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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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‘Pretty Little Liars’: Troian Bellisario on the Summer Finale


With its heavy use of teen melodrama and a central mystery fueled by texting, the ABC Family series “Pretty Little Liars” has drawn comparisons to “Gossip Girl.” In the case of “Liars,” a popular high school girl named Alison DiLaurentis has disappeared, and her four grieving best friends find themselves taunted by someone known only as “A” — whose hectoring texts suggest the girls know more than they’re saying.
Since its June debut, “Pretty Little Liars,” which airs its mid-season finale tonight, has quickly become a summer hit for the network. Speakeasy caught up with co-star Troian Bellisario, who plays the upright student Spencer Hastings, to discuss the show’s popularity and what fans can expect going forward.
The Wall Street Journal: Why do you think the show has become so popular?
Everybody loves a good mystery but it also doesn’t shy away from the issues that everyone is going through at the age the girls are. Some people are struggling with their sexuality, people’s parents divorce, they have issues at school — the show is sympathetic to the characters and what they’re going through.
The content is a little racy considering the series airs on ABC Family.
What was shocking to me was when I first got the script, I thought, I know exactly what kind of show this is going to be. I’d seen “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” Then I read my audition scene and Spencer was bumming cigarettes from her sister’s fiance and shamelessly flirting with him. I know it’s not an HBO show but it’s pushing the envelope as far as ABC Family goes. They realize TV should reflect reality, and in reality young girls are struggling with their sexuality.
What can you tell fans about the finale?
I can’t say much but I will say that one of the girls finds out who A is.
One of the girls or the viewers?
One of the girls.
Could the show continue to exist if A’s identity is revealed?
I think it would exist and be interesting to watch. Once you know, then the audience gets to participate. But I don’t think we’ll let the audience find out who A is too soon. It’s more fun this way.
How much do you know about future plotlines?
Honestly, I know nothing. They keep us in the dark. The crew get scripts usually four days before we tape. They give the scripts to us, at the most, a day or two days before. We’ve gotten scripts at 2 a.m. before the day we’re filming. Sometimes you get a script far in advance but often you’re shooting so quickly. TV is fast.
Your father, Donald P. Bellisario, produced hit shows like “Magnum P.I” and “NCIS.” What’s the best piece of showbiz advice you got from him?
Never forget that it’s a business.
You can leave your thoughts about “Pretty Little Liars” in the comments.

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