When ABC Family began airing promos for Pretty Little Liars, we thought it was going to be a silly summer diversion, something to carry us through the dog days until Gossip Girl returned— but boy, were we wrong. Not only did the show pull in monstrous ratings, it received glowing praise from critics (including us!). It was so well-received, in fact, that ABC Family ordered a full season and decided to split it into two cycles.
The driving force behind Pretty Little Liars success is creator/showrunner/executive producer/writer Marlene King, who conceived the original idea to adapt Sara Shepherd‘s young adult novels into a television series. You might remember Marlene as the writer of Now and Then, If These Walls Could Talk, and Just My Luck.These days, though, you can find her on the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, moving between the writers room and the set of Rosewood, PA — home of murder, mayhem, teenage shenanigans, and blossoming lesbian Emily Fields.
I caught up with Marlene earlier this week to talk about the second cycle of Pretty Little Liars and the little lesbian storyline that could.
AfterEllen.com: Congratulations on the success of Pretty Little Liars. You’ve got a real breakout hit on your hands!
Marlene King: Thank you! We’re having fun over here in Burbank, where we’ve made our own little part of Warner Brothers into Rosewood!
AE: That’s exciting.
MK: It isexciting. There’s something about filming on the Warner Brothers lot, being a real back lot show, that makes us feel like we’re a real family here. We rarely leave the lot.
AE: Were you in Vancouver filming before?
MK: We filmed the pilot in Vancouver, but from episode two on we’ve been here in the Warner Brothers back lot.
AE: Where are you in your filming schedule? There are 12 episodes left to air, right?
MK: There are 12 episodes left to air, and we’re calling it "cycle two" of season one, which is not very glamorous. We are now filming episode 116.
In the first cycle of 10, we got very spoiled because we were filming very close to air date, and so we had instant gratification. Basically, we would finish an episode and it would air the next week. And we got all that great feedback from our fans, who are just tremendous. So, it’s been a little challenging, this back half. We will have completed all of our shows before we air the first one, and we’re missing that feedback we got the first go-around because it was really helpful.
AE: Is that scary?
MK: It’s a little bit scary, because when you’re getting that positive feedback,you know you’re getting it right. But also you want to give surprises to the fans, and make some turns and make some leaps. And you want to make sure you’re doing it at the right pace in the right direction, and Ithink we are. But yeah, it is a little scary!
AE: Is the tone of the second cycle similar to the first cycle of season one?
MK: It’s very much the same. I think if it has changed at all, it has changed in the sense that in our summer finale, "A" hit Hannah with a car. So she —or he/she I should say — has really upped the stakes. It’s not just taunting texts and teasing, it’s become a much more dangerous world for our Pretty Little Liars.
AE: So you’re not going to tell me if Hannah remembers who "A" is, or if she’s lost her memory, are you?
MK: Nope!I’m not going to tell you if Hannah has lost her memory. But, you will definitely get some answers in the first 15 minutes of the next show that airs.