ashley benson

You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover: Hanna Marin’s Rosewood Jacket in Pretty Little Liars

It was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817)

Most of supernatural literature and cinema is based on “that willing suspension of disbelief” Coleridge referred to while explaining the differences between the goal of his poetry, in contrast with Wordsworth’s. As a viewer/reader, you are willing to believe in something which doesn’t exist in real life and enjoy it. The same trick is true for fictional situations which are apparently more common: think of Carrie Bradshaw, a columnist who is not wealthy, doesn’t even own the flat she lives in but can afford an incredible collection of designer shoes, clothes and accessories. This is very true when it comes to Marlene King’s Pretty Little Liars, the ABC tv show based on books by Sara Shepard. The mystery which the whole show is based on (what happened to the Queen Bee Alison DiLaurentis?) is not original [1] but it perfectly works. Huge doses of suspension of disbelief are needed to watch PLL, which I think is one of the reasons why it is so captivating and funny; the over-the-top adventures of the four protagonists and their outfits mustn’t be questioned, otherwise all the fictional building would crumble.

Take Hanna Marin’s recent “metamorphosis” (it’s more a personality crisis): the once-chubby and dorky Hanna Banana/Hefty Hanna, turned into a glamourous shoplifter at the beginning of the show, is now supposed to show her rebel side. The return of Ali into her life has crushed her certainties and now she doesn’t know who she is. The symbol of this is the over-decorated denim jacket she often wears.

normal_0434This change in style has been hailed by fans as “grungy” and “rock”, which is totally ridiculous. It’s true Hanna is currently sporting a different, scruffier style, but it’s far from expressing a plausible teenage angst. After all, Hanna’s rebellion includes drinking some alcohol, getting black highlights à la Christina Aguilera circa 2002/2003 and eating fried food, namely nothing socially unacceptable.