The following contains minor spoilers for The Summer I Turned Pretty, an Amazon Prime adaption of the book of the same name by Jenny Han
It’s been years, now, since I’ve been in high school. That feeling of being an adult despite not really being one is a sensation that I haven’t had in a long time. Rather than wishing that people would see me as a grownup, I find myself plagued by fears that I’m just a child masquerading as someone old enough to pay my own rent.
Despite my disconnect from that world, The Summer I Turned Pretty sucked me right back into the emotional state of being 16 years old. Lola Tung did an incredible job of portraying Belly, the main character who goes with mother and brother to their annual summer vacation only to find herself suddenly beautiful, the object of attraction not just to random boys at gas stations and beach parties, but both of her male childhood best friends, one of which has been her long time crush.
I cannot relate to being found suddenly beautiful by everyone. I was an average child, and high school didn’t do much to improve that. I can, however, relate to being so indecisive that I hurt people in the process, and that’s exactly what happened in this show. It wasn’t just Belly being indecisive, it was everyone. Her brother Steven (Sean Kaufman), crush #1 Conrad (Christopher Briney) and crush #2 Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) all had their moments of doubt that led to me screaming at my computer screen.
In a rare instance, this is a show where I don’t think all of the characters were lovable. Some of them most certainly were, in particular Jeremiah and Belly’s early fling, Cameron (David Iacono). Still, there were times where I hated everyone else with a passion. They were all messing up so badly, being rude to each other, and behaving in ways that I would not ordinarily condone. Those moments captured the emotional insecurity of high school, but the repercussions were almost enough to cause me to turn off the show.
In those moments, I was saved by the powerful connection between the moms, Laurel (Jackie Chung) and Susannah (Rachel Blanchard). Friends since their own childhoods, it’s their relationship that brings the two families back to the beach house every year. They’re each going through their own problems, and sometimes they fight, but at every moment where they could completely fall apart, they end up turning to each other for support. My favorite episode was the one that centered around the two women nearly entirely, as the two got high and spent the day reliving their college days. It’s a truly beautiful friendship that I hope to have as I grow up and start my own family.
The Summer I Turned Pretty was renewed for a second season already, and for that reason I think it’s worth the watch. The way the characters were developed sets it up for an equally delightful (and perhaps equally painful) season 2. And maybe by the time it comes out I’ll finally consider myself a real adult.