‘Cruel Summer’ looks at teen drama

Category: Television


Cruel Summer is the new teen drama on Freeform. The story is set over three summers and bounces back and forth between the three. This is a psychological thriller focusing on two young women who come of age during these three years and also face a traumatic experience.

Kate is the popular girl at school. She has a rich family with a large house, a fabulous wardrobe, and perfect hair. Is her life as wonderful on the inside as it looks on the outside?

Jeanette is the nerdy girl. She wants to be one of the cool girls, but just cannot quite get past the guard of Kate.

Then Kate is abducted. What happened to this sweet young girl? When she points the finger at Jeanette, Jeanette turns to a dark place.

The way the three summers unfold in fragmented units is a bit challenging. Viewers must keep up with the different years and the different characters. It was a bold decision to use this format to show the story unfold. However by doing so, viewers see what has happened to the characters over the years. Are they really who they appear to be? Is Kate the sweet innocent young woman and is Jeanette the conniving, backstabbing young woman she is framed to be?

All is not what it appears to be. People are not who they appear to be. What goes on inside of them is usually kept secret, and that is the case with these two young girls. How does Jeanette go from being the fun-loving nerd to the most despised person in the country? Is this a justifiable judgment? Or are there other things at play here? It’s obvious to viewers that nothing is obvious. Who is really telling the truth? Is Kate lying or is Jeanette hiding something? Or perhaps Kate is really hiding things about her life. Who can we believe?

Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes, Blake Lee and Brooklyn Sudano star in this teen drama that looks at life, friendships, popularity, jealousy, greed, and family.

Aurelia, who plays Jeanette, stated at a virtual press conference, “I think that it was a really unique opportunity to be a part of this show because there was such an evolution of Jeanette Turner and her character.  And I think that each year kind of represents a different element of all of our lives, you know, the darkness, the sadness, the youthfulness.  And I think that, obviously, wardrobe and hair and makeup play a big part in it.  And mentally, you kind of have to differentiate where you are and what you’re thinking and what’s going on.  But I think it’s a lot in the mindset and just trying to understand her and understanding how much people can change and what she’s going through over these three drastic years.”

Kate is played by Hold who said, “I think we see the entire cast go through a really big journey within the three years.  But as far as Kate goes in her past and her history and where she comes from and who she is, we’ll see a big shift from those three years.  And she comes from a family who is very complicated, which, I think, makes her as a young female trying to understand who she is; it really shines a light on the complex part of being a teenager and trying to figure out who you are in the midst of a million things that are going on.  And I think she is really kind and really smart, and I think you’ll see a lot of different layers of her in all of the years.”

Cruel Summer premieres Tuesday, April 20, 2021 on Freeform. It is a good series for summer viewing.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 25 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books, is the entertainment correspondent for Good Day Orange County, and has her own TV show, Beyond the Red Carpet, on Village Television in Orange County. She is a longstanding member of the Los Angeles Press Club and the Television Critics Association and is accredited by the MPAA.

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