The Summer I Turned Pretty is very hot

Christopher Briney (Conrad) and Lola Tung (Belly) in The Summer I Turned Pretty

Christopher Briney (Conrad) and Lola Tung (Belly) in The summer I became beautiful
Photograph: Dana Hawley/Prime Video

There’s a lot of pressure on a sophomore project to live up to the hype of its predecessor. (Look no further than almost all titles stating that conversations with friends dropped the Normal people torch.) The summer I became beautiful is the second adaptation of Jenny Han after To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (and its sequels) launched a million tweets from Noah Centineo in 2018. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a different format (movie vs TV series) or a different streamer (Netflix vs Prime Video): for all the boys set the bar by which The summer I became beautiful will be measured.

Fortunately, it measures up very well. Han is a co-showrunner and executive producer on the series, and it shows: The characters feel vivid, with warm chemistry and rich storylines that suggest they’re okay. known to its creator. Isabel Conklin (Lola Tung), affectionately and perhaps inconceivably called “Belly” by everyone in her life, has spent every summer on Cousins ​​Beach with her mother Laurel (Jackie Chung), brother Steven (Sean Kaufman), best friend mother Susannah (Rachel Blanchard), and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah (Christopher Briney and Gavin Casalegno). On the cusp of age 16, Belly returns to Susannah’s beautiful beach house with her family, hoping that this summer, the boys will finally stop seeing her as that little girl they grew up with.

Feeling the potential for a love triangle? Ding, ding, ding! But it doesn’t reveal itself as quickly as you think. The summer I became beautiful repeatedly reinforces that Belly has been in love with her older brother Conrad since she was young, but he has suddenly adopted a moody and misunderstood attitude that serves as a mystery in the first half of the season. Jeremiah, on the other hand, is a sunny, bisexual party boy, happy to follow the fun and “equal opportunity” flirtation. The show never makes a fair fight between the brothers, but it still manages to make you feel very attached to both.

And that’s where the real strength of The summer I became beautiful Lies: The six main characters (two middle-aged best friends and their four children) look like people who have spent the last 15 summers together. In particular, Laurel and Susannah, with their respective marriages more or less in the rearview mirror, paint a vivid picture of what a long-term relationship looks like, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

But what about teenagers? A summer in Cousins ​​hits many season-specific notes: bonfires, beach walks, Fourth of July festivities, volleyball tournaments. But the main event tracked throughout the season’s arc is a debutante ball, which Susannah convinces Belly to attend, much to Laurel’s dismay. Aside from the obvious question of who will accompany her, prom offers plenty of opportunity for teenage awkwardness. And cleverly, Han & Co. it has characters questioning how appropriate the very concept of such an event is, with some mention of “patriarchy” and a deb being escorted by his girlfriend. But most of these bookings are quickly dismissed on the grounds that it is for “networking” and raises a lot of money for good causes. OK! Glad we’re all on the same page!

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Official Trailer | main video

Jokes aside, the show strikes a delicate balance between lightness and weight. The summer I became beautiful It’s an extremely fun watch, but three of its main characters are of Korean descent, staying on the sprawling beachfront estate of their much wealthier, whiter friends. The series is tasked with approaching class and race in ways that feel natural to its characters’ experiences, and for the most part it succeeds, particularly in the case of Belly’s brother Steven, who is working at a country club for save money for college and has to decide if he should swallow some serious microaggressions for better tips.

However, it’s a magnetically charming Lola Tung that holds this world together (like Lana Condor before her). Unfortunately, Belly’s narration is inconsistently applied and made redundant, almost never adding anything we’re not already getting from Tung’s facial expressions. The music, on the other hand, is consistently great, perfectly calibrated for a summer-ready teen or anyone eager for a hot-weather stroll. In fact, the entire show is summer escapism (if your escapism can handle some craving and heartbreak) in TV form. the beats of The summer I became beautiful it might be familiar – predictable, even – but it’s good familiarity, like your favorite summer spot popping up for the first time on vacation.

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