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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Liars’ spin off show starts strong

Published: November 8, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

On Oct. 22, ABC Family debuted new drama “Ravenswood,” a spin-off of the extremely popular (and addictive) show “Pretty Little Liars” (PLL). “Ravenswood” is a fictional town next to Rosewood, the fictional home of PLL. Ravenswood has appeared in the last several episodes of “Pretty Little Liars” as the home of Ms. Grunwald (a mysterious woman linked to Ali) and A’s lair.

The town in “Pretty Little Liars” was always seen in a dismal and scary light, tinged with suspicion and peculiarity—but in “Ravenswood,” it is seen in a completely new light. The series follows five teenagers: Miranda Collins, Luke and Olivia Matheson and Remy Beaumont, who attend the local high school, and Caleb Rivers from PLL. Instead of appearing dreary and primarily inhabited by the elderly, Ravenswood is portrayed as a lively town with just as vibrant a high school and town culture as its neighbor, Rosewood. Interestingly, Ravenswood High School seems to have a lot more school spirit and normalcy than Rosewood High. The writers do not let this lightheartedness linger for too long, however. It is soon juxtaposed with dark mystery.

The show begins with Caleb meeting a frazzled Miranda on a bus, and he is told by his girlfriend to watch out for her for the near future. Miranda ran away to Ravenswood to locate her only living relative, a mysterious uncle who has been absent for most of her life. Caleb and Miranda find gravestones in a cemetery that are marked with their names and pictures, which is very unnerving. They meet Remy, whose father runs the town newspaper and could access information that could potentially help them figure out why they have appeared to have died.

Remy is also coping with her mother’s return from service in Afghanistan, who inexplicably is the lone survivor of a disaster in her unit. After her mother quotes a long-dead miraculous war survivor from Ravenswood, Remy does some investigation of her own. She weaves together a hypothesis that after every war, five teenagers die in an accident.

After Caleb, Miranda, Luke, Olivia and Remy are involved in a car crash precipitated by supernatural forces and Miranda dies, they cannot ignore this possible explanation. Miranda now appears to Caleb as a ghost. Unable to shake the feeling that they all should have perished, the teens continue to investigate the possible “curse” of Ravenswood and are confronted with calamitous and gloomy occurrences that do not appear to be mere coincidences, which are the focal point of the show.

Although there have only been three episodes of the show so far, the series is enthralling and leaves the viewer on the edge of her seat. The writers do an excellent job constructing a complex but easy-to-follow plot and creating familiar characters. The show’s content is somber and sometimes scary, leaving little room for humor. This is to be expected in a drama, but a little laugh now and then would probably be met with a positive response. Overall, “Ravenswood” is so far an addictive, provocative and enjoyable show.