Pretty Little Liars New Season Tidbits
By Lynn Barker
A lot has gone down on the fun, mysterious and hot TV series “Pretty Little Liars” on ABC Family. Toby turned “dark” and is on the “A-Team”. The girls have gone through their own romantic and other changes. The new season brings more intrigue. Mona is back. Is she up to no good with Jason?
Q: What has been the most surprising thing so far that’s happened? I’m not asking for spoilers, but plot twists where you’ve just gone, “I didn’t see that coming.”
- Troian: Especially this season, there have been a lot, and I think that what is so great about the show. (People ask) how far can this “A” storyline go? There are so many mysteries and so many unknowns in Rosewood. We still don’t know fully what happened to Alison the night of her murder. So we don’t know who took her life or who hurt her All of these things were brought to a new level. Is Toby a part of the “A” Team? Is that because he’s good or because he’s bad? So this whole season really has been a lot of shocking moments for all of the actors, even for our own characters. We’re like, “Oh, whoa, I’m going to do that? Oh, okay. I’d better start laying that egg because I was not expecting that either.”
- Keegan: I mean look at the mysteries. Just like in the last episode, having a brain with a knife through it, I mean, high school is such a brutal place! Just to see all of the nuances that come from high school and living in that realm of Rosewood is interesting. That’s why I’m so addicted to reading the scripts. It’s like a great book that you’d never want to put down, and you keep getting further and further into the chapters.
Q: Can you talk about learning things about your character that you didn’t know? Is it better to know in advance or not to know?
- Shay: Personally, for me, I don’t really like to know. I know that, like, Ashley definitely is always knocking on Marlene’s (showrunner’s) door being, like, “What happens to my character?” And I’m kind of, like, I don’t really want to know. For me, that kind of works better. But I think especially for this season, after everything with Emily and Nate and that whole situation, there is a different layer to her now that’s kind of been added. So I think you go into this season knowing that, obviously, this big shift has happened, and you’re going to handle the situations slightly differently than how she would have before everything.
Q: All of you have branched out to do other things as well. Is it hard to schedule the rest of your life and are the showrunners cooperative?
- Troian: This is the most amazing family. This past year, I had an incredible experience in making my first short film that I wrote and produced and was acting in. And (it’s great) to be able to go to work and talk to (the producers and writers) about “I have no idea what I’m doing. Please help me.” And to have these people that are both my business partners and my family guide me through this first artistic endeavor was monumental. It meant so much to me.
- We work hard on this show. It takes a long time to make. It’s nine months for us. It’s even more for them because they’re writing, and yet they will always find time to help us pursue our dreams. Shay gets to travel all over the world and work with amazing, amazing groups.
- Shay: Yeah. No, definitely, when things that are important to Troian, things that are important to me or to all of us, (the showrunners) are unbelievably supportive. So it’s very nice.
Q: Your fans are really active on social media. I read that the show’s premiere accounted for over 52 percent of all of the next day’s TV Twitter activity. There is huge social interaction around the show. How do you feel about that?
- Troian: Fans are having parties. Like I know so many of the fans that I talk to have these gatherings around the show, and I think what’s funny is I recently heard this one girl say, “I tape it and watch it early before all my friends come.” “And then I watch it with them, but I spoil everything for them.” But it’s this great new experience where people are it’s not just watching it by yourself and then calling and, “Can you believe that happened?” It is the communal, like, knee grabbing that happens at a moment.
- Shay: I don’t know how many (fan) videos I actually watched when they found out that Toby was ‘A,’ and it’s just these girls are, like, (in character) “Oh, why? Why is he ‘A?’” I’m, like, “Oh, my God. This is so good. Next,” like on YouTube. It’s amazing.
Q: The wardrobe on the show is amazing. Does it help you get in character to wear those clothes?
- Shay: I’d say for me it really helps getting into wardrobe because I’m so not Emily. I think out of all the girls, I’m probably girliest. So when I get into my Converse sneakers, I transform because then I am Emily and so it really does help. But I think with all the characters, in high school you are evolving and you’re changing your style, and I feel like the girls are doing that too in the show.
