Freeform’s Cruel Summer was the surprise hit of 2022! The series is a teen drama mystery thriller television series set in the small town of Skylin, Texas, and followed the lives of two teenage girls, Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) and Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt).
The story is told over three summers in the 1990s. In the summer of 1993, Jeanette is an awkward outsider who befriends Kate, the popular girl in school. However, Kate goes missing in the summer of 1994, and Jeanette takes her place as the most popular girl in school. Then, in the summer of 1995, Kate reappears, and Jeanette is accused of being involved in her disappearance.
I loved the first season of Cruel Summer so much! It’s absolutely a must-watch for fans of teen dramas, mystery thrillers, and 1990s nostalgia. It is a well-crafted and suspenseful series that will keep you guessing until the very end.
When season 2 was announced we learned that the series will become an anthology series leaving Jeanette and Kate in the past and will follow a new set of teens.
CRUEL SUMMER SEASON 2 BRINGS NEW CHARACTERS, MYSTERY, AND DRAMA!
Cruel Summer’s Season 2 is set in a super small town. The three timelines to follow are July 1999, December 1999, and Summer 2000. Each timeline is very distinct with the use of coloring a la Twilight. July 1999 is bright and happy. However, December 1999 has the infamous Twilight Blue Hue. Then, Summer 2000 has a Green Filter along with angry music and slicked-back hair.
The main character of the storyline this far is Megan Landry (Sadie Stanley), a high schooler who is very guarded. Her best friend Luke Chambers (Griffin Gluck) who comes from an affluent family with the pressures of living up to the family legacy. Then there’s Isabella (Lexi Underwood). Isabella is an exchange student living with Megan’s family. She has lived all over the world and for some reason has come to their small town.
We also meet Megan’s mother, Debbie (KaDee Strickland), as well as Luke’s father (Paul Adelstein). If we learned anything from season one we know these two are going to have a part in all the drama.
Season 2 of Cruel Summer begins in the summer of 1999. The scene is set and full of nostalgia from the wardrobe to the set design, and of course the music. Isabella first arrives and Megan is far from thrilled. Megan is incredibly curt to Isabella but is also forced to hang out with her and introduce Isabella to all her friends.
During this timeline, we see Isabella and Luke flirting with each other, and Megan giving her permission to pursue something. However, Megan doesn’t hide her jealousy well at all. The two girls couldn’t be more opposite. Megan is brainy and wants to go to college for computer science. Isabella is a “student of life”.
DECEMBER 1999 – BLUE FILTER
Cruel Summer jumps a few months later. We see that Megan is dating Luke and getting into her dream college! Megan and Isabella are no longer frienemies and are each other “ride or die”. The girls head to the cliffs to celebrate Megan’s college acceptance and cliff dive together reenacting their best Bella Swan moment.
We also learn that while Megan and Luke are dating it turns out their parents are also dating. This storyline is very Riverdale of them. Then we head to the Chambers’ annual family Christmas Party. There’s fun, laughs, and drinks and Luke even tells Megan, “I love you”. This is such a huge moment for them because it’s the first time they have said these words to each other. Megan is on Cloud 9. That is until the huge reveal of some of the main drama of the season.
At this annual Christmas party, they always watch a Christmas movie. However, this year once the tape begins we’re not watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Instead, it’s a sex tape of Luke and Isabella! Now, this might sound crazy…but I wasn’t mad right away. When was this tape made? Did he cheat or did they possibly date? Also, who played the tape at the party? Who filmed it? Was it consensual? I have so many questions!
SUMMER 2000 – GREEN FILTER
The tone of Cruel Summer completely shifts with this timeline. The music is heavier, and Megan is no longer her happy self. Instead, she’s turning goth with a dash of illegal coder chic. It’s very Angelina Jolie in Hackers. While walking through town we learn there is a missing person. While looking at the sign Megan says, XXXX “non of this would have happened if she didn’t come to town.”XXX , So, who’s missing? Is it Isabella? Why did Megan turn dark?
So much has happened in such a small amount of time. While in town, Megan overhears whispers about the police finding a body in the lake. We then cut to a very incriminating montage of Megan looking at Isabella’s driver’s license, as well as her frantically cleaning blood. In the world of Miley Cyrus, “What does it mean?!”
When the time comes to reveal who the police find in the lake it turns out not to be Isabella but Luke! We see Megan watching the scene and Isabella walks up to her and says, “We have to get our stories straight”. And episode one ends!
CRUEL SUMMER SEASON 2 EPISODE 1 “Welcome to Chatham” REVIEW
“Welcome to Chatham” Episode 1 for season 2 of Cruel Summer has set the bar pretty high. I wasn’t sure if they could match the first season, but so far I’m excited. While season 1 took place in the early 90s, I love that this season heads to Y2K. It’s the turn of the century, the music is fantastic, and weirdly the fashion is making a comeback. So, it’s not too far off from today.
Sadie Stanley (Goldbergs), Lexi Underwood (Sneakerella), and Griffin Gluck (Tall Girl) are fantastic together. They all have great chemistry whether its as friends or love interests. You can feel all the layers they’ve added to these characters for the 3 timelines.
This entire episode had me the entire time. The building of the characters and storylines was done really well. The interweaving of the red herrings kept me guessing the entire time. What caused the rift in the girls’ friendship? Who killed Luke, and why? What happened with the sex tape?
Hopefully, we’ll get a couple of answers to these questions in the next episode! Thank you Freeform for the double-episode premiere!