Story by Anna Johns, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of pexels.com
Cruel Summer is set in the tiny fictional town of Skylin, Texas that takes place over the course of three summers in the mid-’90s. Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) was once an awkward fifteen-year-old with thick braces, thin-wire glasses, and frizzy hair. She is anything but popular and the exact opposite of her peer Kate Wallis (Oliva Holt).
The series takes a dark turn when Kate mysteriously disappears in the summer of 1993. One year later Jennette has slid into Kate’s place, ditching her old friends, and joining the popular crowd. With Kate still missing, Jeanette has seemingly stolen her life and even Kate’s old boyfriend. The truth is revealed one year later in 1995 when Jeanette is accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance and becomes the most hated person in the nation.
The series takes place over three summers in the mid-’90s and each episode focuses on a single day over the course of three years. The concept of multiple timelines has recently become popular and I find it confusing, but also brilliant. The bending timeline of the series allows directors to stitch together scenes that occur over three different years and combine emotions. Viewers are not forced to wait till the end of the series to watch the characters grow and develop and storylines are easily put together.
Another major pro in the series is the wardrobe transitions between the years. Each character has a distinct and consistent style each summer. In ‘93 Jeanette has thick braces, thin-wire glasses, frizzy hair, and wears colorful clothing. One year later she turns into a clone of Kate, with straight hair, stylish clothing and no glasses. When her world comes crashing down in ‘95 she sports a self-done, short, choppy haircut that’s dyed black. She wears no makeup and switches to dark baggy clothing. Other characters change over the years too, such as Kate Wallis changed from the town’s golden girl to a grungy rebel.
The interesting part is the progression of style throughout the series. In the summer of ‘93, the characters wear bright and bold colors and prints. By the summer of ‘95, the kids have grown up with their unique styles and the cast doesn’t share a connecting color pallet.
Cruel Summer has a similar feel to darker mystery shows such as Big Little Lies and Pretty Little Liars. The show focuses heavily on the tragic story of a privileged and wealthy character whose life is shattered by crime. In Kate’s case, she is a strong character whose development throughout the season is captivating.
Though Cruel Summer is not the hottest show streaming, the series is captivating and unexpected. When the story seems to be going in one direction it takes a turn and keeps viewers at the edge of their seat. Though it is a show aimed at teens the plot proves to be more than just the average teen drama. For mystery lovers, Cruel Summer is a great show to binge.