The girls of Pretty Little Liars, which last night wrapped up the first part of the first season, are a scandalous bunch (they're also better dressed and better looking than anyone we knew in high school, but we're old, and kids these days are so well put together!). One shoplifts, one acts out by stealing her sister's boyfriends, one is — gasp! — a lesbian (or a bisexual, whatever). But the worst sin in the world of PLL, it seems — worse, even, than getting fat — is keeping secrets from your friends. High-school girls thrive on drama, and on this show, it's what gets them killed.
Oh, yeah, and you probably shouldn't get involved with evil older men. The big reveal last night had to do with Alison's unsolved murder, and that she'd been dating an out-of-high-school guy named Ian, who'd also been dating one of her friends, Spencer (as well as Spencer's older sister ... at the same time ... what a guy!). But dating older guys isn't uniformly punishable, the show lets us know. The most egregious example, Aria and her hot teacher, Mr. Fitz, is portrayed not as a crime, but as a great, forbidden romance (the Post would have a field day with this story: "Hot for Teacher; She's Half His Age!").
The moral compass of PLL, a show with a large audience of teen girls, is somewhat inscrutable. Everything seems okay (especially in terms of whom you hook up with), so long as you tell your friends about it — the thing that's unforgivable (and might get you murdered) is keeping secrets. Playing games is what got Alison killed, Spencer's older sister muses. It's a harsh punishment, for sure, but probably a vice that more girls watching can relate to, than, say, dating their model-y English teacher. Check out the scene below for a taste of the show's signature teen-girl-fantasy indulgence. In it, Spencer's getting some intimate field-hockey instruction from her sister's boyfriend, Ian (who turns out to possibly be a murderer; who'd have thunk it??), and is then confronted by Alison about it.