Year:  2023

Director:  Zoe R. Cassavetes, Megan Griffiths, Isabel Sandoval, Sophia Takal

Release:  July 14, 2023

Distributor: Prime Video

Running time: 8x 1 hour episodes

Worth: $13.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Lola Tung, Jackie Chung, Gavin Casalegno, Christopher Briney

… continues to hit every beat of the romantic teen fantasy.

A lifetime of idyllic summers have come to an end, as reality crashes down on Belly (Lola Tung) and the people she loves the most. The climactic events of Season One begin to take their toll, the return of Susannah’s cancer no longer a secret, but instead a very real dread hanging over the happy calm of the Cousins’ beach house.

The intricate love triangle between Belly and the Fisher brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah, is messier than ever, as the trio finds themselves retreating back to Cousins in search of the untroubled world that they used to know. It’s a time of transition, but the will-they-won’t-they tension from Season One has lost its shine, and at some point, you have to wonder if it would be better for the Fisher family as a whole if Belly would just leave these boys alone.

Between the technicolour haze of party montages and a soundtrack spilling over with Taylor Swift songs — including one from the newly released Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)The Summer I Turned Pretty continues to hit every beat of the romantic teen fantasy. More than once, the show straddles the line between regular teen drama and just fully committing to transitioning into an Olivia Rodrigo video, but somehow, the longing stays on just the right side of wistful to keep things from devolving into a TikTok trend.

When it comes down to it, this is Belly’s story, and everyone outside the big three falls neatly into the realm of background character. This includes poor Steven (Sean Kaufman), Belly’s own brother, who is now starting out on his own journey into adulthood without his two closest friends there to celebrate him thanks to the mess of broken hearts. It’s a shame that so little screen time is spent on digging a little deeper into the family issues outside the brotherly rivalry between Conrad and Jeremiah, and yet the result is that the aforementioned background characters become even more likeable for their low maintenance drama.

The show continues to do exactly what it offered up in Season One, more pretty people falling in and out of love and breaking each other’s hearts. There’s a lot of ground that could be covered and some interesting stories to be told, but with a limited run of episodes, the show keeps the focus on the main trio instead of delving into any of the B-plots, and yet somehow this is more of a strength than a failure on the part of the writers. The time devoted to Belly and the boys serves to strengthen what could be a one note concept and allows their saga the time to blossom into a story that remains intriguing enough to carry over the whole eight episodes.