Despite good reviews, the Pretty Little Liars spin-off The Perfectionists was ultimately canceled after only one season. Here’s what happened.
Despite good reviews, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists lasted only one season, so what happened? When the original Pretty Little Liars ended after seven seasons, Freeform announced the spin-off, leaving PLL fans hopeful that The Perfectionists would help fill the void. However, Freeform abruptly canceled the spinoff after just 10 episodes.
Followed by Pretty Little Liars: Ravenswood in 2014, The Perfectionists was the second PLL spin-off to last only one season. Pretty Little Liars showrunner, I. Marlene King, wrote The Perfectionists pilot episode and signed on as an executive producer. The show was planned as a stand-alone series based in the PPL universe. The spin-off starred Sasha Pieterse as Alison DiLaurentis and Janel Parrish as Mona Vanderwaal from the original Pretty Little Liars, along with several new characters. The Perfectionists centers on Alison and Mona as they leave Rosewood High behind to work at Beacon Heights University, where another murder mystery soon follows.
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Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists garnered good reviews, and given the original PPL fan base, many assumed that the show would be renewed. Instead, Freeform canceled the spin-off after its short 10-episode season. The abrupt ending shocked viewers, prompting outrage among fans who were left with a lot of questions about what happened to Ali and Mona. There are a few possible explanations for why the show was canceled despite the positive reception. These include network transitions and viewership ratings.
The original Pretty Little Liars served an integral role in transitioning ABC Family’s rebranding to Freeform. But ultimately, as the network evolved, Freeform started to focus its efforts on shows that targeted similar demographics as PLL but that centered more on everyday people and the regular, day-to-day dramas of everyday life. In 2019, when the spin-off was canceled, shows like The Bold Type and Grown-ish had become some of the Freeform staples for that demographic. This is one reason why the network may have chosen not to renew the spin-off for a second season: the thriller series simply didn’t suit the Freeform brand.
If the Pretty Little Liar’s spin-off had been more popular the show still might have been saved, but as it turned out, The Perfectionists simply didn’t garner enough of a following early on. This is most likely the main reason why the Pretty Little Liars spin-off was canceled after the first season. Comparing the numbers to PPL viewership, it’s easy to see that the following just wasn’t there: According to stats via The Hollywood Reporter, viewership ratings for Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists averaged under 300,000 views the night it aired. In comparison, the final season of Pretty Little Liars reached nearly 2 million viewers per episode — and that was after viewership had dropped off from higher ratings during earlier seasons.
The good news is, soon fans of the spin-off might have a chance to get some of the closure they crave, at least in part. HBO Max is now planning a Pretty Little Liars reboot, giving fans a reason to celebrate. Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has signed on to lead the reboot, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, which will follow a whole new cast of characters in a brand new setting. Armed with Aquirre-Sacasa’s talent and the knowledge of what went wrong with Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, there’s a reason for fans to hope that this time the show will last for more than one season.
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