I’d be lying if I said I knew much about Pretty Little Liars, which will end its seven-season run on June 27 with my not having seen an entire episode since reviewing the pilot.
But one thing I thought I knew about the soapy teen mystery series on Freeform was that, like the books on which it’s based, written by Downingtown High School graduate Sara Shepard, the show was set in fictional Rosewood, somewhere on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
(Which, thanks to Rosemont’s late Agnes Nixon, is also the area where a couple of long-running daytime soaps, One Life to Live, and All My Children, were set.)
But according to Oliver Goldstick, an executive producer and writer who’s been with the show for all seven seasons, the TV series de-emphasized the Main Line setting for fear that it might seem too rich.
“I came right after the pilot,” Goldstick said in January, after I asked him about establishing the show’s sense of place, “and I was kind of pleased that they took the money element out of it. Not to denigrate the books, but it was about a more elitist group of girls. And the country club stuff, there [were] debutante balls, and I think ABC Family [Freeform’s former title] said to [creator I. Marlene King] … ‘We’d like to take away that element.’ ”
Not everyone on the Main Line is wealthy, I noted.
“That’s true. But the books had that element,” Goldstick said. “There was a thing called the Foxtrot Ball, which was a big thing in the second book, and there was a lot of materialism that I think that the network felt would be inaccessible to a lot of the audience.”
So instead, “we looked at these Edward Hopper paintings, and talked about wanting to create this sort of Americana, where it was a place in your imagination. No one has towns like this anymore. Well, they do, but most of those shops are empty, as we know, in those small towns. It’s true. Everybody’s going to big-box stores. But this was supposed to have a nostalgic element to it as well, that was very Americana, small-town America, U.S.A.”
Pretty Little Liars will have a two-hour finale, beginning at 8 p.m. June 27, followed by a “tell-all” special featuring King and stars Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse.