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The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

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Series Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty: From One Brother To The Next 

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The second season of Amazon Prime’s The Summer I Turned Pretty, made its much-anticipated debut on July 14, 2023. The show is based on a three-book series written by Jenny Han, with each new season corresponding to one book. 

One of the things that makes The Summer I Turned Pretty so unique is that Han also directs and produces the show. 

The series revolves around a sixteen-year-old girl named Isabel Conklin (Lola Tung) as she navigates the difficulties of high school and relationships. Isabel, often nicknamed Belly, is a family friend of two brothers named Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo). Each summer, Belly, her older brother Stephen (Stevin Conklin), and her mother Laurel (Jackie Chung), go to a house in Cousins, North Carolina with Jeremiah, Conrad, and their mother Susannah (Rachel Blanchard). 

In last summer’s season one, Belly struggled to decide whether she wanted a relationship with Conrad or Jeremiah. As she vacillated back and forth between them, she ultimately chose Conrad. The season ended with a heartbreaking turn of events as the characters found out that Susannah has terminal cancer with little time left to live.

Season two picks up at the beginning of the next summer, where it is revealed through flashbacks that Belly and Conrad have broken up and Susannah has died. With both families returning to the beach house, Belly’s goal is to repair her relationships with the brothers. 

With Susannah’s passing, her sister inherits the house and intends to sell it. The entire plot of season two centers around Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah all uniting to prevent the house from being sold with help from Stephen and Taylor (Rain Spencer), Belly’s best friend. They convince the sister to sell the house to their father so they can keep returning each summer. The tragic nature of Susannah’s death is the perfect stepping stone to rekindling the relationships between Belly and the brothers. 

Throughout the season, the audience starts to see Belly let go of her feelings for Conrad and instead pursue Jeremiah. The last episode shows Belly dating Jeremiah, which seems to give her a new sense of self-confidence and worth. 

Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo) dances with Belly (Lola Tung) right after she finally decides to be with him in one of the last scenes of the season.

While the love triangle remains at the forefront of the show, one of the most exciting additions to the season is the relationship between Stephen and Taylor. In each episode, the audience can see the energy between the two characters and how they bring out the best parts of each other. This gradual buildup of their connection makes their bond that much more heartwarming and satisfying.

According to Amazon Prime Video, the second season of The Summer I Turned Pretty is in the top 10 most-watched seasons on the service. It is not only the intriguing plot that makes this show so successful, but also the cinematography as the transitions from the present scenes to the flashbacks are smooth, seamless, and polished. 

Because season one ended at the beginning of Conrad and Belly’s connection, Han’s decision to reveal Conrad and Belly’s relationship through flashbacks after they broke up in season two is brilliant. It allows the audience to feel more connected to the characters and understand why they have to go their separate ways. It also makes the series much more mysterious, always leaving viewers wanting more, constantly waiting for another flashback to fill in a missing piece of the story. 

This scene was a flashback to Belly’s (Lola Tung) junior prom where she and Conrad (Christopher Briney) had their heart-wrenching breakup.

However, the music makes many of the emotional scenes in the show less powerful. For this season, Han selects very popular artists, such as Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift, which makes parts of the show feel commercialized and takes away from some of the most important scenes. On Belly’s way home from a party, she starts crying as she remembers Susannah’s death, and the song “Driver’s Licence” starts playing in the background. Although it is a great song, it seems obvious that it was only chosen because of the setting of her being in a car, and completely distracts from the emotional aspect of the scene.  

Besides the soundtrack, The Summer I Turned Pretty season two is a fantastic show that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with secretive flashbacks, unexpected relationships, and an outstanding storyline.

The show has already been renewed for a third season which is rumored to be released in the summer of 2024.

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About the Contributor
Chase Zur, Associate Editor
Chase Zur is a sophomore and this is her second semester in The Pharcyde. Chase has attended The Benjamin School since WOW and is excited to start her second year in the Upper School. She enjoys watching sports and spending time with friends and family. As a second year staff writer, Chase is looking forward to taking on more articles and improving her journalistic writing in The Pharcyde. 

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