I. Marlene King’s Pretty Little Liars was one of the most successful series among teens and young adults during the 2010s, mainly for bringing to the table something that show aimed at that demographic were lacking at the time: a mystery. Pretty Little Liars follows Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily, four friends whose lives are turned upside down when the fifth member of the group, Alison, vanishes without a trace. To make matters worse: a year after her disappearance, the girls start to receive mysterious messages from a figure named “A,” who threatens to expose all of their secrets. This series starred Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse, and it ran for seven seasons, wrapping up with an unexpected twist in 2017.
Due to Pretty Little Liars‘ popularity, two spin-offs of the series, Ravenswood and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, were produced. Unfortunately, neither had as good a reception as expected, so they got canceled after only one season. However, a fourth production seems to have arrived in order to change the franchise’s fate, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. This series, created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring, presents a new storyline involving a brand new group of characters, led by Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles, and Maia Reficco. With its first season completed, and a second one already confirmed, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has positioned itself as a hit, per Rotten Tomatoes, on par with the original series. Here is a look into the similarities and differences between both series.
Friends, But Not For That Long
One of the striking similarities between both series is that they feature five teenage friends. However, their friendships are quite different. In Pretty Little Liars, Aria, Emily, Hanna, Spencer, and Alison share a long-standing friendship. Even though their relationships may have been slightly superficial and centered around Alison and her wishes, by the time “A” was introduced, all four of them already had their own history together, which continued to solidify from that point on. In Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin things are different: the main characters are just schoolmates. Their bond begins to develop after “A” appears, but it doesn’t take long for them to become best friends. Other common thing between the shows is, precisely, that “A”‘s intervention is what strengthens their bonds.
“A” is Bloodier Than Ever
In the first 2010 series, several people assumed the identity of “A” over the course of its seasons: first Mona Vanderwaal, then Charlotte DiLaurentis, and finally Alex Drake. And while they were all quite cruel to the main characters, their threats were mostly harmless, only intended to frighten them. It is also true that they carried out dangerous and even illegal actions, but this was not so frequent in the show. Also, each of the people who worked as “A” had different intentions. In the 2022 series, however, we are shown from the very first episode that “A” is willing to do anything in order to avenge Angela Waters’ death. Over the course of the episodes, audiences have witnessed his actions, which range from abductions to murdering minors. Furthermore, this new version of “A” is not hiding in the shadows, as was the case in the original series, but rather enjoys stalking the characters up close, haunting them with his terrifying and intimidating presence.
A Punishment That Crosses Generations
While the main characters of Pretty Little Liars may not have been evil, they were not innocent either: under Alison’s leadership, they did many bad things that brought suffering to other people. “A” knew this, and therefore she punished them. Now, in Original Sin, the girls are innocent, yet they are also being punished by “A”. And there lies one of the biggest differences among the shows, something that makes Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin‘s perspective even more intriguing: the main characters are being punished for their mothers’ past actions. Thus, Imogen, Tabby, Faran, Mouse, and Noa must solve the mystery behind Angela Waters’ death and cope with the reality that their mothers were bullies at school, to break free from “A”.
Revelations That Don’t Take Too Long
Mystery is a common element in both Pretty Litle Liars series, although the producers handle it in very different ways. The first series was known for prolonging the revelations as much as possible. In fact, it was not until the end of the second season that they uncovered who was the person behind “A”. In contrast, Original Sin decided to twist things up a bit, revealing at the end of the first season the real identity of “A”: Marshall Clanton, Principal of Millwood High School. Of course, he didn’t do it alone: his son Archie, who was Angela Waters’ twin brother, was in charge of all the physical chores, hiding behind his terrifying mask. Besides disclosing who “A” was, the series also revealed the motives behind his actions, and solved the mystery behind Angela Waters’ death. Now that this information is out, we will have to wait to see which mysteries are in store for the main characters in the upcoming season.
A Shared Pretty Little Liars Universe
Something that made fans quite happy is that both series are set in the same universe: Rosewood and Millwood, the towns featured in Pretty Little Liars and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, are very close to one another. And that’s not all: over the course of the spin-off’s first season, there have been mentions of characters and locations from the first series. If the main characters’ visit to Eddie Lamb, the nurse at the well-known Radley Sanitarium now converted into the Radley Hotel wasn’t exciting enough, by the end of the season Imogen disclosed a piece of information that took fans by surprise: she had chosen Aria and Ezra as the adoptive parents for her baby. In an interview, Hale discussed a potential comeback to the franchise.
Foray Into Horror and Lots of Movie References
This is arguably one of the most striking differences between the shows, along with the portrayal of “A”. While Pretty Little Liars had elements of the horror genre, and at times got frightening, it was primarily a suspense drama series. The new show, on the other hand, is a slasher drama that borrows elements from classic horror and productions like Scream, or even from contemporary series like Scream Queens, constantly holding the audience on the edge of their seats. It features all the elements that a slasher should have, from jump scares to gory murders. At the same time, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin references many horror movies, especially through Tabby, the aspiring filmmaker who, besides praising those productions, is very critical of some aspects of them.