Rise of the Reboots: Pretty Little Liars Original Sin
*Spoiler Alert - do not read unless you have (a) seen Original Sin or (b) love spoilers as much as we do*
Image Source: Binge
This Pretty Little Liars (PLL) reboot came up both slowly and all at once. Announced in September 2020 when Australia (or more accurately, Melbourne) were in the depths of lockdown despair, the news of the reboot was - at least for me- eclipsed by the daily case numbers and the countdown until I could go back to work or see my friends again.
So when I saw that the first three episodes were available on Binge in July, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted.
The PLL franchise is no novice when it comes to spin-offs. However, none of its subsequent work has received any kind of comparative success, acclaim or sentimentalism to the original, which ran for 7 seasons. The successors, PLL: The Perfectionists and Ravenswood were both canceled after one season – sadly, clear failures in the reboot economy.
So I think perhaps the winning ingredient to Original Sin – which currently has an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a second season already announced – is that it does not feel like a reboot at all.
Original Sin feels like a tribute to Pretty Little Liars rather than a straight reboot. It has taken the bones of a good mystery, with high school angst and secrets, and run with it in a completely different direction. One of my favorite things about the show is that despite having five “liars” being tormented by A - Icould not tell you which of the new liars are meant to be reincarnations of the old.
Original Sin has provided us with some new and unique characters in the otherwise oversaturated High School Dynamic - A pregnant teen who despite tragedy is awfully optimistic (and quite nimble for 6 months pregnant), a track star with a heart of gold who has just done time in juvie covering for her mothers’ addiction, and a determined ballerina living with chronic pain from scoliosis. While I think each of the main actresses are given the opportunity to shine, Bailee Madison (playing Imogen Adams) slays throughout and reminds us why we (AKA I) was blown away by her performance in Just Go With It when I was younger.
The dual timeline between what is happening to the Liars today in juxtaposition with the cruelty of their mothers in the past adds to the storytelling – particularly in how the mothers’ treatment of Angela Waters (the central piece to the A-mystery) relates to their relationship with their daughters.
For example, Faran Bryant (Zaria) learns during the season that her mother, Corey, made her get surgery for her scoliosis against the recommendation of her doctor. She also pressured Faran to get her surgery scar removed irrespective of any further pain her daughter would experience. In flashbacks it was revealed that Corey pressured Angela Waters to get “matching tattoos” before bailing. Similarly, Noa Olivar went to juvie because of her mother, Marjorie’s, drug addiction, reminiscent of how Marjorie let Angela Waters take the fall for smoking on school grounds.
The other component to Original Sin’s success is arguably the addition of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. You might know him from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And if you don’t know him, you’ll probably know him from his use of timestamps and the almost satirical notes his slasher storytelling provides. The reboot feels at times like more of a homage to classic horror than it does the source material.
One of my only criticisms is there is only so much you can do in 10 episodes. It feels strange that these five main characters become friends so quickly – united by their hatred of one Karen Beasley. And while I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of the last episode - I am not sure that I am satisfied with the ending in the long-term.
Further I think an act of fan service in regards to Imogen Adam’s baby (those who have watched the OG and Episode 10) will know – was of poor taste when this season through the relationship of Wes and Tabby has worked hard to expose elements of grooming in relationships of impower.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the season and would recommend it to anyone who loves a mystery and good Reddit forum. With a large portion of the story wrapped up, I will be keen to see where Aguirre-Sacasa takes our Liars.