After years of threatening text messages and chasing down a hooded criminal, Lucy Hale has officially said goodbye to Rosewood. The popular murder mystery series Pretty Little Liars had a special way of keeping viewers on their toes. Fortunately, Hale's latest role as Stella on CW's Life Sentence is no different. Well, there's no "A" running through town, but the drama surrounding Stella's fatal cancer diagnosis and sudden recovery may even make you wonder if Life Sentence is based on a true story.
While there have been cases of miraculous medical breakthroughs for patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses over the years, Life Sentence doesn't seem to be based on any one story in particular. Instead the series takes a quirky and fictional look at how hard it is to live without cancer.
The brainchild of Fuller House producers Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith, Life Sentence follows Stella, a young woman who was given a diagnosis of fatal cancer eight years ago. When she finds out that she’s not dying after all, she has to learn to live with the choices she made when she decided to “live like she was dying,” according to Variety.
After making her mark as Aria Montgomery on PLL, Hale took a quick break from acting and Life Sentence is her first TV project since the show ended in the summer of 2017. Hale was particular about the project she chose to do next, adamant that she didn't want to do anything else like PLL for fear of being typecast, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“When you’re on a show for eight years, you get typecast, so a lot of the stuff that was coming my way was tonally the same [as Pretty Little Liars]. I didn’t want to do another show like that,” Hale said to EW. “I read [Life Sentence], and it was a no-brainer.”
But even though she was excited about Life Sentence and it's unique premise, saying "yes" to the role, wasn't something she did lightly. Instead Hale felt a mix of emotions because knew the pressure would be on to pick something as equally as entertaining as PLL.
“It’s horrifying yet so exciting at the same time," Hale told EW. "PLL was such a huge thing in my life, and I will always carry that wherever I go, but at the same time, that chapter is closed, and it’s really exciting to open a new book and create whatever world I want to."
Stella is surprisingly upbeat about the fact that she's terminally ill, per the teaser. She impulsively gets married, jumps out of a plane and even buys a "funeral cake." But as time goes on, viewers see that Stella has been kept in the dark about a lot of things, because her family and friends wanted to keep her happy and to give her the best shot of surviving stress free. Now with the cancer gone, the bad news everyone hid from Stella is coming to light.
"[When] we meet her, we find out she's going to live, which is great news, but she realizes that she has no idea who she is and who her family really is, because they've been protecting her in this little bubble from the reality of their problems and the reality of the world," Hale told Den Of Geek. "So when she finds out she's going to live, it's a bittersweet moment, because then at the same time, she realizes how insanely dysfunctional her family. That's been so fun to dive into in the later episodes."
Will Stella be able to survive in the real world now that her cancer is gone? More than likely, yes, but it's clear that Life Sentence — true story or not — won't make the journey easy for her.