Hollywood seems to like using “pretty,” “little” and “things” in their titles, and it’s beginning to get confusing.
In recent years, Hollywood has churned out shows and movies that have a penchant for placing the words “pretty,” “little” and “things” in their titles, making it somewhat of a phenomena, with the most recent being The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. Not only has this trend become dull and cliché, but now it has made it confusing to keep track of all of the shows with similar titles.
Using the words “pretty,” “little,” or “things,” or variations of these words, has become the zeitgeist of TV dramas, especially ones that boast sex and scandal. Hollywood is entrenched in creating shows around pretty faces that tell little lies. The melodrama in these shows starts to all feel the same, much like their redundant titles.
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Pretty Little Liars started this trend back in 2010, with its provocative mystery about a girl who disappeared and a group of high school friends that receive insinuating messages about their dark secrets. True to its title, the show is based on appealing characters hiding their sinful deeds under a charming façade. The theme of beautiful façades and devastating secrets also appears in the show Big Little Lies, capitalizing on the trend. The miniseries tells the story of elegant housewives who seem to have it all, but are actually involved in sexy liaisons and murder. These little lies engulf the housewives’ worlds, just like the lies come back to haunt the pretty little liars.
Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere continued the trend of centering a show around the lies the characters try to keep hidden, but eventually come out in disastrous ways. Reese Witherspoon starred in both Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere, making it even harder not to mix up these two shows about scandal tearing apart the glass houses of the upper-middle class. Again, these women try to hide behind pleasant demeanors and niceties, but are cracking underneath.
In the same year, Tiny Pretty Things brought more lies, sex and betrayal to the competitive ballet arena. The title seems to be dramatizing the delicate nature of the characters and their eventual fall from grace. Both Pretty Little Liars and Tiny Pretty Things makes the alluring appearance of its characters a defining trait. It plays off the idea that society is too captivated by a dainty face to see the muck underneath. The storyline of characters being reduced to violent extremes of beauty and damning turmoil is popular in Hollywood, but deserves a more original title.
Most recently, two movies share this title trend, but have vastly different stories. The Little Things is a crime thriller about catching a serial killer, and The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is an endearing teen sci-fi film about a time loop. The former has a gritty tone that unfortunately has a title associated with soapy melodramas; the latter aims for a sentimental and uplifting view on life that instead uses “tiny things” to refer to the small blissful moments that hide behind everyday mundaneness.
Whether suggesting deceit or delight, Hollywood still has an obsession with creating stories from the small seeds sown in life that can grow into significant phenomena. But these titles have just become a meaningless tossing of the same types of words that now denote the same kind of story. With the films and shows already sharing similar themes and tropes, their titles must be more unique to distinguish them. In an age of endless streaming options, shows must stand out in the televisual landscape, and their titles easy enough for people to accurately remember them.
The goal of creating shocking and enticing TV dramas has worn thin, especially when the titles are lackluster. Interestingly enough, most of these shows are based on books, which begs the question if the literary world is the source of this naming problem. Regardless, the “pretty little things” that are supposed to intrigue audiences sound like dull trinkets that would be best put on the self.
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