! Ian, Ian, Ian!

Now let’s get to the lesbian parts. As I’ve already said ~6-7 times, nothing overtly gay occurs in this episode but because Emily is a lesbian, her parts are lesbian parts. You follow? Of course you do. You eat your alphabet soup and follow along.
When we last saw Emily, her Mom was pondering a move to Texas, where lesbianism isn’t so chic as it is up in Yankee Rosewood Territory and where her father is stationed with the Army or whatever. This is really depressing, I feel like Emily almost developed a fifth facial expression in honor of this newer, sadder feeling. Look, slumber party:

light as a feather stiff as a board -xoxo A.

No, not THAT kind of slumber party.

still not that type of slumber party

Next up Emily’s sitting on her bed in another one of those drapey shirts she wears, watching her favorite soft-core porn flick, The Real L Word Season Two. Just kidding, it’s “The Seduction of Toby Starring Jenna,” which is essentially The Real L Word Season Three b/c gayness leads to incest.

Her private time is interrupted by a realtor who pops up out of thin air like the Mad Hatter. He’s sporting an Olive Garden Bartender look and Ian Ziering hair.

So this is where the lesbian lives, huh

He surveys the space and recommends Emily remove all her photos and paint over her height-growth chart and otherwise destroy everything sacred to this poor troubled girl in need of grief counseling. Emily’s Mom looks almost apologetic. Almost!!

don't mess with texas

The real estate agent wants prospective residents to be able to “imagine their own stuff” in Emily’s room. Really though, I think there’s at least 15 tumblrs who’ve imagined themselves in Emily’s room without any interior design adjustments.

Meanwhile Spencer’s putting on the ritz:

it all looks the same on the floor

Spencer pauses, likely to imagine making out with Emily and getting to second-base underneath their respective tent shirts, but Melissa’s like, “no you’re wearing it for Tobleron” (which is what Toby would be named if Toby was a pre-packaged snack food) and then decides now’s the time to listen to Spencer’s story about Ian’s Maybe Kinda Sorta Death.

Meanwhile, Toby’s over at Emily’s, walking around with a knife, slicing her walls open as she apologizes for not believing him for possibly the 11th time.

There’s a sweet moment that indicates Emily reads Autostraddle and also rings true and YES grasshopper I will take those pebbles from your hand, thank you very much:

“I never told anyone,” Emily tells Tobo (which is what Toby would be named if Toby were a toy for toddlers). “But I always knew I was different.”

“You are, that’s what’s so great about you,” says Tobister (which is what Toby would be named if Toby were an antacid).

“I got so good at hiding it, but you saw it,” says Emily.

“I saw the way you looked at Maya.  You loved her,” says Tobee (which is what Toby would be named if Toby were a flavored bottle of seltzer water).

Madame Tussad's Toby

Speaking of Maya where the hell is that girl? It’s gotta be seven months since her marijuana detox, maybe she ran away to become a D.A.R.E counselor.

Later that night, after Spencer’s finished playing tonsil hockey with Tobi, The Ice Cream of the Future, and returns to the scented candle wildfire of her living room where Melissa’s first generation Nokia is blowin’ up like the world trade center with a text Spencer worries is from Ian ’cause it’s from a blocked number and says, “Melissa, I’m sorry but it’s not safe yet. I can’t tell you.”

Spencer SOSes her exile friends who trot out of bed — WITH PERFECT HAIR — to rendez-vous at Biosphere 2. They ask the phone how they know for sure that it’s Ian. He says ‘ask me anything.’

emily's face lol

What’s something only Ian would know? Melissa’s favorite sexual position? Why Allison is dead? The girls go with “what are we naming our baby?”

You know who else knows the baby name? A. Because A knows everything, starting with “who the fuck is A already?”

just like the autostraddle writer taylor, we want one just like that

However, IMDb’s got no evidence of Ryan Merriman’s return to the show, which is good because Ian is not Paige or Maya or the blond girl.

We end with a sneak peek of A. touring the Fields Home, armed with a sickle and likely dressed in a black cloak with black gloves, which doesn’t scare the realtor.

would you like me to show you the dungeon

Then A steals everything from Emily’s laptop. Hopefully she gets to keep her cute desktop photo.

thank g-d autostraddle posted 100 pictures of shane, there's one thing she won't have to replace

Tune in next week, it looks like Spencer’s gonna be wearing brown leggings!

Please share your feelings now. Thank you.

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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 3211 articles for us.


  1. Very good recap. I especially liked the variations on Toby’s name. But seriously, why no screenshot of naked Spencer?!?

      • All shows would be awesome on Showtime. Except for the shows already on Showtime. *coughreallwordcough*

    • oh lord, my intern made no less than three screencaps of spencer with her shirt off but i mean, it was just her back! i felt confused.

