Hollywood seems to like using “pretty”, “small” and “things” in their titles, and it’s starting to get confusing.
In recent years, Hollywood has produced shows and movies that have a penchant for placing the words “pretty,” “small” and “things” in their titles, making them a phenomenon, the most recent being The perfect little things card. Not only has this trend become dull and cliché, it is now difficult to keep track of all the shows with similar titles.
Using the words “pretty”, “little” or “things”, or variations of those words, has become the zeitgeist of TV dramas, especially those that brag about sex and scandal. Hollywood is rooted in amazing shows around pretty faces that tell little lies. The melodrama of these shows is all starting to feel the same, as are their redundant titles.
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Pretty little Liars started this trend in 2010, with its provocative mystery about a missing girl and a group of high school friends receiving messages hinting at their dark secrets. True to its title, the series is based on attractive characters hiding their sinful acts under a charming facade. The theme of beautiful facades and devastating secrets also appears in the show.Big little lies, capitalizing on the trend. The miniseries tells the story of stylish housewives who seem to have it all, but are in fact involved in sexy affairs and murder. These little lies engulf the world of housewives, just as lies come back to haunt pretty little liars.
Hulu Small fires everywherecontinued the trend of centering a show around the lies the characters try to keep hidden, but end up disastrously coming out of them. Reese Witherspoon starred in both Big little lies and Small fires everywhere, which makes it even harder not to mix these two shows about the scandal ripping up upper-middle-class glass houses. Again, these women try to hide behind pleasant attitudes and intricacies, but cringe underneath.
In the same year, Little pretty things brought more lies, sex and betrayal into the competitive ballet arena. The title seems to dramatize the delicate nature of the characters and their eventual fall from grace. Both Pretty little Liars and Little pretty things makes the attractive appearance of his characters a defining feature. It plays on the idea that society is too captivated by a delicate face to see the mud below. The story of characters reduced to violent extremes of beauty and overwhelming turmoil is popular in Hollywood, but deserves a more original title.
More recently, two films share this title trend, but have very different histories. The small things is a crime thriller about the capture of a serial killer, and The perfect little things card is an endearing science fiction film for teenagers on a time loop. The first has a gritty tone which unfortunately has a title associated with soapy melodramas; this one claims a sentimental and edifying vision of the life which uses rather “small things” to indicate the small moments of happiness which hide behind the daily banality.
Whether it is to suggest deception or pleasure, Hollywood still has an obsession with creating stories from small seeds sown in life that can turn into significant phenomena. But these titles have just become a meaningless throw of same types of words that now denote the same kind of story. Since movies and shows already share similar themes and tropes, their titles need to be more unique to set them apart. In an age of endless streaming options, shows need to stand out in the television landscape and their titles easy enough for people to remember them accurately.
The goal of creating shocking and engaging television dramas has become slim, especially when the titles are lackluster. Interestingly, most of these shows are book-based, which begs the question of whether the literary world is at the root of this naming problem. Either way, the “pretty little things” that are supposed to intrigue the audience sound like boring trinkets that would be best to put on themselves.
KEEP READING: Amazon’s Map of Tiny Perfect Things Gives Groundhog Day a Teenage Touch
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