Pretty Little Liars has tackled storylines such as a student/teacher relationship, divorce and disapproving parents. For Shay Mitchell's Emily, high school is hard enough, and it's more difficult that "she doesn't know who she can talk to or who is going to support her" about her budding sexuality, Mitchell says.
In recent episodes, Emily has tried to figure out what her romantic feelings for new friend Maya mean.
"She's not been labeled as a lesbian ... she's kind of in a grey area and I think teens go through that phase of who am I, what do I like?"
The show (Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC Family) focuses on a group of friends whose queen bee Alison (Sasha Pieterse) goes missing. The clique, which split after Alison disappeared, reunites a year later when the girls mysteriously begin receiving messages from someone named "A" who seems to know all their secrets.
Besides the overarching theme being the mystery of who "A" is, Mitchell adds that "the writers have a good pulse for what's happening in society these days so they're not shying away from it" in their secondary storylines.
The 23-year-old actress says the fun in playing Emily is that she's "very different from myself and it's cool to put myself in somebody else's shoes which aren't any kind of shoes I would have in my closet."