i’m not sure i would call them objectively great or even good shows? but if you’ve read through my tags on them you know that what I draw out of them, and my enjoyment of them - and any show - isn’t necessarily tied to the quality of the show.
what i get in those shows - pretty little liars in particular - are exaggerations and dramatizations of social norms that girls/people have to go through, often to an extent that they turn into horror stories, or melodramas, greek tragedies, all kinds of exaggerations that throw into relief real life experiences.
and i enjoy the excess, and the shamelessness. these are not shows bound by minimalism or brutalism, and indeed, in a lot of ways these shows are much closer to emulating and embodying tropes of magical realism than any fantasy or genre show on the market.
You know that kind of small town americana horror story/dead girl haunting a whole town full of secrets style story the style The Killing, True Detective etc. do in gritty crime drama? PLL does that in bright fashion colours and claustrophobic teenage girl perspective.
Gossip Girl (and revenge) are like a modern kinds of ways of telling old morality society scandals. gossip girl in particular is actually a hugely literary show well aware of the becky sharp/scarlett o’hara-style trail of heroines and scandals in whose footsteps it follows.
is the execution perfect? hell no. but as long as you remain aware of the problematic nature inherent to the structure of shows like this, and don’t excuse it, there’s a lot of enjoyment and enrichment and wonder you can get out of shows like this. They are shows that often get dismissed just because of the perception that they are teenage girl-y (which they are, but it’s no reason in the world why that doesn’t mean they’re not just as much about people and the universe we create as well)
also they’re just so much damn fun.