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Ah summer, that wonderful time of the year where the sun comes out, drinks start flowing and Brits venture out for the week of sunshine allocated to them. Of course, that’s not a problem shared by our teen cast in Surviving Summer, who are graced with the gorgeous weather Down Under.
Yes, we’re in Australia for Netflix’s latest tween drama, mixing surfing action with a simple, but enjoyable character-driven ensemble.
Our protagonist here is Summer Torres, a wild child who has an estranged relationship with her mother Margot. Between Margot’s busy job and Summer’s delinquent antics, things are very much on the rocks between them.
With a big work gig coming up, Margot ships off Summer to the other side of the world to stay with her aunt, Abbie, while she jets off for her next career opportunity. Predictably, Summer is not happy.
When she arrives in the tiny town of Shorehaven, Summer is taken in by the Gibson family. Of course, Summer plots her escape and attempts to make it back to the airport and, inevitably, New York.
However, despite her best efforts Summer soon comes to enjoy staying in Shorehaven, partly thanks to forming a bond with kindred spirit Ari Gibson.
Around episodes 3 and 4, the show expands out its vision beyond Summer’s antics and introduces a whole ensemble of characters with their own drama and issues.
Ari is easily one of the more interesting and complex characters here though. An accomplished surfer, Ari is haunted by the ghosts of his past, namely from a gnarly accident that occurred in the water a year before.
He’s suffering badly from anxiety before big events, even going so far as to cripple him, forcing the guy to hug his knees and breathe heavily in isolation. When Summer finds out about Ari’s condition, she’s put in a difficult spot, caught between her loyalty to Ari and telling his parents what’s happening.
Adding to the drama is Ari’s rival/friend Marlon who has quite the journey across the 10 episodes, beginning as a big enemy for Ari only to soften as we learn more about his backstory. There are also several girls here that help balance out the battle of the sexes, with Bodhi and Poppy each sporting their own problems and relationship woes.
Given the demographic this one is shooting for, it’s hardly surprising to find a good portion of this series taken up with relationships, angst and romance.
All the usual suspects of the genre are here, including the aforementioned misunderstandings, the overheard confessions and the awkward missed signals. It’s all pretty formulaic stuff and Surviving Summer never really deviates from the tried and tested path.
Ordinarily I’d be pretty hard on this but given the show is clearly tailored for a younger audience, that can be forgiven somewhat.
In fact, the show actually presents a fair amount of themes and ideas that deserve some mention here. I’ve already brought up anxiety but alongside that is everything from peer pressure to familial relationships right the way across to angst, heartbreak and wider mental health issues.
It’s to the show’s credit that it never bludgeons you over the head with any of this either. It’s all organically added to the story and it works pretty well overall.
With some well-written characters, lots of surfing action and a compelling arc for most of the characters, Surviving Summer is a leisurely watch but a fun one all the same. It is a little formulaic and cliched at times, but it’s rarely dull and never outstays its welcome.
Netflix have billed this as a tween drama and you know what? That demographic should find plenty here to make waves. For everyone else, this one’s perhaps a tad too simple to tantalize the taste buds.
Read More: Surviving Summer Ending Explained
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Verdict - 6.5/10
1 thought on “Surviving Summer Season 1 Review – Netflix tween drama catches a decent wave”
I watched it in one day. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope there will be a season two!