When it comes to television spin-offs, there’s always a question of how connected to source material the new series really is. Pretty Little Liars’ new supernatural spin-off, Ravenswood, is no different. Does one have to be a PLL fan to enjoy this new series about a nearby Pennsylvania town suffering from a generations-long curse? We speculate below!

The connections

The Pretty Little Liars Powers That Be have put in quite a bit of effort making the transition into Ravenswood a relatively seamless one for PLL fans. After all, one of PLL’s most beloved characters, Caleb (Tyler Blackburn), will be leading the Ravenswood cast. Also, two PLL episodes Season 4, Episode 6: “Under the Gun” and Season 4, Episode 12: “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” have included scenes set in the town of Ravenswood, and it looks like the PLL Halloween special will be set entirely within the spin-off’s title town. There’s no doubt about it that PLL viewers will have a viewing advantage over Ravenswood viewers who are not regular PLL watchers.

Distinct cast and flavor

That being said, though Ravenswood will undoubtedly carry extra significance for PLL viewers early on, it seems to have a distinct flavor that will separate it from its source material moving forward. Though Caleb is a main protagonist, it seems Miranda (Nicole Gale Anderson) will be equally important - and there are three other main characters in Luke, Olivia, and Remy who will help carry the storylines. Like PLL, it seems that Ravenswood will very much be an ensemble show.

A supernatural mystery

Furthermore, Ravenswood has at its heart its own mystery, steeped in the supernatural. While PLL is very much a story about how four friends deal with the death of their best friend and the subsequent harassment of this “A” character, Ravenswood seems to have its own deal altogether. It is about five strangers (the aforementioned teenagers) who are linked by his mysterious generations-old town cure. We’re not sure how these characters are connected or the nature of the curse the town endures, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Alison DiLaurentis or “A.” And the supernatural bent of the series adds another degree of separation from the relatively realistic PLL.

Conclusion: new viewers welcome!

We have a feeling Ravenswood will have tons to offer new viewers: a young cast full of new faces, a mysterious curse, a supernatural setting, and (hopefully) plenty of character-driven angst! PLL viewers may initially have a richer viewing experience, especially given their connection to Caleb, but Ravenswood will either succeed or fail based on its own stories and characters. After all, the most successful spin-offs work because they create their own, distinct niche in the television universe. Spin-offs fail when they rely too much on the characters, emotions, and stories of their source material. Ravenswood may be using PLL as a rather popular launching pad, but it will fly or fail based on its own strengths and weaknesses.

Do you think Ravenswood will be as enjoyable for non-PLL viewers? Sound off in the comments below!

Catch the Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Halloween special on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.