The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 2 reaches the peaks of its predecessor by significantly increasing the romance and drama.
Last year, I claimed that The Summer I Turned Pretty was the definition of a perfect summer escape. This year, while Season 2 has a much more serious tone, it still manages to encapsulate summer, for all the good and the bad. Belly (Lola Tung) has been loving summer her entire life until this year. Now with two of her closest friends fighting for her love, this love triangle has taken a turn for the worst. Moreover, Susannah’s (Rachel Blanchard of Deep Water) cancer is back, so nothing is looking bright this time around. This year is looking like it will be another unforgettable summer, but not for the same reasons that made us love the show in the first place.
While The Summer I Turned Pretty deals with these heavy topics, a lot more happens in the first two episodes that make Season 2 more of a drama than the gleeful summer rom com we got to know before. While this brings many benefits to the show, there are a lot of faults that become apparent as well. Starting off with some of the high points, since there are a lot of serious events occurring this summer, the casts get to showcase their acting abilities. This benefits Lola Tung the most, as she gets plenty of scenes where she must display many different emotions which shows how much she has grown as an actress while filming this series. Rain Spencer, who plays Belly’s best friend Taylor, gets an increase in screen time as well, and this elevates her character from the annoying best friend to one of the best characters this season.
None of the drama would work if you didn’t care about these characters. One of The Summer I Turned Pretty’s biggest assets is how easy it is to fall in love with the entire cast. Even if you don’t like a particular character, when the teenage ensemble is all together towards the middle of the season, the chemistry between them all radiates off the screen, creating all the best moments of the series thus far. Elsie Fisher is a perfect addition to the crew, as they bring a lot of the sweeter moments playing Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah’s (Gavin Casalegno) cousin. Since this ensemble looks like they are having the time of their lives filming this show, it makes watching them a lot more fun to experience.
Even though there are still a lot of those light and silly moments which made of The Summer I Turned Pretty so lovable, most of this season puts these characters in situations ranging from mildly uncomfortable to heartbreaking. The world around Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad feels a lot more realistic this time, and there are certain events that have to do with the more difficult parts of anyone’s life that occur. A significant amount of this season is devoted to dealing with some of these issues, which changes the tone for the show.
The first half of this season is filled with flashbacks which help fill in the gaps as to what happened to everyone between summers. Sadly, these scenes, while necessary, slow down the pacing a lot. While we are still familiarizing ourselves with what happened in the past, you are itching for the gang to get back together. With these flashbacks, there is also a large increase of voice over, which is always a pet peeve of mine, since what is being said could havean been explained visually with the same level of understanding from the viewer.
Of course, the show still feels like summer in every sense of the word, but not just any summer. Especially this year over least, The Summer I Turned Pretty feels like a modern time capsule of what culture is in 2023. There is an almost excessive use of needle drops from almost every leading pop star, something that I personally didn’t mind, but could easily be deemed annoying by anyone whose favorite music genre isn’t modern pop. This show is made to cause chaos on social media, from the love triangle to the ultimate golden hour moments, and it takes full advantage of this in a way that doesn’t make it feel cringe or like it’s trying too hard.
Overall, even with a slower start than preferred, The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 2 ends up just being better than the first. This isn’t the next Succession or The Last of Us, nor is it trying to be. It has characters we have learned to love, and endless good vibes throughout, even in some of the sadder moments. If you liked the first season, you are sure to love this one just as much. If you’re new to this show, please do yourself a favor and catch up! With the twists this season takes, there is sure to be plenty of conversation this time around.
The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 2 was released globally on Prime Video on July 14, 2023. Read our review of The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 1.