When Pretty Little Liars ended in 2017, it left a Lucy Hale-shaped hole in our hearts. Viewers had gotten accustomed to seeing Aria wear wacky earrings and fail miserably to solve any of the crimes in Rosewood, so when the show ended, what did we have left? Well, Lucy Hale is back! She's starring in the new CW show Life Sentence, which premieres March 7. If you're still dragging your feet about the end of Pretty Little Liars and introducing yourself to a new show, there's no need to worry — Life Sentence isn't Pretty Little Liars, but it's still familiar to lovers of the Liars.
Life Sentence tells the story of Stella, a woman with a terminal cancer diagnosis. She's been sick for years, and her family has rallied around her to make her last years as nice as possible. Because of her illness, Stella has this "live like you're dying" attitude, mostly because she actually is dying. She forgoes college to travel, and she meets a man in Paris. This man, Wes (who is super cute), becomes her husband. They have "Sara Bareilles sex" every night, which means they make love surrounded by candles and listening to perfect music. It's a whole thing. Until, of course, Stella's doctor announces that Stella is actually cured. She's not dying — she has a whole life in front of her. But now she has to figure it out.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lucy Hale said that she wasn't planning on taking on a new television show so quickly, but there was something about Stella that she couldn't pass up. "I read [Life Sentence], and it was a no-brainer … I loved the whole idea of taking the story that we've all heard of someone living like they're dying and turning it on its head and giving this girl a second chance at life," Hale said. "To me, it was really interesting that a 23-year-old almost has to be reborn and figure out who she is."
For what it's worth, Hale is ready for a new challenge. When asked about the pressure of helming a new show, she told Entertainment Weekly, "Oh my god, you have no idea. It's horrifying yet so exciting at the same time. 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."
That said, Life Sentence and Pretty Little Liars complement each other - here's what Pretty Little Liars fans will find reassuring in Life Sentence.
The Family Drama
Every family had a secret (or a secret sibling) to hide on Pretty Little Liars, and on Life Sentence, it's true, too. Turns out that Stella's family has been lying to her the entire time she's been sick so as not to upset her. In reality, her parents have wanted to get a divorce for years, her mother is bisexual, her sister resents the fact that she had kids too early, and her brother is a ne'er-do-well that can't get it together. Oh, and Wes doesn't love the Sara Bareilles sex every night, mostly because it takes so long to light those candles.
Lucy Hale's Outfits
Aria leaned goth, and she had all sorts of Beetlejuice cosplay and weird, dangly earrings going on, especially in the beginning of the series. Stella's costumes aren't as wacky, but there are some interesting color combinations and twee little details that make me think that Lucy Hale really loves to play dress up when she's getting into character.
The love stories on Pretty Little Liars were dark and brooding, and after ABC Family turned into Freeform, there were a lot of candle-lit sex scenes between the Liars and their beaus. Spencer almost had sex in an elevator, which is a lot of what was originally thought to be a teen show. Life Sentence is also romantic, but in a more uplifting way. Wes and Stella don't really know each other, and while their relationship was built on sweet nothings because, you know, she was about to die, watching Stella and Wes evolve into an actual, real-life marriage will be satisfying. Speaking of satisfying, they also have a lot of sex, but it's not as moody as on Pretty Little Liars.
If Pretty Little Liars is a bitter, stiff drink, Life Sentence is a lighter, frothier cocktail — the ingredients are similar, but the results are different on your television palate.