Warning: This post contains Pretty Little Liars spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole show, then proceed with caution.
A little note: In August 2014, I started watching Pretty Little Liars. That November, I started blogging about it until it ended in 2017. I haven’t watched it since, but people are still reading my posts in 2021. So, I’ve decided to add thoughts and comments based on the feelings and opinions I have in 2021. Because you’re reading this now, I want to thank you! Tbh, after the disappointment of the series finale, I felt like I wasted time writing these posts. Because you’re reading this, it doesn’t feel like a waste anymore. So, thanks!
(Unless otherwise noted, parenthesis indicate thoughts from 2021)
Originally, this post was published on November 19, 2014. It’s being republished on February 9, 2021. Yes, a Tuesday, in honor of the show originally airing on Tuesdays.
Picture an uber nerdy, pretty much friendless girl who is one of the main targets for the school mean girl. What if that mean girl disappeared? Would you blame the nerdy girl if she took her chance to become the new “it girl?” Would you blame her if she took the “weakest link” in the original “it girl’s” clique and became her best friend? I can’t imagine anyone would say anything to her for either of those things. But what if, after all her hard work, the nerdy girl felt like she was losing her new best friend to the original group? And what if she felt like the only way to get her back was by torturing the girls in an attempt to break them up again? Now, that is something to talk about! So, let’s talk about Mona Vanderwaal, but first let’s talk about Alison DeLaurentis, the “it girl” who picked on Mona.
Hanna Marin described Alison DeLaurentis as the girl who can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. She knows exactly how to make you feel like a precious diamond, even when she’s treating you like a piece of trash. No one knew why she wanted to be Alison’s friend, but every girl did, especially Mona Vanderwaal. Before Mona could join Alison’s team of “it girls” though, Alison was murdered. At least, that’s what the police led everyone to believe. The truth is, Alison DeLaurentis faked her death and Mona Vanderwaal helped her do it. Why? Because if you can’t join them, beat them.
When Alison left Rosewood, PA the polar opposite girls from her clique fell out of touch and Mona made her move. She befriended “Hefty Hanna” Marin, the “weakest link” from Alison’s clique. Together, they turned themselves into the school’s new “it girls.” More than that, they became best friends. After a year apart, Hanna and her old friends started to reconnect and Mona feeling left out again. Afraid of being friendless and unpopular again, Mona decided to do whatever she had to do to keep Hanna as a friend. Every Pretty Little Liars fan knows what Mona did to the girls. But in case you’ve forgotten or you’d rather read about it than watch it, let me tell you what happened. Let me also share what I noticed when re-watching the first two seasons of PLL in 2014.
Season One In season one, there were five major clues I noticed that helped me realize how obvious it was that Mona was A. I’ll call these clues “Shoplifting,” “Camp Mona,” “Welcome Home Hanna,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Heartbroken.”
The pilot episode introduces Hanna and Mona as shopping buddies who walk straight past a security camera while wearing stolen merchandise. Somehow, Hanna is the only one caught and charged for the crime. That never made sense to me. Why on earth would Hanna be the only one caught? Surely, “A” was not above going after a close friend. Why should (s)he be? After watching it with a new perspective, I understood. Mona was A! “A” wouldn’t let herself get caught for something so trivial.
One of the most obvious “Mona is A” clues was “Camp Mona.” First, we see Mona invite “Hanna and her clanna” to go “glamping” with her. When she walks away and the girls start looking for reasons why they can’t go with Hanna. Then, “A” sends them a text saying (s)he would be there. The next day, Mona claims she received a text from someone called “A” and uninvites Hanna from her party. At “Camp Mona,” we hardly ever see Mona. Why not? It’s her party. Naturally, it’s because “A” is busy sending the girls on a wild goose chase.
Less obviously, Mona also gave us a clue at Hanna’s house right before the surprise “welcome home” party. She said, “Whoa, what was that? I just saw a shadow at your door.” As I’m sure Mona intended, Hanna started freaking out. There were many other ways that Mona could have set Hanna up for the surprise, but she chose the creepiest way. Why? Because Mona is “A!”
Also less obviously, we were given a clue that maybe “Mona is A” when Hanna was told to break Lucas’ heart at the dance. Who, other than maybe Alison, would care enough to make Hanna break Lucas’s heart? Mona, that’s who!
Finally, when Caleb left a letter for Hanna with Mona, she ripped it up and threw it away. When questioned, she claimed that it was to protect Hanna. That was a lie. We know that in those episodes, “A’s” main goal was to break Hanna’s heart. As Hanna’s best friend, Mona, aka “A,” knew that the best way to break Hanna’s heart. She had to make her believe Caleb left without saying goodbye. It worked.
Season Two “Mona is A” clues from season two that led up to the big reveal. “The Cafeteria Scene,” “Truth-Up Day,” “The Cellphone,” and “Never Around.”
After Dr. Sullivan suggests that the girls spend time apart, we see the girls at four different tables for lunch. We also see a shot of Mona with the hint of an evil smirk on her face before the camera moves away from her. Next thing we know, the girls receive a text from “A.” “Look at you. All alone in a crowd. I win! Xoxo – A.” How the heck did we miss that obvious hint?
Mona spends most of season two trying to be friends with Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, and Spencer Hastings, aka Hanna’s other friends. In the “Truth-Up Day” episode, Mona goes as far as to hack into the school computer, collect classified information, and get out without being caught, all to help Emily get back on to the swim team. This should have been a dead giveaway for us all. Mona is supposed to be clueless and Caleb is supposed to be the only tech-savvy person in school. Clearly, that was not true.
At one point, Ashley Marin and Ella Montgomery, Hanna and Aria’s moms, get closer and closer to finding out about “A.” So, Hanna destroys her phone so that no one can see her texts from “A.” And from whom did she get a new phone? Mona Vanderwaal. That’s who. A herself.
Finally, did you ever notice who was never around when the girls got “A” messages? That’s right. Mona! Haven’t noticed? Go back and watch. It’s so obvious it’s painful.
Mona was “A” and it all makes sense now! Mona had moments when it was so easy to believe she was too clueless to be “A.” There were even moments when she was downright likable. And that is what made her the perfect suspect! In the end, (yes, even in 2021) she will always be one of my favorite characters. Sure, she was manipulative, sinister, and a bit psychotic, but she was not heartless. In fact, I believe she had one of the biggest hearts in Rosewood. She was just a broken-hearted girl who never fully recovered from being bullied as a kid. All she wanted was to be loved and accepted by “it girl” Alison DeLaurentis, “cute boy” Noel Kahn, the other girls, and most importantly her best friend—Hanna Marin.
**2021 Thoughts** It’s been over five years since I wrote the bulk of this post. Honestly, it’s not some of my best writing, but it wasn’t really about the writing. It was about Mona Vanderwaal and how obvious it was she was “A.” It was also an appreciation post of sorts. I loved and still love Mona. Maybe I’m biased since I’ve loved Janel Parrish since she starred in Bratz (2007). That’s possible. Or maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for outcasts and psychology. Mona was the ultimate outsider in Pretty Little Liars. And the psychology of her character is fascinating. But whatever the reason, I do love Mona. Even though Pretty Little Liars was ultimately not worth the time and energy I put into it, I do still love Mona. And, I still stand by my belief that Mona being AD in the series finale would’ve been the ultimate twist. She was already A and she did so much to make people believe she had turned over a new leaf. I think it would’ve been brilliant if she had been A. It certainly would’ve been better than the real reveal. Yuck.