All this speculation that Wren could be “A” got us thinking: what if “A” is a man? We’ve spent four seasons in the world of Pretty Little Liars and have contemplated many “A” possibilities. In the end, as long as the reveal is logical and powerful, we trust the PLL Powers That Be to make the right decision — on one condition: we really want “A” to be a woman. Here’s why.
Within the television landscape, PLL is the rare show that has four independent, complex young women as its lead characters. If you look specifically at television geared toward young women and girls, the number of shows that qualify shrinks even further. Sure, there are plenty of independent young female characters on teen television, but so many of them shape their lives around men. Their relationships with men — often romantic in nature — are the dominating factors in their decision-making.
PLL isn’t like that. Sure, the girls are influenced by the men in their lives, but whole episodes pass without Toby or Ezra or Caleb popping up. The Liars value their female friendships with one another as highly as they do their romantic relationships with men (or, in Emily’s case, with women). They have things to worry about besides their loves lives: like “A,” their families, their futures, and — perhaps most importantly — one another.
In the world of PLL, no one is more powerful than “A.” She uses the residents of Rosewood as her personal puppets — and her favorite puppets are the Liars. The Liars implement a level of control against “A.” They sometimes choose not to obey her instructions, and are always on the hunt for their mysterious nemesis. But, at least for now, “A” has the power.
The reveal that “A” is a man would mean taking all of the feminist storytelling that has come before and diminishing it. It would be worse than giving the power of the PLL world back to the men; it would be implying that they had it all along. And that has always been one thing we loved about PLL: that girls have the power. If that is to remain the case, it isn’t enough for the heroes of this story to be women. We want the villains to be women, too. There are too few stories in contemporary pop culture that give women the chance — and power — to be both.
Would you be upset if “A” were a man? Sound off in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.