It's not really surprising, honestly, as it reminded me of why I initially got sucked into watching Pretty Little Liars in the first place all those years ago. The Perfectionists is both familiar since it is in that same territory and exploring the same themes, but also different with its tone and the way it approaches the subject matter. I know that eventually it'll probably go down that similar road of plot holes and continuity errors and inconsistencies its predecessor unfortunately did, but for now I liked what the first season, which consisted of ten episodes, had to offer. I was hooked.
Most of this is due to the strong cast of characters, which is always a good sign. Aside from Alison and Mona, this show has entirely new characters, and I really liked the way they were introduced. Our main three in particular, since I liked how it setup the fact that they're mostly just acquaintances who don't really know each other that well which creates some tension and friction between them initially, but due to circumstances beyond their control they start becoming friends with one another and grow closer and stronger because of it. It's one of my favorite aspects, that regardless of how weak the plot or writing is, if you have a found family dynamic despite all odds then I'm all in. And these three -- Caitlin, Dylan, and Ava -- basically all become a family with their growing friendship. They are the only ones that can truly rely on. And I liked that we got to see that develop over the course of the ten episodes of season one, because having the initial "we're strangers and kinda distrust each other" to "we are like family no matter what" is my weakness.
Also, my favorite new character is Ava Jalali. I just find her character so fascinating, and her story so tragic. Plus, her fashion is everything.
I love the addition of Alison and Mona. They're my favorite characters from the original series, so seeing them come over to The Perfectionists was a great way of incorporating familiar faces (for getting the audience to watch) and also giving their characters a sense of purpose. I also love how they are also having this kind of friendship blooming between them, as well. Alison and Mona were essentially frenemies before, but now are working together and helping out these university students, both academically and also with the shit that is going down. It's the perfect team-up, and I'm enjoying every moment of it.
With that being said, however, I hate what the show did to Emily and Alison.
If it wasn't bad enough that in the final season of Pretty Little Liars did they do that rape storyline with Emily's stolen eggs being fertilized and impregnated into Alison and then Emily wanting Alison to not terminate the pregnancy despite the violation, but also after Alison finally being able to admit her feelings to Emily and them becoming official and getting married by the final episode, here she and Emily are divorcing. For reasons that aren't really explained other than a brief discussion of how Emily cannot get over the past, which to me seems rather out-of-character? But then, this is a classic Marlene King move, and it irritates me so fucking me. Fans were waiting for so long for Emily/Alison to be canon which finally happened at the very end of the show, and now she's breaking them up. Also, to add salt on that wound Emily isn't even physically there when all this is revealed to us. We just have to accept it and that's just pure shit, since it makes her look like the asshole. All the straight couples from the previous show are all happily married, but not for the f/f couple that many fans were rooting for. Ugh, it just makes me bitter and mad. I know that it was probably done to show that not every relationships ends in a happily ever after, or even to explain why Alison was there while Emily wasn't, but it was still executed poorly in context of this being one of the biggest LGBT relationships people were wanting to succeed. And it doesn't work anyway if the other half isn't even there to defend herself or explain her side of the story of what happened, which feels very cheap imho. They could have had it be that Alison accepted this as a good career opportunity and Emily was being the supportive wife from the opposite side of the country, but no, they didn't think that through because obviously something tragic has to happen. Healthy LGBT relationships? What's that? Although to be honest, considering that Alison has been trying to hard to better herself as a person, to atone for her past by becoming a mentor and helping these kids, I think she deserves better. But that's just my bias, because I love Alison.
That's really my only tiff I have with the show so far, and it's just a minor thing that isn't brought up that much at all. Everything else has been fine.
(As an aside, the show is attempting to be more progressive and LGBT friendly, Dylan being gay, Caitlin having two moms, Nolan supposedly being bisexual/pansexual/not straight, and a professor who is in an open relationship, and while I applaud them for attempting this I'm not entirely trusting considering the shit they did in PLL, and here with what they did with Emily/Alison, and what I'm suspecting might be a repeat of what happened with Emily and Paige with Dylan and his former bully, which I'm not really here for if that go that direction. But we'll see.)
Overall: Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists has a good start. I know that nothing has been confirmed about it being renewed yet, but I hope that it will be because the plot does have me intrigued. It's more than just a murder mystery, it's about understanding who is doing this elaborate experiment and why, as well as dealing with the pressure of overachievers who are balancing all their academic hard work alongside being anonymously stalked by an ever-watchful individual who knows your every move. It is an interesting element to add to the watchfulness of technology, a fear many have that the more advanced technology becomes the more your privacy will be invaded and used against you. I know that the show is nothing like the books it is based on, and from what I can gather that's probably a good thing. So yeah, even though I'm not happy about one element the show has, it's minuscule in comparison to the rest of the show that is actually quite good. I really hope that it is renewed for a second season.
Also, as a sidenote, I absolutely love the music choices used for this show. Not only do we get a reimagined cover version of the theme song, which is much creepier than the original tbh, but also the show has a signature kind of sound where they use Vitamin String Quartet songs, setting the mood and atmosphere. The first minute of the pilot episode (no spoilers) does a great job with using the cover of "Poker Face" while giving a nice introduction to the show and our main three characters. It fits so perfectly, and tells you what you're in for. I approve.