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How Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Is Very Different From The Original Series (And Why I Think That's A Good Thing)

Bailee Madison, Maia Reficco, Chandler Kinney, Malia Pyles, and Zaria Simone on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Pretty Little Liars was one of Freeform’s most popular shows throughout its seven seasons. It had plenty of suspense, drama, romance, and ‘A’+ reveals. The show had a very dedicated fanbase that was heartbroken to see it end in 2017. However, HBO Max decided to resurrect the series with Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. 

It didn’t just bring back the old concept, but gave it a dramatic makeover and created an equally as addictive series. It may one day have its own very dedicated fanbase. Pretty Little Liars and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin have some things in common, but far more differences. It’s these differences that make Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin a must-watch TV series. 

Mallory Bechtel and Bailee Madison in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

(Image credit: HBO Max)

It Has A Heavy Emphasis On The Horror Genre 

Pretty Little Liars always had horror movie elements, from creepy dolls to mysterious deaths to Keegan Allen's Toby in a durag. It could be scary at times. However, it always felt (to me) more like a suspense drama with horror elements, but not necessarily a horror TV show. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin fully embraces the horror elements and aligns more with shows such as Scream, Chucky, and Scream Queens.  

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin speaks to the horror movie geek in all of us by referencing so many of the best horror movies of all time. Horror movie nerd Tabby (Chandler Kinney) mentions many well-known classics and some cult favorites in nearly every episode—at least that’s how it feels. It both idolizes these horror movies and criticizes some of their more problematic elements. 

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin also fully embraces slasher films by having the storylines mimic those of popular films in that genre. It clearly takes some notes from the best Friday the 13th movies.  Depending on if you prefer horror or suspense, you may prefer Pretty Little Liars not being as scary, but if you’re a horror movie fan, you can appreciate how far Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin leans into a love of horror movies. 

With each show falling more into separate TV genres, it allows them to complement each other. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin feels like the natural evolution of the world created by Pretty Little Liars. 

Malia Pyles, Zaria Simone, Chandler Kinney, Maia Reficco, and Bailee Madison in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Follows New Characters 

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has a completely new cast and new characters. Sometimes when a show is rebooted, it tries to repeat character types but gives them different faces and names. Sometimes there are character archetypes that a show feels it needs to match with every new version of the show. For example, if an original series had a nerd, jock, weirdo, and clown, the next spin-off or reboot also has to have these characters. This allows people to constantly draw comparisons to the original counterpart of this type of character.

I don’t believe that the five main characters in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin are just repeats of the main characters on Pretty Little Liars. They may share some traits, but overall feel different enough to not make their actions predictable, or for the new show to just feel like a copy of the original. 

We loved the Pretty Little Liars cast and characters, but it could get boring if we were watching just new versions of Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale), and Emily (Shay Mitchell).

Pretty Little Liars; Original Sin Screengrab of a cellphone with 'A'

(Image credit: HBO Max)

It Has The Bones Of The Original, But Different DNA 

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin shares plenty in common with the original show. It has its own version of ‘A.’ It also has an evil-ish queen bee, but this time she is actually a twin. There is also at least one direct reference to some of the original characters (you have to watch to find out which ones). And at the heart of both series is the friendship between the girls. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin definitely wants to pay homage to the original in many ways, but it clearly wants to make its own name. 

Besides different characters and being a completely different genre, it also treats ‘A’ in a unique way from the original series, both in the reveal and execution. ‘A’ is much more of a sinister character who's not afraid to kill. The show also starts with the five girls becoming friends and moving from that point, whereas, the original starts with their friendship broken up and them finding their way back to each other. Original Sin also makes the girls victims of their parents' lies and the lies of others, than it does about the consequences of some of their own lies and secrets. 

There are many ways Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin references Pretty Little Liars but puts a unique spin on things. This means fans of the original show can enjoy some of the things that made Pretty Little Liars great, but viewers who are unfamiliar with the first TV show can also enjoy Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin as its own entity.  

Chandler Kinney and Bailee Madison in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Is Dark And More Adult 

Being on HBO Max allows Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin to explore dark and more adult topics. Unlike some shows that think HBO means that it’s time to add as many sex scenes and nudity as possible, Original Sin chooses to use the more adult streaming service to touch on mature topics that go beyond sex. 

It addresses serious issues such as self-harm, grief and loss, teen pregnancy, bullying, misogyny, rape culture, and sexual abuse. It also uses the freedom that comes with HBO Max to go a little harder on the gore. Because of their gruesome deaths, I would be completely surprised if the characters who die in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin somehow take a page from Pretty Little Liars characters and come back from the dead.

Many people who check out Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin may be fans of Pretty Little Liars. If they started watching it when it premiered in 2010, they’re at least 12 years older now, so they may want a version of the show that’s a little darker and more mature. Also, according to TV Technology, HBO Max’s core audience tends to skew 25+. This means with Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin being more mature and darker, it can appeal more to HBO Max’s subscribers.

Bailee Madison on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

(Image credit: HBO Max)

It Has A Short Season

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Season 1 only has 10 episodes. Pretty Little Liars has 160 episodes with at least 20 episodes per season. I believe that the thing that most premium cable shows/streaming and international shows do well is limit the episodes. 

This allows the writers to create a tighter story, which ultimately produces better quality. Some network and other cable shows go the 20+ episodes a season route. This often leads to a lot of filler episodes and sometimes means that storylines get dragged out to head toward that big season or series finale. 

Because Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin only has 10 episodes in the first season, you don’t have to deal with too many red herrings and constant misdirections. Some may love that Pretty Little Liars has so many episodes, but the twists and turns may have been a little more satisfying if they happened sooner each season. 

Derek Klena and Chandler Kinney in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Indirectly Addresses One Of The Original Show’s Controversies 

Aria and Ezra (Ian Harding) are a fan favorite Pretty Little Liars couple. However, some had major problems with it, especially because he was a 20-something teacher hooking up with a teenager. They end the series by getting married. 

Because I think many (hopefully most) adults will agree that teachers and students, or any adults and teens, should not date, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is not on-board for this kind of romance. There is an adult male character who tries to make a move on a teen girl, and it’s made known multiple times that it’s extremely inappropriate and problematic. The word “grooming” is even used to describe it. This doesn’t seem like a complete jab at Aria and Ezra, especially if you’ve seen the finale, but the show seems to be making a conscious statement against glamorizing these types of romances. 

It’s good to see Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin making more of a statement against adults dating teens, but not in a way that may alienate fans who liked the Aria and Ezra romance. Personally, I’m glad we won’t (hopefully) get any repeats of that in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. 

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is one of the best shows currently on the summer TV premiere schedule. The entire first season is available to stream on HBO Max.

Stream Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin on HBO Max. (opens in new tab)

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.