Derek Klena plays Wes in HBO Max's 'Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin'

This Key Difference Between The First PLL And Original Sin Is So Important

Wes is extremely creepy, which is actually a good thing.

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The first Pretty Little Liars series is an iconic part of many Gen Z childhoods. From the outfits, to the mysteries, to the relationships, it’s hard to miss the cultural significance of the show. The series had its fair share of problematic and dangerous storylines, though, that the new HBO Max series, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, seems to be correcting at least some of them. One key difference lies in a new character, Wes. Here’s everything to know about this important update to the universe and the actor who is bringing this storyline to life.

Unfortunately, not all of Pretty Little Liars’ impact was positive; the grooming, predatory relationship between teenager Aria and her teacher, Ezra, was highly romanticized and barely criticized in the series. This storyline is made even worse given the fact that the main audience for PLL was middle school and high school girls who could have easily been led to believe that Aria and Ezra’s relationship was OK despite its illegal nature.

Original Sin doesn’t seem to be willing to make that mistake. In the new series there is an Ezra-like character, but he’s treated completely differently. Wes, played by Derek Klena, is Tabby’s manager at the movie theater who shows all the telltale signs of grooming, much like Ezra in the original series. He calls Tabby special and mature for her age, says she reminds him of the NYU film students he dated when he was in college, and routinely tries to get her alone in his car and apartment.

When Ezra did things like this, it was treated as normal, even romantic, dating behavior. But Wes’ predatory actions are clearly gross — Tabby is wary of his advances and intentionally creates space between herself and him, making it clear to audiences that his actions are inappropriate. Wes also isn’t sexualized like Ezra was — unlike the original series, Wes isn’t in slow-mo shirtless scenes or shown flirtatiously grinning to romantic music. This update to the PLL universe is a necessary step in recognizing the danger of romanticizing predatory relationships and starting to be more honest about the realities of grooming.

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As for the actor who plays this new character, actor Derek Klena was up to the challenge. Klena is an experienced actor, but he’s pretty new to streaming. If you’re a fan of Broadway, you might already recognize his face, or at least his voice. Klena has played the lead male roles in Jagged Little Pill, Anastasia, and The Bridges of Madison County. He has also acted in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Carrie Diaries.

It’s unclear what direction Original Sin will take Klena’s character in future episodes, but let’s hope he doesn’t end up married to one of the main (teenage) characters.