Pretty Little Liars is skipping forward five years when the show returns to its new network (hiya, Freeform!) in January, but never forget: One Tree Hill did it first!

Former Tree Hill resident James Lafferty says he and his castmates were skeptical of the move when creator Mark Schwahn initially suggested it. "It was sort of a jarring proposition at first—it was like, can that work?"

Lafferty dropped by E! News to discuss his reunion with Schwahn as director of next week's episode of The Royals, Schwahn's addictive E! series, but graciously played along with our continued OTH obsession and allowed us to discuss his previous gig.

OTH was one of the very first shows to utilize the time jump tactic, but others (like PLL) followed suit. Hey—it beats an awkward go at the college years. "When you look back and see similar shows to ours try to make that jump from high school into the next chapter of these characters' lives," Lafferty says, "it's sort of awkward and clunky and it doesn't work that well."

One Tree Hill, Season 5

The CW

Instead, we caught up with the Tree Hill High gang later—and the intervening five years had done wonders for the small-town crew. "That was kind of the running joke—it was like the world's most successful senior class of a small town high school," Lafferty jokes.

It's something other teen shows might want to try, frankly. "I feel like it's going to be a standard for the genre. It just makes sense, for sure."

Check out Lafferty's thoughts about the time jump above, and tune in to his episode of The Royals on Sunday, Dec. 27 at 10 p.m. on E!.

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