- All of us are completely different from how we started in the pilot and we’re just taking bits and pieces of each other’s style. I find myself wearing a little bit more accessories that I’ve maybe picked up from Aria, or like blazers that Spencer would wear. And so we’re evolving and we’re getting into really who we are, and so it’s interesting to see the arc from the beginning to now.
- Keegan: They really tell a story through our wardrobe. And I’ve also learned a lot about fashion from being on the show as well.
- Shay: He’s surrounded by girls.
- Keegan: I knew nothing about this Rebecca Minkoff person until I started working on the show. (laughter)
Q: Now that we know they’re willing to put somebody like Toby on the “A” Team and we saw Ashley saying that she would love the idea of being on the “A” Team, do you guys think “Well, maybe we could be members”?
- Troian: I think we’ve all been kind of begging for that since Season 1. I have this conversation with Janel Parrish all the time, who plays Mona. It’s so much fun to be the villain. And especially on our show because there’s just so many crazy directions (it can go). And so I think we were all kind of like “Do we get a turn, are we going to go bad”? Because you never know in Rosewood.
- Shay: We’re coming up with excuses for why our character should be it. I’m like, “Well, Emily’s the most innocent one. Don’t you think she should be one”? I mean, that would be perfect.
- Troian: And I’m like “But Spencer’s like the smartest one, so you should probably just do her (as the bad guy)”.
Q: When everyone finally knows who “A” is and then the killer of Alison what else will go on in the show?
- Troian: It is kind of fantastic. These girls’ stories will not be over the day that they realize who “A” is or who killed Alison. We’ve been provided with rich relationships, friendships, romances that people really get behind or even life changing events, like for Emily when she first came out. It’s so much more than just the trauma that these girls go through. People come up and say “Don’t tell me, but who’s ‘A’?” There’s a joy and a fun in the digging that I don’t think people want to let go of yet.
Q: Once somebody is on the “A” Team, have they irretrievably gone over to the dark side, or is part of the teasing whether or not they can be redeemed?
- Keegan: I can neither confirm nor deny that but I can tell you that what’s so great is that the relationships are so deep in the show and you never know who’s capable of what and where anybody’s going in Rosewood. The audience that watches it is always surprised by what could happen or what will happen. And the writers are so amazing because they really listen to our audience and social media and everything. But there’s no way to really ever tell what will happen. I think that’s the driving force of why people watch the show. They like to have that surprise. So you never know.
Q: Can we talk a little bit about Spencer and Toby’s relationship? The audience knows now that, basically, “A” has a mole right in the core “Liars”.
- Keegan: Yeah. We have a wow factor on the show. You will be so shocked and surprised at everything that goes on. Not just with the relationship of Spencer and Toby, but what happens in that realm of pushing the girls to their breaking points and that this phantasmagoric character and this team that lurks through the shadows, torments the girls so intensely and to see this relationship and what happens, just blow apart. It’s really fun to watch.
- Troian: Yeah. The writers and creators are investing new trust in us as actors. The storyline that they allowed me to take as Spencer this year was truly beyond, I think, anything that I had ever imagined and it has been the most amazing experience and also the most harrowing experience, because as fun as it is to play, it’s not very fun to play. Toby means so much to Spencer. He truly is the love of her life at this point. She has her girls and she has him and that’s really all she has, because we’ve seen the home that she comes from. It’s been very wonderful to explore. Once you’ve lost everything, you can do anything.
Q: And a lot is in store for Emily, right Shay?
- Shay: Yeah. I’m not going to go too far into it because I want everyone to be surprised. But I think when the girls possibly find out about Toby being “A,” I might say, that it will be probably a little harder for Emily, too, because she’s always had that special connection with Toby.
- Troian: Your connection with Toby was even before Spencer’s. They were the first friendship. You guys went to that dance together.
- Shay: We did!
- Troian: And I’m still jealous!