The Summer I Turned Pretty is another young adult coming of age drama from Jenny Han, who created the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. The main character is a Korean-American girl just turning 16.
In The Summer I Turned Pretty, Belly (Lola Tung) has shed her braces and glasses and turned into a blossoming teenager who is ready to experience her first romance. The question through the 7 episodes of the first season (another season is already on the way) is who will that romance be with?
Every summer two families spend their summer at the beach. Their moms are best friends. Susannah (Rachel Blanchard) owns the vacation house on the beach. Her two sons are Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad (Christopher Briney).
Susannah’s best friend is Laurel (Jackie Chung). She has two kids as well, Steven (Sean Kaufman) and Belly.
Most of the people who spend a whole summer in this beach paradise are rich, including Susannah. They have yachts and throw debutante balls. Laurel is a writer, but not rich. This creates some conflicts in the teens minds as they navigate the summer social life.
The central theme in the story is Belly’s crush on Conrad. That potential romance has issues, so Belly tries out a local boy (David Iacono) as well as Conrad’s brother Jeremiah. The tension that keeps much of the plot moving is which one of the two brothers will end up with Belly – or will it be someone else entirely?
There’s a lot more going on. The adults have their own serious issues to deal with and there are plenty of other teens around to complicate things. The series is aspirational in an Instagram-perfect sort of way with beautiful people doing exciting things against a gorgeous background.
The series will garner devoted fans from its teen fan base, with lots of debate about which boy Belly should finally be with. Are you team Conrad or team Jeremiah?
There was much attention devoted to the debutante ball and an entire episode spent on a volleyball tournament for charity. The fathers of the teens weren’t around much. They existed in the background conversation.
I found the adult relationships interesting, especially the strong bonds between Susannah and Laurel. Their love lives didn’t get left out. The characters were well defined. Jeremiah was bisexual, and one of the girls at the debutante ball brought another girl as her date. Neither of these facts were made into a big deal.
The series must have a budget of at least $200,000,000 for music because the sound track is filled with current hits from big stars.
Season one was directed by Erica Dunton. The entire series is available on Prime Video.