Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Pretty Little Liars - Original Sin s1





Marsella Evans

TV Series Review

“What if we took Pretty Little Liars, added more progressive themes, and made it darker?”

That seems to be the question that the writers of this show started with.

The original Pretty Little Liars—a staple of Freeform for seven seasons—was built on secrets, lies and the occasional mysterious death. This sequel is, in that way, no different. The inciting incident of the series is the suicide of a teen girl who is clearly desperate for help and abandoned by those around her—even though five other girls watched as she committed the act.

Twenty years later, those girls are grown and have teen daughters of their own. But those events from two decades ago continue to haunt them all. In fact, someone is tormenting the teens. These girls have nothing in common, except attending high school together, until they are given this common enemy and form a friendship that may be all that stands between them and death.

The characters from the original series play no role in the new show, but some elements of the plot are similar. Teen girls still receive text messages from a mysterious enemy who threatens and blackmails them into keeping a growing list of secrets. But there are many key differences, giving the show a new level of mysterious tension. The characters are well-written, too.

Still, it would be hard to imagine a plot or group of characters that could justify the level of issues we’ve already found in this series.

This show is rated TV-MA (instead of its predecessor’s TV-14), and I can see why. Viewers are exposed to frequent strong profanity, male nudity, sexual innuendos, suicide, homosexual relationships and substance abuse (alcohol and marijuana). And that’s just a partial list of the problems.

A warning at the beginning of each episode indicates that the show will deal with suicide and sexual assault throughout. The show does not shrink from depicting violence on screen and introduces a truly creepy villain. It incorporates foreboding classic literature and horror film references as the story progresses, as well.

This new show reflects major culture shifts since the original Pretty Little Liars was released. Hot-button issues find their way into this teen-centric stew, including racial tension, LGBT content, abortion, bullying and suicide. While dealing with society’s pain points isn’t necessarily negative, the show rarely deals with these problems in a way the Bible—or many families—would recommend.

This new incarnation of the teen drama Pretty Little Liars steps up the darkness in every imaginable way, and although compelling, is not a worthwhile watch.

Episode Reviews

Jul. 28, 2022—S1, Ep1: “Spirit Week”

Five women watch as a girl jumps to her death at a chaotic outdoor party. The guilt from the circumstances around the event follows these women into adulthood, and one is visibly shaken when she receives an old flyer from the event. Her daughter, Imogen, finds her dead, covered in blood in a tub with the letter “A” written in blood on the wall. She must deal with the aftermath of her mom’s apparent suicide and find out who sent the flyer. It becomes all the more critical to find the culprit, since that person begins to come after all the daughters of the women who witnessed that tragic death 20 years ago.

The girl who commits suicide at the party is clearly distraught. Her face smeared with makeup, she walks around begging for help and to be seen. She steps onto the edge of the roof and asks those watching  if they can see her one last time, and then she jumps. The scene is bloody and difficult to watch.

Two girls are fighting because one of them accuses the other of kissing her boyfriend. One girl, named Karen, bullies everyone around her repeatedly. The girls notice someone in a horror movie mask watching them as they receive commanding, foreboding and threatening texts.

Imogen is pregnant, and she is scared to have a child without her mother. Feeling alone, she asks the school nurse for an abortion, but she is reminded that she is too far along (at six months) to have one. (The nurse recommends adoption as an option.) Later, Imogen discusses abortion with her friend Tabby (including perhaps traveling somewhere where abortions are more accessible), and Imogen concludes that abortion would not be a good idea.

The scene where Imogen finds her mother is very bloody and startling. Imogen’s soon-to-be-friend, Noa, is doing community service and wearing an ankle monitor because she was caught with drugs. Tabby is upset by the lack of diverse representation in film class.

A ballet dancer named Farin deals with racism. Some of the girls’ outfits are revealing. Imogen drinks from a large bottle of alcohol.

Mouse, another future friend of Imogen, looks at posters for Pride Club, and an LGBT bully says that she doesn’t need to come out because people already know.

Tabby secretly records men in a locker room and later watches the footage. (Nothing is hidden.)  Her much-older boss is aggressively pursuing a romantic relationship with her.

Noa sees a law enforcement official receiving oral sex from a young man. (Nothing critical is shown, but it’s obvious what had been going on.)  

Karen tries to get Imogen taken out of school because her presence is “triggering.” Her father seems somehow domineering and possibly abusive.

Karen fights with her boyfriend and angrily discusses their sex life.

Someone slices a man’s throat, killing him.

The girls are framed for a variety of unsavory activities, including potentially harmful ones.  

The word b–ch, the f-word and the s-word are said several times each.  One person flips another off, a– is said, the name of the Lord is taken in vain, and two even more offensive words beginning with “c” are used.

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Marsella Evans 2022 intern
Marsella Evans

Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.

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