2:37pm PT by Ryan Gajewski
'Pretty Little Liars' Creator on Divisive "A" Reveal and If Season 7 Will Be Its Last
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday's summer finale of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars.]
Pretty Little Liars finally revealed the answers to all of its biggest mysteries, but that doesn't mean that fans' head-scratching is over.
In the ABC Family drama's season-six summer finale, the Liars discovered that "A" is actually a transgender woman, Charlotte (Vanessa Ray), who was born as Charles Dilaurentis and changed her name to CeCe Drake when she met Ali's (Sasha Pieterse) friends. Sara Harvey (Dre Davis), who was revealed to be her accomplice, ended up in the hospital, and Charlotte herself threatened suicide before ultimately turning herself in. At the very end of the episode, the series jumped ahead five years to Ali calling herself "Mrs. Rollins," which is where things pick up when season six resumes in 2016.
Creator Marlene King tells The Hollywood Reporter that, while transgender storylines have become popular on TV of late, this "A" twist has been in place for years, although she's not sure what exactly gave her the idea. "Things just sometimes pop into your head as a complete thought, and if you're a writer, that's always an amazing thing," she explains.
King also discussed what Charlotte's involvement will be in the series moving forward, what's next for the Liars after the time jump (mystery wedding alert) and how long she envisions the show running, now that the "A" mystery is no longer driving the story.
How long have you've known that CeCe would be "A," and how did you make that decision?
It was at the beginning of season three when we decided that someone was going to steal the game from Mona (Janel Parrish). We narrowed down our list of characters, and when we came up with the "CeCe is Charles" story, it really just felt like it was the right layer and [a] painfully tragic but beautiful story to tell.
It's interesting that you conceived of a transgender story element years ago, as it has recently become more hot-button. How did you decide on the transgender twist, and what is it like to have seen the topic dominating conversation lately?
I remember when I came up with the idea, I was like, "This makes so much sense with playing with the dolls and our whole doll theme, and why would this person treat the girls like they're dolls." Coming up with all that backstory just seemed to fit so nicely, and we really wanted to give "A" a soul and not just see some person who snapped.
How involved will Charlotte be in the rest of the series? Can she be redeemed, and will she still be part of the Liars' lives?
We will see her when we come back. The reason Alison stays behind and doesn't leave with the other girls at the end of last night's episode is because she wants to take care of Charlotte — she and Jason (Drew Van Acker) both become the family to her that she never had. [Charlotte] definitely is working to get better when we see her next.
This is a big shift for the series, given that the focus had been on learning "A's" identity. Do you have a sense of how the entire series will play out, and are you thinking that season seven is likely to be the last?
There's a new mystery and a new story that starts up when we come back in the next episode, and that story will most likely end at the end of season seven. So it's a great final, gigantic mystery twist — I think it's the biggest we've ever had. And that feels like season seven is probably a good time to end that story. But we'll see — we have a little time to play with it. But we're definitely moving in that direction.
What can you tell us about the finale's final scene, which teased the time jump? Where are the girls in their lives when the season resumes?
We see [Ali] write her name on the board — so she's gotten married. And she went to college at Hollis so she could stay close to Charlotte. Hanna's (Ashley Benson) engaged — we saw the ring on her finger when she ran into that classroom. And the girls have spent five years apart — they've had five "A"-free years of life just to live a normal life — as normal as they can, having survived all of this. There's a very great scene in this first episode back where Aria (Lucy Hale) talks a little bit about the residual "A"-ness affecting her life, and it's great performance. She did an amazing job with the scene. So they come back together — they've been apart for five years — and they're very excited to see each other, but they still have secrets, too. They've had five years of being apart to need to cover up some of what they've been doing.
And will there be new tension between the Liars?
They are definitely all still friends, and they rely on social media to stay connected like most people that age. But they are all living in different cities when we first meet them in the episode.
There's a wedding coming up this season — is Hanna getting married?
There is a wedding in season six. I'm not going to tell you whose it is, but somebody does get married in season six — but it's not necessarily Hanna.
Who are the Liars referring to when they tell Ali that someone is after her, and is it someone we've met before?
You have to wait and see! But there is a Big Bad in this new world that we're creating as we move forward, and the Liars are talking to Ali about the person they suspect to be this Big Bad.
Which recurring characters will return after the jump?
We will see Sara Harvey, we'll see Lucas (Brendan Robinson), we'll see Melissa (Torrey DeVitto), we will see Ezra (Ian Harding) and Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Toby (Keegan Allen). We will ultimately see Jenna (Tammin Sursok). We'll see all the parents. So it's a big, bold new world.
Sara Harvey has been a polarizing figure among fans, so it's interesting that she'll still play a role moving forward. What's next for her?
Last we saw Sara Harvey, Emily (Shay Mitchell) punched her, and then right before they say goodbye, Emily says she heard Sara was getting out of the hospital, and we're like, "What is she talking about? She just punched her, right?" And then they're all, "What happened to her wasn't our fault." So something happened to Sara Harvey that we're going to find out about when we come back. She's a little bit of a mysterious character in our world, and it's going to be fun to watch that play out.
How have you felt about fan reaction to the "A" reveal? Were you hoping for different responses?
I think the reaction was great. I think it's great to have people talking about who it is, great to have people debating about who it is. That's what I love about this show is, there's lots of theorizing, lots of debating and agreeing and disagreeing in our giant PLL family.