Unflinching gore, casual nudity and even the occasional C-bomb? Yes, there are definitely moments in HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin that would have made the old “A” drop their knife just to clutch their pearls.
While the original series “got away with a lot on Freeform,” this new iteration — which debuts its first three episodes on Thursday — essentially exists without restrictions, resulting in a “creatively freeing” environment for its cast and crew.
“I love it when teens talk how teens talk,” executive producer Lindsay Calhoon Bring tells TVLine, adding that making a show for a streaming service “expanded the playground and let things get more dangerous. It also let us have more freedom to push the violence, to push the horror.”
In other words, whereas an episode of the original series could have doubled as a spooky shampoo commercial (that show had some great hair), Original Sin isn’t afraid to get a little less, well, pretty.
Even the characters’ backstories are messier than ever. Sure, no one’s making out with their teacher in the bathroom of a bar, but these girls have already lived colorful lives. Just ask Imogen (Bailee Madison), the pregnant high school pariah, or Noa (Maia Reficco), fresh out of juvie with the ankle monitor to prove it.
But as much as Original Sin stands alone as its own naughtier entity, it’s also very much part of the original Pretty Little Liars universe. It’s even set in a quaint Pennsylvania town, not unlike (or even far from) Rosewood and Ravenswood.
“Lindsay and I, as writers and creators, are fans [of the franchise],” executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says. “We’re fanboys and fangirls. We love this stuff. We love when characters [from other shows] pop in, we love the crossover episodes.” At least at the beginning, however, the team “did want to really establish our town and our girls without being in the shadow of that original, iconic franchise.”
So, when should we expect to start seeing callbacks and Easter eggs from the original show? According to Aguirre-Sacasa, “Once you hit Episode 6, the Easter eggs — and more than Easter eggs — start coming fast and furiously.” Even better, he teases that these apparently references continue “up to literally the last moment of the last episode.”
Adds Bring, “Knowing that the fanbase of the original Pretty Little Liars is so strong, we wanted to make sure we gave some fan service to them. But we’re also our own story and our own thing, so we hope that will be exciting for them.”
Are you hoping for legit crossovers between the OG PLL and Original Sin? Drop a comment with your thoughts on HBO Max’s new series below.