How Much Longer Will You Put Up with Pretty Little Liars?

We’re all masochists, if you think about it.

It’s back, and you’re probably just “meh” about it.

Pretty Little Liars returns for its sixth — you read that properly, sixth — season tonight. And, as usual, we can’t quite remember where we left off. After weeks of “A IS REVEALED” promo from season five, we found out the hooded monster terrorizing these minors is Charles DiLaurentis, Alison’s long-lost brother who has only been mentioned a handful of times on the show. While the season five finale was better than most, the reveal left many fans scratching their heads. And, perhaps worst of all, disappointed.

Such is the case in this new era of the ABC Family drama. Gone are the days of tightly crafted plot lines that made sense and actually kept us on our toes. For a solid three seasons, we were unabashedly invigorated by Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily’s lip-gloss-soaked web of secrets. We genuinely wanted to know why “A” was stalking them and if Alison was alive. Now, it’s almost as if the story lines have gotten too tangled — too complicated — for us to be as invested. And doesn’t that suck?

But like absentmindedly eating potato chips, we will keep watching until we scrape the bottom of the bag — desperately hoping that the writers will deliver something so scandalous and interesting that it’ll feel like 2010 again. The question is, though, how long are we willing to wait? How long will Pretty Little Liars last until we finally toss up our hands and stop caring about Ezra and Aria’s age-inappropriate relationship?

It has been one disappointment after another, after all. And if you’re not bummed out, you’re pissed about the show’s inconsistencies. Charles’ “A” reveal proved lukewarm to fans who were secretly hoping for a juicier villain like Aria or Caleb. (TBH, who gives a s—t if it makes sense, so long as it makes our jaws drop to the floor?) Plus, there’s the confusion about whether Alison/Mona/the liars’ f—king parents are good people, or coldblooded murderers who collect dolls. Also, does anyone remember when Aria killed Shana, and now no one talks about it? And the grand question: When will these girls leave the pretty-but-psychotic town of Rosewood behind? Like seriously, move to Antarctica if you’re so afraid of “A.” The cell phone service there is most likely shoddy at best.

With season six and seven still on deck, the show will more than likely get worse before it gets better. We’ll be entrapped in a sea of contradicting story lines, saccharine love affairs, and silly-but-never-resolved “A” mind games for at least 15 more episodes. For the next several Wednesday mornings, you’ll be engaged in the all-too-familiar, “I watched PLL last night, but couldn’t tell you what happened” dialogue with your co-workers. We’re all masochists, if you think about it.

Simplification is key here. Although it’s pretty limp, the Charles reveal has us somewhat intrigued. If the PLL writers can make Charles interesting and logically put together why he became “A” in the first place/how he managed to do crazy things like corrupt Hanna’s cell phone, then we might be in business. We need to clear up any unanswered questions from episodes past (Is CeCe still involved? Is Mona actually on their side? How did Mike get so hot so quickly?) before we can delve deeper into new territory.

The show’s drastic time jump this season might help condense things. (According to E!, the girls will finish high school during the first 10 episodes and then time will jump four years after that. So no college years, guys.) This gives writers a tangible deadline — 10 episodes — to tie up loose ends before transitioning into literally a new period of these girls’ lives. Don’t screw it up, y’all.

But this will only help one half of the problem. Charles still kind of blows as the “Big A” reveal, so fans wouldn’t mind a second evil partner if — and only if — he/she was a big, shocking character with motivations that made sense. (As a fan, I’m behind this 100 percent.)

Like Glee, Desperate Housewives, and so many other shows that fell victim to the “Don’t know when to quit” syndrome, PLL can still be saved if it:

A. Starts making sense again.
B. Doesn’t crap out with the surprises.

Oh, and keeping Toby shirtless the whole time wouldn’t hurt, either.

Watch Lucy Hale (Aria) discuss the season six time jump on Big Morning Buzz Live. (Fingers crossed for PLL: Golden Girls version.)