'Pretty Little Liars' season 6 will reportedly have a time jump – is it a good idea?

The ABC Family show will reportedly jump forward several years during the next season, skipping a story in which the main characters would go to college. How have other high school shows fared after their characters graduated?

Eric McCandless/ABC Family/AP
'Pretty Little Liars' stars Lucy Hale (l.), Ashley Benson (center), and Shay Mitchell (r.).

The season finale of the ABC Family program “Pretty Little Liars” just aired, but we already know some of what will happen in the upcoming season. 

On the smash hit TV show, the four female main characters – Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer – are high school students. However, according to E!, the upcoming episodes of the show will skip the quartet going to college. 

But the first 10 episodes of the upcoming sixth season will take place before that time skip, executive producer Marlene King told E!

“I did say we're going to do a four-year time jump and we will honor that before the end of season six," King said. "It's really exciting. I can't wait to see the girls after they come back from college. It's going to be awesome.” 

The season finale included some of the girls being taken captive by a mysterious villain named A. That will continue into the sixth season, King said. 

“We will start next season right where we left off, with the girls trapped and they don't get out immediately," she said. "Season six takes place in a very condensed period of time.” 

The show centers on a group of high school girls who are menaced by a person known only as A, who seems to know all about their pasts and says he or she will tell everyone what they know. The TV program is based off the series of the same name by Sara Shepard. 

So is it a good idea to jump forward in time? Characters going to college has always been difficult for high school-based TV shows. Fellow teen drama “One Tree Hill,” which aired on the CW, skipped college also, a decision TV Guide called “wise… The timejump not only allowed the characters to age up more appropriately to the actors' real ages, but provided for more mature story lines and character arcs,” though EW writer Ariana Bacle was not enamored with the “Tree” time jump – “One Tree Hill was supposed to be about relatable teen angst and aww-worthy sentimentality – not failed dreams and marital problems,” Bacle wrote. Another CW show, “Dawson’s Creek,” jumped forward five years, “solving the aging problem and ditching the series' dreary college setting in one fell swoop,” Entertainment Weekly reporter Hillary Busis wrote. 

Some recent TV shows that depicted those post-high school years include the Fox TV show “Glee” and another CW show, “Gossip Girl.” At the end of one of the seasons of “Glee” that took place post-high school, Vulture writer Lauren Hoffman wrote that “Glee hasn’t quite figured out what to be this season,” though Hoffman wrote that part of that might have come from the then-recent death of “Glee” actor Cory Monteith as well as “the struggle to hit the right tone as it tells post-high-school stories.” As for the TV show “Gossip Girl,” as noted by HitFix writer Daniel Fienberg, “all of the characters on ‘Gossip Girl’ collectively decided to drop out of college in their sophomore years” – almost all of the characters on the show began college their freshman year, but most either had jobs or appeared to be focusing on other things during the rest of the seasons (or at least we rarely if ever saw them attend class or mention their school). 

So “Liars” may have made a wise decision. Fans will have to tune in and see next season.

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