Little Lies in Lebo

Two podcasters who are young women.
Phoebe and Caroline Connell host The Pretty Little Podcast, an appreciation of the TV show Pretty Little Liars, which is based on a series of books written by another Mt. Lebanon resident, Sara Shepard.

An unhinged TV drama described as the teen version of Desperate Housewives, Freeform series Pretty Little Liars has captivated a cult-like following ever since it premiered in 2010. The show follows four best friends living in Rosewood, a wealthy fictional town in Pennsylvania, a year after their group leader, Alison, went missing. Soon after her body is found, the remaining girls are harassed by “A,” the anonymous antagonist who threatens to expose their deepest secrets.

Sound like the plot of a daytime soap opera? That’s the idea. “The show is so outlandish,” Caroline Connell, co-host of The Pretty Little Podcast said. “There’s lots of vehicular manslaughter,” she added with a laugh.

For Mt. Lebanon sisters Caroline and Phoebe Connell, the show was a huge part of their youth and continues to hold a special place in their lives, as they host a popular podcast dedicated to the drama. The pair grew up on Lyndhurst Drive and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 2013 and 2019,  respectively.

The podcast was Phoebe’s idea. She was a junior in college, on her “800th rewatch” of the series she started watching at 8 years old, and needed an outlet to talk about it with a wider audience. “I’m just grateful Caroline said yes to talk with me about this silly show from 10 years ago. It’s been surprising and unexpected how we’ve built this thing from the ground up,” said Phoebe. The podcast is equally a pop culture recap and a Pretty Little Liars recap, a way to keep it current and relevant when talking about a show that ended seven years ago.

The podcast debuted in 2022, when the sisters were both still living in Mt. Lebanon. Not long after, Phoebe moved to Nashville to work in royalties for a record company, while Caroline stayed in Mt. Lebanon, where she lives on Cochran Road and works as a marketing coordinator and musical theatre voice teacher. Now in different time zones, they record their podcasts over Zoom. Each week, Caroline and Phoebe watch an episode and take notes on their own, then start a recording and talk for hours, first about current pop culture happenings and then about the show. Reality TV shows, celebrity gossip and music from pop stars like Taylor Swift are some of the most frequent topics.

“It’s so nice to know we have a set amount of time to talk each week,” said Caroline. We’re a little bit more unguarded because we’re talking to a family member, but that makes for some of the best moments on the show.”

The episodes are 1½ to 2 hours, which for avid podcast listeners, might seem a little long. Yet, the sisters said their audience prefers the long episodes. “It feels weird that people want to hear us talk for that long,” said Caroline.

The podcast achieved a milestone recently, premiering its 100th episode in March. It’s been downloaded 150,000 times in the last year and a half, with an average audience size of 3,000 to 4,000 listeners a month from 85 countries.

One of those listeners is Sara Shepard, Mt. Lebanon resident and the author of the book series which the show is based on. “She followed us in December 2023,” said Caroline. “We absolutely freaked out. It was so cool.”

Some have suggested that Rosewood, the setting of Pretty Little Liars, is a town that’s eerily similar to Mt. Lebanon, albeit with more murder and kidnapping. Phoebe noted, “The show feels like growing up in Mt. Lebanon. It really connects me to my adolescence in that way.”

Producing the podcast has becoming a full-time job for the sisters. “We’re lucky to have our own in-house manager, Georgia Connell—our mom,” said Phoebe. “When we go to the family house, it becomes a business meeting.”

One can’t help but wonder if there are similarities to famous “momager” Kris Jenner.

The sisters plan to keep the podcast going, long after they’ve run out of Pretty Little Liars episodes to cover. They’ve cultivated a fan base that looks for their pop culture commentary and relatable family stories, just as much if not more than their recaps of the show. Lucky for them, pop culture continues to be just as entertaining and bizarre as the plotlines of their favorite teen murder-mystery.

You can find The Pretty Little Podcast on all streaming platforms, and content on TikTok @pretty_little_podcast and Instagram @theprettylittlep0dcast.