The first time I interviewed Pretty Little Liars showrunner Marlene King, I “oohed” and “ahhed” like I was watching a fireworks display — or, well, an episode of Pretty Little Liars. It is a rare pleasure to talk to a TV writer who loves her characters with the same fervor as the fans, but that’s Marlene King. She’s as excited and passionate as we are. The only difference is, she knows the identity of “A.”
When I chatted with Marlene after last week’s season two premiere, I was determined to be more professional than last time. No “oohing,” no “ahhing,” no fangirling. But five minutes into the interview, she confessed that she’s the biggest Pretty Little Liars fangirl of all — so I was free to swoon away.
Marlene gave me plenty of scoop on the second season, and we talked about the gay-accepting world she hopes she’s helping to create with her teenage murder-mystery.
AfterEllen.com: It’s so good to hear your voice again, Marlene King! How’s it going out there in Rosewood, PA/Hollywood, CA?
Marlene King: It’s so good to hear your voice again, Heather Hogan! We’re just nursing our Pretty Little Liars premiere hangovers out here. The second season premiere was thrilling for us. People seem to be really excited about the new mystery: Where or what is Ian? And is “A” involved in his disappearance? It’s going to be a good summer. We’re going to have a lot of fun.
AE: You’re doing a 24-episode second season, right? 12 episodes in the summer and 12 in the winter?
MK: Actually, we’re doing 25 episodes this year. 24 regular season episodes and a Halloween episode. We don’t air in the fall, but we’re shooting a very special Halloween Pretty Little Liars standalone episode.
AE: Um, awesome. Is this the season we’re going to find out who “A” is?
MK: This season the girls are going to come very close to finding out who “A” is. And I think people who are really paying attention might finally have a chance to come close to guessing who it is.
AE: Oh, man, that’s me! I pay the closest attention! Ideally, how many seasons do you think Pretty Little Liars will run?
MK: You know, I think we could run five to seven seasons. I originally thought five would be good for us, but Sara Shepherd is writing new books and delivering fresh material and new mysteries to us. The mystery is a big part of the show, and it’s fun to keep guessing about who “A” is and who killed Alison, but really, I’m a fan of the show, and I have fallen in love with these characters. And I think their personal stories keep the show fresh too.
AE: I agree. The mystery just sort of adds pressure to the story. You can’t miss it because you don’t want people talking about it the next day if you haven’t watched.
MK: Exactly! And I watch the show every Tuesday with everyone else. Someone Tweeted me the other day and said, “You’re such a fangirl!” And I am! I just love the show. I love the characters. It’s so much fun.
AE: So, in terms of character stuff, what can we expect for Emily this season?
MK: Remember how “A” really went after Hanna last season? With the cupcakes and making her sabotage Aria? Well, “A” is really taking aim at Emily this time around. “A” thinks she’s identified Emily as the weak link and she’s just going to go guns blazing at her.
AE: Ooh, that’s exciting. You know, now that I’m thinking about it, Emily always does seem like the first one who’s ready to give up the information. Let’s go to the cops, let’s turn in the videos, let’s talk to a dang adult!
MK: Right, and “A” really preys upon that this summer. And “A” is really going to set Emily up. It looks like the family is moving to Texas and Emily is going to have to deliver a very big lie to her parents if she wants to stay in Rosewood. And that lie is really going to leave her vulnerable to A’s horrible doings.
AE: What about Emily’s love life? Samara is where we last left off with her.
MK: Yes, Samara is going to be around this season. One thing I love about Emily is that she’s just discovering her sexuality, so, like any other teen, she’s trying to find her type, trying to find out what kind of girl she likes. We have a lot of fun with that this season. When we started writing her this year, we realized this is a very valid place for her romantic life. Like, “What kind of girl do I like?” I know a lot of people are desperate for Maya to come back, and I will say that it’s very likely that we will see Maya again this season.
AE: Brilliant. What about Paige? Will she be back or has she breast stroked off to that great swimming pool on the sky?
MK: Paige will definitely be back. Maybe not in the first half of the season, but we will see her this season for sure.
AE: I don’t think we’ve really ever seen a teenage lesbian character who has been given the freedom to just date other girls and figure out what she wants. I mean, Emily runs the field. Not in a malevolent way, but she plays it.
MK: Right, she’s not blowing through these girls like a box of chocolates. But she’s definitely searching and looking. I don’t want to give up too much, but there is a parent in Rosewood this season — a mom, who isn’t her mom — who is going to help her get more specific about what her type is.