“Pretty Little Liars” boss Marlene King gives us an exclusive scoop on season two

AE: I love that you guys continue to be deliberate about Emily’s sexuality, even when she’s not in a relationship. The scene with her and Toby last week was beautiful.
MK: I want a friend like Toby. It’s such a good relationship. The characters thought it was going to be romantic, but Toby was actually more wise than Emily about her sexuality. Or, well, Toby was more ready to accept it than Emily was. He and Maya both helped Emily come out.

AE: Toby turns out to be the greatest person in Rosewood. He goes from being the creepiest guy on the show to the most stable, supportive, loving friend and boyfriend.
MK: I don’t think Toby lied at all during the first season. But there will be a time this season — and you’ll be very aware of it — when he lies for the first time. And it’s going to be complicated: Why he does it, who he does it for, and how he feels about it.

AE: What’s coming up for Spencer this summer? More hats, I presume.
MK: [laughs] Well, Spencer’s parents don’t want her hanging out with Toby and Toby’s parents don’t want him hanging out with Spencer, so they’ve got some really romantic Romeo and Juliet stuff coming up this summer. They just ooze romance.

AE: They’re an old married couple is what they are — which is why I adore them. Last season when they were just quietly reading together in Spencer’s room?
MK: Oh, I know. Be still my heart.

AE: What about Aria and Ezra? I think I read that Aria’s got a new love interest coming to town.
MK: Actually, there are two new characters coming to town, one Aria knows and one Ezra knows, and it’s definitely going to put some stress on that relationship.

AE: What about Hanna Banana?
MK: Hanna is in love with Caleb, obviously. We saw that in the premiere. But he’s definitely going to have to work hard to try to win back her trust. But she’s open to that.

AE: How aware are you of online shippers?
MK: I love shippers. I love their passion. I love how dedicated they are. And most of them are wonderful, but, honestly, some of them scare me a little bit! [laughs]

AE: Rightly so. The interesting thing about Pretty Little Liars as compared to, say, Glee is that Glee is kind of a giant orgy, but your ships are a little more carved out.
MK: Right, we tell our stories over such a long period of time, and because the mystery gives the show such a heightened sense of reality, we want the characters’ relationships with each other to feel grounded. From the pilot onward, that’s really what we’ve strived for, in the girls’ relationships with each other, with their parents, and even with their partners.

AE: One of the thing that makes the show so popular with our readers, I think, is the Liars’ friendships with each other, just this idea that you can create your own family out of your friends, that you can rely on your friends in a way that you can’t rely on your own family sometimes.
MK: Yes. Those are the moments that speak to me, too. The moments where the girls just really lean on each other and enjoy each other. For example, we have an episode coming up this season where Alison was supposed to chair this charity fashion show they have every year, and she’s dead, so the girls are going to be involved in it. And you see them connecting and having so much fun. So often, “A” and hardship and misery bring them closer together, and in this episode, you truly see the joy of their friendship. And it’s special. You know, as women, we identify with that because we really do have family-friendships that that are such a huge part of our lives.

AE: Right, and I mean, a normal teenage girl like Emily — if your parents want to move you away from the town where your first girlfriend was murdered and now some sociopath is blackmailing you?
MK: [laughs] Yes, it’s not a leap! Go! But that really is how important the friendships are to these girls. One of my favorite moments in the season one finale is Emily and Hanna sitting on Emily’s porch, talking about her moving away. You’ve got all this intrigue and the bell tower and that’s what people were talking about, but I love Hanna and Emily just sitting still and Hanna asking Emily what her type is.

AE: I love that Emily’s sexuality is such a non-issue for her friends. Hanna is just as invested in Emily’s type as she is in Spencer’s type.
MK: They’re just great friends. One of the standout moments to me out of the whole show is when the girls arrange for Emily to have that last night with Maya before she left to go to the drug prison. All those candles and the romantic music playing and Hanna looks up and goes, “I am officially jealous of Emily’s love life!”

AE: Drug prison! I am using that in all recaps going forward! Are we going to see Emily’s mom this season still trying to come to terms with Emily’s sexuality?
MK: I think we’re going to see Emily’s mom this season accepting it, and trying to understand what Emily’s type is. I think Pam is going to maybe see that Samara is the girl version of the guy she would like Emily to date. And that’s a big thing for her.

AE: You know, I read an interview with Nia Peeples before the season started and she said if Pam Fields has a secret, she’d like it to be that she’s been in lesbian relationships in the past.
MK: [laughs] Oh, we’ve talked about that! So, she might not be that far off the mark!

AE: What kind of feedback have you gotten from lesbian viewers?
MK: I’m actually happy to say gay woman and gay men love this show. And I hope it is a special experience for gay women, to be able to watch these characters who are beautiful inside and out, relating to each other in such an accepting way. We all want that unconditional love by our friends and our family. And that’s what we’re creating here. Hopefully it becomes a role model for other people.

AE: I love that. And I love the normalcy of Emily’s sexuality. When I’m watching Pretty Little Liars, I’m thinking, “I hope this is the world we live in soon.”
MK: I hope so too. And that’s what we set out to do. That’s the world we wanted to create. We thought, “It’s been written a million times the other way. Let’s just put this love and acceptance out into the universe. And maybe if we build it, they will come.”

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesday nights on ABC Family.