The Big Picture
- Season 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty has shifted focus from the love triangle between Belly and the Fisher brothers to an ensemble cast of side characters.
- The relationships between Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah feel rushed and underdeveloped, with not enough screen time to fully invest in their romantic connections.
- The show needs to bring Belly’s relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah back to the center to regain the impact of their love triangle. The writers must decide how to balance the growing central cast and prioritize the primary relationship.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is, at least according to the books, a coming of age story about Isabel ‘Belly’ Conklin, who finds herself one summer falling for (and choosing between) the two Fisher brothers she had grown up with. The three books in the series, written by Jenny Han, who also adapted the story into Prime Video’s hit show, tell the love stories between Belly and the two of them, leaving readers in suspense until, at the very end, we find out who she truly chooses. Season 1 of The Summer I Turned Pretty, the TV show, kept the heart of the series intact. While the writers fleshed out many characters who didn’t have much impact on the plot in the written series, the thesis of the show remained the same: Belly (Lola Tung) loves Conrad (Christopher Briney) and also Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno). They, with no competition, were the center of the story.
With The Summer I Turned Pretty‘s Season 2 now airing, it seems the show has taken a different direction. Many of the main plot points remain the same: the group reunites at Conrad and Jeremiah’s beach house in Cousins, where both they and the Conklins have always spent their summers, under the very worst circumstances. After the Fisher matriarch, Susannah (Rachel Blanchard), devastatingly passes from cancer, the brothers find out that their cherished home has been put up for sale. But rather than focusing specifically on the love triangle between Belly and the Fisher boys within this tragedy, the writers have developed enough side characters where the show now feels like an ensemble cast — the trio’s love triangle is merely a plot point, not the main event. While most of these side plots are truly successful, it feels like Belly’s relationships are the least thought out of the season, and, as a result, they’re also the least interesting. With the show recently being renewed for a third season (the final one, if they continue to follow the cadence of the books), on thing is clear: the writers need to bring Belly’s relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah back to the center of the show.
‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ Season 2 Sees More Characters Than Ever
Season 2 has brought back plenty of recurring cast members, and added a few more to the mix as well. Taylor (Rain Spencer) and Steven (Sean Kaufman), Belly’s best friend and older brother, get an incredible will-they-wont-they plot that, if we’re being honest, steals every scene they’re in. Cam (David Iacono), who was a relatively minor character in Season 1, comes back for some hijinks and a sweet romance with Conrad and Jeremiah’s long-lost cousin Skye (Elsie Fisher). Most significantly, Skye arrives with their mom, Julia (Kyra Sedgewick), the Fishers’ aunt, who inherited their summer house from their late mother and is the one selling it out from under them. All of these characters get their own backgrounds, side-plots, and dramas — including a deep dive into Julia and Susannah’s complicated family history, which was definitely not present in the books (Julia and Skye’s characters were created specifically for the show). With only one hour per episode, there just isn’t enough screen time to go around.
Belly’s Relationships With Conrad and Jeremiah Feel Half-Baked
The result of this is, unfortunately, that many of the plot points in Season 2 feel rushed. This is true for quite a few of the characters, but especially for Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah, whose relationships are moving and changing at a rate that doesn’t match the time we spend with them on screen. The audience gets glimpses of Belly and Jeremiah’s chemistry – which, to Tung and Casalegno’s credit, is palpable – but not nearly enough backstory to cement their romantic relationship, or to give the viewers a chance to invest in it. In fact, it seems that their chemistry showed up a bit out of nowhere. We’re told that something has changed, or grown, between them, but it still feels sudden and, if we’re honest, a bit jarring. With Conrad, more of the blanks are filled in: the audience sees flashbacks to Conrad and Belly’s relationship, which started at the end of the previous summer and fell apart around prom. There are wonderfully sweet moments as well as some more complicated ones — Susannah’s illness and passing understandably affected them deeply. However, there’s not much time devoted to their relationship in the present, and while Conrad is clearly on edge around her, Belly seems significantly breezier to the ex-boyfriend she has loved her whole life. Her focus seems to be firmly on her new chemistry with Jeremiah, who is hesitant to start something up again for fear of getting hurt (not for fear of hurting his brother, which is a baffling lack of consideration, but that’s neither here nor there). She and Conrad don’t have an actual conversation about their relationship until Episode 6, which leads to an emotional scene on the beach that, while truly heartbreaking, left us thinking — where did that come from? Love triangles rely on tension, and tension takes time. By shifting the focus to side characters, The Summer I Turned Pretty has taken away the impact of their main ones.
The Summer I Turned Pretty has just been renewed for a third season — though we don’t know what will happen with the Cousins home, we can hope that the group returns to the beach for one last summer. With the developments of this season in mind, we’re curious to see how (and if) the writers will recenter Belly’s relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah. Without it, they run the risk of losing the impact of their love triangle altogether. Is the answer longer seasons to accommodate for the growing central cast, or cutting back miscellaneous storylines? Will they abandon the importance of a primary relationship, and instead lean into the storylines of all of their supporting characters? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, there are two episodes left of Season 2. Maybe, when it comes to Belly and the Fisher boys, the writers will still turn things around.
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