The ABC Family Channel seems like a funny name for a network that would bring the sordid Pretty Little Liars, from a series of books set on the Main Line, to TV Tuesday at 8 p.m.
It's "a new kind of family," says the network's slogan. Is it ever, one that welcomes booze and marijuana and a 16-year-old girl who runs into the bar men's room to make out with the guy she met five minutes before. He turns out to be her new English teacher, which cools their passion for a whole five minutes more.
Another girl gets a massage to relieve fluid buildup in her bursa sac. That wouldn't be as vulgar as it sounds if she weren't wearing a bikini, and her masseur, also in a bathing suit, weren't her older sister's boyfriend. There's not much swimming, but lots of wearing of bathing suits, in Pretty Little Liars.
Then there are the shoplifters and the binger and the girl who isn't sure if she would like boys or girls to get going on her bursae - probably both after she gets high on the weed offered by her newest friend.
Like the CW's even skeevier Gossip Girl, this crew jumps, title and all, straight from the pages of a so-called young-adult fiction series. Young adults, which in this genre is defined as people between 14 and 21 years old, clearly are more tolerant of scandalous behavior among their peers than at least one old adult.
There are four main pretty little liars, who apparently have even more awful stuff in their past (a bling girl with ludicrous sunglasses has something to do with it) than theft, sexual experimentation, and substance abuse.
And a fifth friend won't let them forget it, sending them untimely threatening texts and e-mails and even a quaint handwritten note on a piece of paper, which is intriguing because she's dead.
Or is she?
The mystery makes Pretty Little Liars more entertaining than the tedium of Gossip Girls, and many parents might actually enjoy watching along with their young adults, who can explain why this sort of thing is so alluring to them. And how, of course, they would never do any of the stuff those TV kids do. Maybe that's the new kind of family ABC is talking about.
As to the show's portrayal of the Main Line, it doesn't. The series is shot in Vancouver. There are no sled dogs or Royal Canadian Mounted police, but in one big outdoor scene supposedly showing the start of September, you can see everybody's breath.
Pretty Little Liars
8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC Family