‘Pretty Little Liars’ Season 3: The Show Isn’t Just About the Kids, It’s About the Parents Too

As any viewer of the ABC Family soap opera Pretty Little Liars knows, the focus of the show is planted squarely on the shoulders of teenagers Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily (Shay Mitchell).

Each of the girls have important people in their lives, starting with steady boyfriends Toby (Keegan Allen) and Ezra (Ian Harding); current ex-boyfriend Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and on-again/off-again gal pal Paige (Lindsey Shaw).

But just as important as their significant others are to each girl are their parents. As each season has progressed, the girls’ moms (and in some instances) their dads have had a great impact on their lives – for better or worse.

For Spencer, her parents are demanding and exacting with many secrets and mysterious of their own. Her dad, Peter (Nolan North), had an affair during the early years of his relationship with Spencer’s mom Veronica (Lesley Fera) that resulted in an unexpected pregnancy – that would be Jason DeLaurentis (Drew Van Acker) – which was kept quiet for over 20 years. Her mom, the attorney, is defending former police officer Garrett Reynolds (Yani Gellman) in the murder trial where is suspected of killing Allison DeLaurentis (Sasha Pietrese) and Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson).

For Aria, her parents Ella (Holly Marie Combs) and Byron (Chad Lowe) are sometimes counter-productive, complicated divorcees who have been highly-resistant to her relationship with former school teacher Ezra. But since the divorce, Ella seems to be coming around (albeit only slightly) to Aria’s relationship; and with her growing relationship with coffee shop owner Zack (Steven Talley) maybe she will start to warm up more to the idea of Ezra and Aria. Meanwhile, dad Byron hasn’t been seen much this season, but it has been made clear that he is now involved with former fling Meredith (Amanda Schull), which could spell trouble one way or the other.

For Emily, her dad Wayne (Eric Steinberg) is a Colonel in the Army currently stationed in Texas while her mom Pam (Nia Peeples) is commuting back and forth. Her dad was more accepting of Emily being a lesbian, but her mom has come around to be more accepting as well; but the poor girl is left, almost too much, to her own devices even with staying with the Marin’s. Quite honestly, given the emotional turmoil that she has been through over the last few years, Emily needs her parents by her side.

Lastly, for Hanna, it has been just her and her mom Ashley (Laura Leighton) for quite some time now; and while her dad Tom (Roark Critchlow) isn’t completely out of the picture, the family dynamic is – in a word – exasperating. It is no wonder that Hanna is so, sometimes over-the-top straight-forward in her encounters with – well – everyone; but that also is probably the best compelling character about Hanna that has been helped by her family dynamic. Next to Aria, Hanna probably has the most caring mom on the show; and at some point you would think that Ashley would start to figure out what is really going on with the girls.

Regardless of what kind of relationship the girls have with their parents – or for that matter how much screen time the parents have – they are an integral part of the show, an integral part of the girls’ lives and help to keep the stories ongoing, bringing the viewers back for more and more each week.

Make sure to tune in for all the excitement, mystery and action when ‘Pretty Little Liars’ airs its next new episode on ABC Family this Tuesday, August 7 at 8/7c.