      • I felt confused too because I didn’t think it was A Thing, but Twitter was blowing up with “ZOMG Spencer is toplesssssss,” so I figured it was actually A Thing, so I capped it. Three times.

          • I will send them if you are serious and you message me your email address. This applies to everyone.

            Also, you are all creepy, and I love you more for it.

  2. This show is like crack. Terrible and slowly killing me on the inside, but I also can’t not watch it.

    • This. When the 1st season ended, I was so happy because my horrible addiction was over. But now that I’ve read the recap and watched the episode, it’s just back as hardcore as it ever was before. It’s a terrible, terrible thing.

  3. PLL Fun Fact: Spencer’s Dad is played by Nolan North, who is the voice of Drake in the Uncharted video game series. He also does voices on damn near every other cartoon and video game you can think of. Dude is awesome.

  4. I know I’m in the minority here but I really don’t like Emily as a character. I thought the flashbacks of her relationship with Alison (who just manipulated her) were interesting. But I think she’s the weakest of the central four characters.
    I do love how the show handled her coming to terms with her sexuality though, and how the other girls accepted her without any issue.
    So excited the show’s back though!

    • i actually kinda agree… i feel like spencer is miranda, aria is carrie, hanna is samantha and emily is charlotte. except a lesbian. i guess her character still feels a little flat. like when toby said he could see in her eyes that she loved maya, i was like “well, good thing you saw it ’cause i certainly did not.”

    • I really agree. If I wasn’t so in love with her face, she’d be my least favorite. Except for Aria… I just can’t.
      She absolutely needs more to her than gayness. She’s the only one without a (personal) secret! Just some personality, that’s all I ask. Or just get her drunk again, that’s another valid option.

  5. Lol I like the recaps better than the actual shows! My favorite part of this one would have to be describing the girls as “one text message away from stabbing a stranger with a kitchen knife.” XP

    Also, I think Toby would actually make a better werewolf aesthetically. Look at that face, I can just see that wolf snootz popping out.

    • +1 for reading the picture names. I didn’t realize people actually did that. They’re usually more interesting, but I was in a hurry.

      And idk, I felt like the apples were the focus of that shot, so they must symbolize something. The green apple is A, probs.

  6. ‘the Paranoid Foursome who all seem one text message away from stabbing a stranger with a kitchen knife.’


  7. I’ve been excited for this show to come back not for the actual show but for Riese’s recaps. This did not disappoint, even though there was no LEZBEAN AKSHUN

  8. Best photo caption? “EMILY’S FACE LOL.” I read that, looked at Emily’s face, and laughed so ridiculously hard. Thank you.

  9. The recaps are at least 100 times better than the show but I can’t stop watching, if only to be able to appreciate these properly. I can’t even tell if it’s so-bad-it’s-good, or if it’s just plain awful.

  10. “Just kidding, it’s ”The Seduction of Toby Starring Jenna,” which is essentially The Real L Word Season Three b/c gayness leads to incest.”


  11. Toby has the most epic chin of all time, combined with Spencers…oh god.

    But anyways I think I love this show just because it the mystery part of the show is hiliarious..reminds me of Veronica Mars.

  12. props for the “my so-called life” reference!
    seriously, pretty much every single line of this recap is hilarious. i feel like the worse the show, the better the recap.
    also, so true about the abnormally high rate of physical attractiveness on this show. Perhaps PLL takes place in the future where humans are genetically engineered for desired traits?

  13. The most important thing I learned from this episode is that Spencer doesn’t wear a bra.

    I also realized exactly how gross the whole Aria & Ezra thing is. This probably means I’m old b/c if I was actually 16 I’m sure I’d think it was a sexy romantic forbidden love. But their scenes in this ep were totally skeeving me out. The way he was all, “You can talk to me, I looooove you” and then was all shirtless in his apt with her. I have no idea what they said in that scene b/c I was too grossed out.

    • OMG, I thought I was the only person who noticed!! When she was dressing it was like… WTF? Where’s her bra?

  14. Did anyone else start watching this show thinking that Spencer was kind of odd looking…only to have that feeling grow into ‘How is Spencer so effing hot?!’

    No? ….um….me neither…

  15. RIESE, I wish I could lend you my brain so you could read your recaps without having watched the show. It’s like Sparknotes except so skewed that I sort of believe that this show is actually really interested in hair and also wrought with angst about its own lack of lesbians.

    The teevee in my head right now is so much better and gayer than the real teevee.

  16. “I know that everyone in every teevee show is very good looking, but I feel like this show really goes overboard with the Noxzema faces. Even the extras could win America’s Next Top Modell. Seriously, sometimes it’s a lot to handle.”
    Also, thank you for another hilarious recap.

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