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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Stars Talk Queerness, Friendships & Monsters

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Stars Spill The Tea On The New Show

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Stars Spill The Tea On The New Show
Courtesy of HBO Max

PRIDE sat down with Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Malia Pyles, Maia Reficco, Zaria, and Mallory Bechtel to discuss the terrifying and awesomely queer-inclusive new show. 

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A is back and they’re scarier than ever. No, seriously — if you thought A’s antics in the original Pretty Little Liars were chilling, just wait until you get a load of what the masked killer is up to now in the sequel series, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, which debuted with three episodes today on HBO Max.

While A might have gone full slasher-killer in their quest for revenge following a tragic event 20 years prior, they have some formidable foes in the form of the new generation of Little Liars: Imogen, (Bailee Madison), Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Noa (Maia Reficco), Mouse (Malia Pyles), and Faran (Zaria). As with the original series, this group of girls already have their hands full with school drama, legal issues, bullying, and, of course, romance (some of it super queer), and that’s before a killer begins stalking them. But hey, that’s what makes this franchise so much fun.

Bailee Madison and Chandler Kinney

The show also delivers a nuanced take on female friendship, something Madison found especially “empowering” about being a part of it, particularly when it comes to the friendship forged between her character Imogen and Tabby. “Tabby and Imogen are both in that place where they need someone to reach out with that saving hand, and I don’t think they expect it to be from one another,” she tells PRIDE. Best of all, it’s a healthy and supportive friendship, the kind not often seen in stories about teen girls. “There’s no wall there, no ulterior thought with the friendship, it’s just two human beings seeing each other for who they are, to the best of their ability and wanting to be by their side...it’s about damn time they share that story as well. It felt really empowering for Chandler and I every single day to get to dive deeper into that relationship.”

It’s not just platonic friendships that are getting a nuanced take this time around, but queer love in all its fluidity gets some much-needed representation. It was a powerful story and a personal one for our out actor Pyles, whose character Mouse enters into an unexpected and sweet romance. “I identify as queer and I’m very fluid in who I love, so it was so cool for me to read the character breakdown and understand that there was a kinship immediately there,” Pyles tells PRIDE. “I feel so blessed to have grown up in a time where media is so saturated with queer relationships and different types of gay relationships — successful or otherwise. For me, this one was important because there wasn’t a label.” The story she’s telling struck a nerve because it hit so close to home and mirrored her experiences growing up as a queer kid. “In high school, I knew I was ‘something’ but I didn’t have a label, I was just existing in my body and going through my day-to-day — which I think is the reality for a lot of kids — which is so exciting,” she says. “It was a really beautiful thing to be able to play Mouse in a way where her identity was important but not at the forefront of who she is. But yeah she does love everybody and she is out!”
Malia Pyles

While romance is central to the series, this wouldn’t be Pretty Little Liars if it didn’t also lean into darker territory, whether it be hulking masked killers hiding in the fringes waiting to pounce, or more topical issues around race, discrimination, and bullying. For the character Faran, all of those issues coalesce in her plotline as a ballerina dealing with hostility from the school’s mean girl twins, Karen and Kelly (Mallory Bechtel), who never miss a chance to microaggress. It’s a plotline that struck a chord with the actor. “So it’s funny to have some existential crisis towards this actual monster, but the monster that Faran is dealing with is a bit more internal,” she tells PRIDE. “Microaggressions are so insidious because the other half of a microaggression is the gaslighting that comes with it. That is so troublesome because you can’t fix something that people are telling you isn’t real.” Watching the show, it does so well in this case by shining a light on what microaggressions and gaslighting do often look like, which can be eye-opening to some and affirming to those experiencing them.

Zaria

Despite the heavy subject matter, the series remains a ton of fun and in its new home on HBO Max means can go places that its counterpart’s more family friendly network Freeform didn’t allow. Everything is dialed up, including both the scares and the sexiness, making this a worthy and more adult successor to the first series. And it’s the perfect binge.

The first three episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin are streaming now on HBO Max, with new episodes dropping every Thursday. Watch PRIDE’s full interview with the cast below. 

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.