promo poster for Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

5 Reasons ‘Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin’ Is Better Than the Original

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Let’s face the facts: Pretty Little Liars wasn’t a good series. I could get into why, but all of those reasons are pretty obvious. Even the former spin-offs (that I personally never watched) were cancelled after one season each. But just when people thought there was going to be no more from the Pretty Little Liars universe, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin flung the door open and winked at the camera. Apprehensive? Having a hard time believing these little liars will be any better? Don’t be. Something that the original series lacked was the commitment to the horror genre, which this spin-off fully embraces as a slasher series!

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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin follows some Gen Z little liars, who are unfortunately stalked by a masked killer named “A”. Whoever this grunting and brutal killer is has it out for them because of the sins of their parents, mysterious past events that literally have nothing to do with them. But hey, kids often pay for their parents mistakes. The first season is close to wrapping up on HBO Max and let me tell you, it’s really fucking good. Why is it better than the original series? I’m about to tell you because these aren’t secrets I’m keeping.

1. It’s a Slasher Series!

A in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
(HBO Max)

Slasher dramas have such potential and are usually fun: if nothing else you’ll get decent kills and entertaining storylines. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin took notes from the Scream franchise and made some of our characters well versed in horror. Meaning, they know what to expect and have knowledge of how slashers work. Not to mention “A” is a ruthless killer with the stalking skills of Michael Myers and the strength of Jason (the bathroom kill anybody?). Even though slashers have a reputation of being sleazy and problematic (like most made in the ’80s), modern slashers have a different vibe, which helps make this spin-off fun. If this were to be a mystery with too much soapy drama, it would be stale.

2. The Main Group Is Actually Likable

(HBO Max)

The original PLL was riddled with extremely unlikable characters and relationships. Especially the gross/predatory relationship between Aria (Lucy Hale) and her high school teacher Ezra (Ian Harding). With this fresh spin-off, there’s no teacher-student storylines, the main group isn’t cringe beyond belief, and the teens reflect Gen Z. Imogen (Bailee Madison), Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Faran (Zaria), “Mouse” (Malia Pyles), and Noa (Maia Reficco) are all flawed characters. But they aren’t annoying or getting into situations without (good) reasons. And each of the girls are versions of a final girl which is incredibly intriguing.

Even the other characters add something to the show. And there’s plenty of drama such as the sheriff being closeted, the moms being hot messes, and the whole backstory of Angela Waters.

3. The Storylines Are Very Modern

faran, noa, & tabby in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
(HBO Max)

Albeit a little ham fisted in some spots, the writers have managed to incorporate modern topics in a way that feel real, such as sexual violence, abortion (it’s mentioned very briefly), extreme bullying, teen pregnancy, and so on. Each of the girls are struggling with issues that are not far fetched. The truth is that teenagers are often dealing with some heavy shit. Especially if they are part of marginalized groups and are trying to navigate this world. Long gone are the days where drama was depicted as having a fake brother kidnap you and your best friend (like that One Tree Hill season 4 episode). Anchoring a show like this to some form of reality gives it a certain edge.

4. The Horror Is On Point

The scene above is one example of the top notch horror moments in this series. Another that’s very notable is the bathroom scene in the Halloween episode (accompanied by a metal version of “Monster Mash”). Given that it is a slasher series, there have been mind trippy moments, chase scenes, jump scares, and other classic slasher motifs.

5. The Mystery Is Top Notch

the girls talking in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
(HBO Max)

Everyone that’s watching can’t stop thinking about who “A” is. It could literally be anybody of any gender identity (don’t automatically assume it’s a man). We can rule out our main girls, but other people who haven’t been attacked yet? Fair game. Wondering who is behind the mask drives folks to continue watching. Obviously it’s also because the show is good. But knowing we might find out who the killer is in the finale is really fun. And slasher reveals can be really iconic! Aside from the killer, seeing more about why Angela Waters is the driving force behind these killers is also juicy mystery material.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is currently streaming on HBO Max.

(featured image: HBO Max)

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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.