Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Summer I Turned Pretty is a proper guilty pleasure. It’s not a particularly difficult or complicated show, nor does it do anything original or unique on the small screen. What it does do, however, is depict a simple romantic teen drama with flair and style, bringing the novel of the same name to life in an enjoyable way.
With Amazon announcing an early season 2 renewal prior to me writing this review, it’s clear the studio have confidence in this one, and it’s easy to see why. With plenty of beach bods, abs, teen drama woes, love triangles and an absolutely cracking soundtrack (which I’m not allowed to talk about in this review!), this one feels ripe to become a summer sensation.
As a 34 year old male, I do appreciate I’m not the demographic here but there’s an undeniable energy to this one that makes it hard to resist – and easy to binge.
For those not familiar with the novels, the story centers on Belly, a 15 year old girl who has spent every summer at a lavish house owned by her mum Laurel’s friend Susannah. Her two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad, are close with Belly and the two families have essentially grown up together.
Belly has been crushing hard for Conrad since they were little. With Belly’s brother Steven settling into an easy bromance with Jeremiah, the stage is set for Belly hooking up with Conrad as hormones crackle, vibes change and feelings grow. Only…that’s not quite the fairytale end we get.
When Belly and Steven arrive for their latest summer romp, on the eve of Belly turning 16, Conrad is distant. He’s now with a girl called Nicole and he’s a little hostile toward Belly. Belly, taken aback, finds her world turned upside down when Susannah decides she should take part in the upcoming Debutante Ball.
Essentially serving as a “coming of age” party, Belly dives into this and in doing so, finds herself romantically linked to a guy called Cam. It all seems like a match made in heaven but for Belly’s complicated feelings for Conrad. Will Conrad and Belly realize their true calling? How will Jeremiah play into this? And will nice-guy Cam convince Belly that he’s the one she’s been looking for? Or even still, is there another twist in this tale to come?
All of these questions playfully dance around the periphery of this romantic drama. For the most part, The Summer I Turned Pretty keeps things engaging, with lots of drama peppered in across the run-time.
Most of this is resolved rather quickly, with misunderstandings refreshingly dealt with through a quick chat rather than prolonged through an entire season. It’s one of the most annoying tropes in romantic dramas so it’s actually quite refreshing to see these incidents resolved in a realistic way.
Beyond that though, most of the stories subplots play second fiddle to Belly’s “perfect summer”, with Laurel’s romance a particularly egregious example of skipping important details in character development. There’s absolutely no chemistry or decent build-up to what happens with her and at times it feels like an afterthought.
Likewise, Steven drifts through different subplots, although there is a particularly nice moment where he shines while talking to Shayla about his feelings.
With each episode clocking in at around 44 minutes or so, this is a light, breezy show to watch and perfect fodder for these warm summer months. There are faint wisps of Dawson’s Creek and Outer Banks here too, at least in terms of character and romance, but The Summer I Turned Pretty marches to the beat of its own drum, and it’s all the better for it.
Sure, that beat may be familiar and the series doesn’t really do anything all that original or different, but as a real home comfort, Amazon’s latest romantic drama certainly hits the right notes.
The Summer I Turned Pretty releases on Amazon Prime Worldwide on 17th June 2022!
Verdict - 7.5/10