Pretty Little Liars (PLL) quite possibly does suspense better than any other show on television at the moment, but ABC Family’s little juggernaut is also loaded with complex, fully realized relationships and a whole lot of heart. At the core of one of PLL’s enduring relationships is Lindsey Shaw, who plays Paige McCullers, arguably the most loyal and adorable gay character and girlfriend in television history.
A veteran actor at age 24, Shaw kick-started her career in her teens on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and later on the small-screen version of 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Since her initial appearance as Paige partway through PLL’s premiere season Shaw has guided her character through tribulations from the very real to PLL-only style outrageous. That character arc has included a battle with internalized homophobia combined with a predilection to bully, an emotional coming out, and navigating a relationship with out Liar Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell). And, if relationships weren’t tough enough, Paige had to go and fall in love with a girl who’s under continual surveillance by the A team – a ridiculously efficient, omniscient ring of blackmailers who make their lair in PLL’s tiny town of Rosewood. And as PLL shippers know, Paige’s allegiance to her girl has led to countess unsavory scenarios from enduring a kidnapping at the hands of a lunatic stalker to continually emotionally rescuing Emily from A’s endless clutches.
Despite PLL’s outlandish but deliciously entertaining central arc, the A-story as it were, Shaw has managed to bring nuance, pathos and a smoldering quality to Paige that is endlessly watchable. SheWired caught up with Shaw to chat about PLL’s new season, what’s in store for Paige and Emily (Paily), recent strides in LGBT equality and dispelling labels, and what appears to be a mutual admiration for Troian Bellisario (PLL’s Spencer).
I was on the WB lot last week and saw Keegan Allen (Toby) and Marlene King (PLL creator). I didn't see you, but it was still very exciting.
Yeah. Fans go crazy with everybody walking around. It’s awesome.
You're still shooting this season...
Yes, Pretty Little Liars does it all in one big shooting season. Even when the show takes a hiatus in the summer the shooting block shoots right all the way through. So they stop filming November fifth.
So you know what’s happening way ahead of time.
Well, not ahead of time, but we at least know the schedule. I don’t think anyone knows what’s happening.
Good point. We talked about a year ago before all of the recent amazing strides for LGBT equality – marriage in 13 states, DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, etc… How important do you think it is that we continue to have LGBT visibility and characters like Paige out in the world?
I can’t be more happy and proud that progress has been made. We have to keep fighting, not fighting – it’s not fighting. Everyone is coming around to equality. We’re losing fear, we’re adopting love and it’s becoming a nationwide thing -- part of our mainstream everyday. It needs to become visible until it’s part of our landscape. We need visibility until we can just look at people. The whole goal of this thing is to lose the labels. Labels are what keep the struggle going. I can’t be more proud of Obama. This is a new generation. The old is going out. We just have to keep up our light. Keep shining our light.
Paige looking good Season 2
Regarding the show, I have to say that we’re happy as fans that Paily is somewhat happy right now.
You know what that means don’t you?
I know. It’s Rosewood.
Yeah, exactly. What goes up must come down.
Do you think they could survive a bicoastal relationship.
I think Paily can survive anything together. They have faced death together. Paige sees Emily by her side always, and she would do anything to make it work. That being said, a bicoastal relationship, with everything that’s going on in Rosewood, I don’t know if I can leave my girlfriend and have us be able to survive. I think it’s really something on Paige’s mind right now. I think she really does fear that if it doesn’t work out to where they can be side by side, maybe their future is limited.