Series- Cruel Summer
Genre- Drama, Mystery Thriller
Premiere Date- 20 April 2021
Created By- Bert V. Royal
Cast- Chiara Aurelia, Olivia Holt, Froy Gutierrez
Streaming Platform- Amazon Prime Video
Cruel Summer is a psychological thriller that follows two young women; Kate Wallis, the popular girl with a charmed life, goes missing. Another is Jeanette Turner, the nerdy, shy girl who wants to fit in the life of a popular kid, Kate. She is accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance. The drama series depicts the same day over the course of three years- 1993, 1994, and 1995 from both girls’ points of view.
Kate Wallis is a popular kid in High School. She has a perfect life, a perfect family, perfect friends, and a loving boyfriend. When Kat meets Jeanette for the first time, she is incredibly kind. But within a year she’s disappeared. On the other hand is Jeanette Turner. Jean is a shy, nerdy, and reserved girl. Her whole world lies in her family and her two best friends, Mallory and Vince. Though Turner is not a popular kid of the school, she wishes to be the one. She covertly admires Kate and wishes to be like her.
When Kate disappears on her birthday, Jeanette within no time snubs her friends and goes around taking Kate’s place. She instantly befriends Kate’s befriends and falls in love with her Kate’s boyfriend, Jamie whom she has liked since the start. Everybody’s life starts getting back on track when unexpectedly police rescue Kate from being kidnapped. In an interview, Kate reveals that her new Assistant principal, Martin Harris kidnapped her and Jeanette was the one who saw her and didn’t save her. After this, Jeanette becomes the most hated person in America for not helping Kate and taking her place in the school. Now Jeanette files a case in the court against Kate in order to prove herself right.
The story works in course of three years i.e from 1993, 1994, and 1995 of the same days starting from Jeanette’s 15th birthday.
Even though Cruel Summer seems to be a teenage drama like other shows, but it presents a mature story with a great deal of mystery and strong twists in the plot. Bert has told the story in three different timelines assisting in giving a better understanding of the events which requires great attention of the viewers. Both the protagonists look alike to a great length, therefore, making it difficult to understand things at first, as the familiarisation with the cast grows, everything starts making sense and falls into place.
Within 10 episodes, the creators provide us a marathon as the show is interesting and engaging with a lot of dramatic events that can keep the audience hooked. It includes disappearing, unusual suspects, finger-pointing, rumors, and false allegations. Bert has pulled the Mean Girls plot to a sinister end.
The perspective of the story shifts from one point of view to another of both girls. The first episode starts with Jeanette’s POV, allowing the audience to form an opinion on the rest of the characters. However, the audience gets an alternative when they see Kate’s POV episode. The hero and the villain changes with each episode, blurring the line between right and wrong.
The timeline of the show seems confusing at the start. But cinematography under three different cinematographers has made the show impeccable and a feast to the eyes. The timeline of each year is differentiated into three different colors. The yellow-orange color palette shows the past i.e, 1993 when the characters were living their own separate lives.
On the contrary, the blue environment depicts the past after Kate’s disappearance. It is the year 1994. The blue color represents the cold and depression in the characters’ lives. They have gone through enough and living their life with what happened.
The third color is grey. The grey color is used in the present current moment of history. It is the present year, 1995. The color portrays the loss and unsettling feelings. It represents the loss of Jeanette’s reputation and her mom leaving her and how she has to live with that. The unsettling feelings of Kate who demands an answer and apology from Jean for not helping her.
The Psychology Of The Characters
Kate is the main character of the show. She is a soft-spoken girl with proper elite class manners. She has good friends and a loving boyfriend, Jamie. After witnessing her mother’s affair, Kate gets emotionally affected. She falls in love with Harris and stays with him for months. Kate is an open character. She did not hesitate to tell Harris what she wants. After her rescue, she grew close to Mallory as soon become best friends with her. She wanted love and care, and Mallory did offer her that in the right amount which made Kate fall in love with her. After knowing the truth, Kate also apologized to Jeanette publically and was ready to get criticized by the public.
Jeanette is the antagonist/protagonist of the show. The high school wanna be a popular kid with a shy personality, living her teenage life with her two best friends. After Kate’s disappearance, soon Jean takes over her life having Kate’s friends and even her boyfriend. She is a liar, jealous, and manipulative character. She has secrets which she even refuses to tell her lawyer as they could go against her and portray him as negative. As the story starts to unfold, the soon audience starts sympathising with Jean, seeing her suffer so much. Her mother leaves her, her father becomes unemployed with drinking habits, her boyfriend dumps her. It is hard not to feel bad. Until, the very last shot of the show.
Though Vince Fuller is not the main character of the show, as a supporting character, he deserves to be recognized. Vince is the most loyal character of the show. He is a former friend of Jeanette but stays by her side even after the fallout of their friendship. Vince is the only person on which Kate could count. He reasons the friendship of Mallory and Jean ended because everyone decides to go their separate ways. Vince is gay. He has been honest and loyal despite having his secret romance with Ben. He is one of the best characters in the show.
Word-of-mouth can ruin the reputation in unimaginable ways and Cruel Summer is the aptest example of that. We make a lot of mistakes when we are young and those mistakes form our sanity and understanding of life. The show portrays the right psychology of how important it is for young people to know what the world thinks of them. It also compels to show what the young generation witnesses at home and the way they manage their sanity in uncertain situations.