From left to right, Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Maia Reficco, Zaria and Malia Pyles are the new “Pretty Little Liars.” Photo courtesy of HBO Max
LOS ANGELES, July 25 (UPI) — The cast of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, premiering Thursday on HBO Max, said the new chapter in the saga deals with myriad relevant issues.
In the show, Bailee Madison, 22, plays Imogen, a high schooler who becomes the target of a stalker while she is six months’ pregnant.
“It’s very rare that you have a very young woman on screen that’s well into her pregnancy,” Madison told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. “We never shied away from that, for which I’m really proud of the team and HBO committing to.”
Madison said she hopes seeing Imogen on screen encourages viewers to fight for the rights of pregnant people in real life. Imogen joins five other troubled teens at Millwood High in the series.
The daughters of women who bullied a girl in 1999 now are the target of a stalker, using the letter A just like the antagonist of the original Pretty Little Liars used. Noa (Maia Reficco) is wearing an ankle monitor and taking drug tests for reasons the show will explain later.
“She comes off a certain way,” Reficco, 22, said of Noa. “Getting to play with the intricacies of the truth and what really lies behind that facade has been so fun and so interesting.”
Then there is Faran (Zaria), who is part of the Millwood High ballet team. The competition with other dancers turns violent on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.
“I throw flowers at the feet of dancers, so it’s really amazing to be able to step into Faron’s pointe shoes,” Zaria said. “It was just work and work and work.”
And Tabby (Chandler Kinney) works at a movie theater. Her manager, Wes (Derek Klena), tries to impress her with his film knowledge and lure her into a romantic dinner.
“Being a young woman in this world, you definitely come across people like that and find yourself in precarious situations,” said Kinney, 21. “It is really important to initiate that kind of conversation and [see] the way that she navigates those circumstances with Wes.”
Because A targets the teenage girls and their mothers, Original Sin also deals with multi-generational issues. Each character learns secrets their mothers are keeping.
“Our show looks at the mother and child, daughter specifically, relationship because it can be so torrid at times,” Reficco said. “It’s something most of us relate to so deeply.”
A’s threats cause Imogen’s mother to die by suicide. So, Imogen is coping with the loss of her mother along with her pregnancy and the stalker.
“Messy is fun to play,” Madison said. “Her whole world, everything that she knew, is it a lie? Was it a lie? Was anything true or honest?”
A brings Imogen, Tabby, Noa, Faron and Mouse (Malia Pyles) together. Pyles, 22, said the women support each other’s personal crises along with their mutual crisis.
“They realize that they’re better and they’re stronger as a unit,” Pyles said. “They make a lot of discoveries about themselves, about their families and about the people in their lives through this friendship.”
In that way, Reficco said, Original Sin mimics the original Pretty Little Liars. On that show, based on Sara Shepard’s books, four best friends faced their A in fictional Rosewood, Pa.
“It’s really special to get to carry on the legacy of such a strong union,” Reficco said. “They all find so much comfort and peace within the group and within each other, and find a little bit of even a sense of home within each other.”
Imogen and Tabby were best friends before A came after them. Madison said Imogen and Tabby already have experience supporting each other.
“I think they find each other when they need it most,” Madison said.
In addition to A, the five girls face regular high school conflict with Karen (Madison Bechtel). Karen has a twin sister, Kelly, also played by the 22-year-old Bechtel.
“They’re not meant to be totally distinct, but I still wanted them to feel like real separate people,” Bechtel said. “It’s how I hold my brow, how I listen with my mouth, and the voice is slightly different.”
New episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.