The Summer I Turned Pretty returned this past July receiving mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
In its first season, the Amazon Prime Original series introduced a blossoming Belly Conklin, played by Lola Tung, who finds herself the center of attention after leaving behind her tween awkwardness.
Freshly rid of her glasses and braces, Belly is torn between two love interests, brothers Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher.
Taking place one year later, the second season sees a shift in energy, delving into more mature topics and tear-jerking scenes. The familiar joy and naivety of the previous season’s Americana summer is shadowed by the death of Conrad and Jeremiah’s mom, Susannah.
The summer-escape feel of season one is shattered by the hard truth Belly faces: she can’t have both brothers, and her choice of one will result in the devastation of the other.
Throughout the eight episodes, flashbacks to the previous year unravel the seemingly happy ending of the previous season. Belly and Conrad’s big kiss and budding relationship is quickly halted by Jeremiah’s jealousy. The early stages of season two chronicle Belly and Conrad’s relationship and eventual demise, as Susannah’s worsening condition weighs on her loved ones.
In the present, audiences are confronted with a postmortem; Belly is no longer on good terms with either Fisher brother, leaving her unsure of what her summer holds, with no romantic prospects on the horizon.
The threat of losing Susannah’s beach house brings everyone together. This cliché serves the show well—the characters all band together, working toward the common goal of keeping the house and preserving memories of Susannah.
Impressive portrayals of grief and loss permeate the second season, maturing the otherwise juvenile characters.
Despite the gloomier tone of the second season and the changed dynamics between fan-favorite characters, the Team Conrad vs. Team Jeremiah debate remains consistent.
Fandoms historically love a debate between love interests—see Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and One Tree Hill as examples. Within a show that already relies on rom-com clichés, the love triangle seems to be an exhausted trope. Audiences have seen two boys fight over a girl before, and the added complication of the boys being brothers doesn’t reinvigorate the tired story.
Both Conrad and Jeremiah’s characters are well-developed throughout the show, making the choice between the brothers a challenge for both the fans and Belly.
Because the series is based on a book trilogy by author Jenny Han, fans can make educated assumptions on who Belly will finally choose. The longevity of this series relies entirely on where Belly’s heart will eventually lie. With her indecision nearly exhausted by the end of the second season, it’s no surprise her ambivalence frustrates viewers.
For the sake of the Fisher brothers alone, I’m hoping the recently green-lit season three will declare a winner in this worn-out brother vs. brother dispute.
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