"The Summer I Turned Pretty" is a TV series based off Jenny Han's novel of the same name. (Amazon Prime Video)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: TV series ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ breaks stereotypes of romantic dramas

This Prime Video series offers a perfect amount of realism with the “that girl” factor.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/j0liewang/" target="_self">Jolie Wang</a>

Jolie Wang

November 2, 2022
A summer filled with sudden attention from boys, a debutante ball, family, secrets, fireworks, drive-in movies, parties, and volleyball tournaments, all by the beach — it sounds pretty captivating, doesn’t it? Well, that was the life of Isabel “Belly” Conklin in the new, hit Amazon Prime Video TV Show, “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” The TV series is an adaptation of author Jenny Han‘s novel of the same title. 

The show follows Belly, the average 16-year-old girl, throughout her summer vacation in Cousins, Mass. She has gone there every summer with her mom and older brother Steven, because her mom’s best friend Susanna owns a beach house there. But here’s the catch, Susanna has two boys who are both relatively around the same age as Belly. 

Belly’s relationships with the two brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah, have always been the same. Conrad, the oldest, is the one who is always looking out for her, but is also the one that Belly has been crushing on forever. Jeremiah, the younger brother, and her boy-best friend, is the one who always makes sure that Belly is having fun. This summer though, seems to be a little different for Belly. 

She’s growing up, everyone’s growing old, and Belly just can’t accept it. 

As a lover of 2000s teenage Rom-Coms, I was excited for Jenny Han’s new TV show “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” I greatly enjoyed her trilogy that preceded this show, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” and To All the Boys: Always and Forever.”

So much of the content targeted towards teenage girls my age are oftentimes stereotypical and predictable. That’s what I like about the author, Jenny Han. The stories she writes do not always turn out the way you think they’ll turn out!

What I liked about the show:

There are so many things I love about this show, but the biggest thing for me was the casting. As an aspiring actress in the film industry, I don’t often see Asian Americans playing title roles (unless in a film specifically about Asian experiences). Seeing multiple Asian actors and actresses portraying roles that don’t explicitly relate to their ethnicity or regurgitate stereotypes was really inspiring.

There was a perfect amount of realism, but also the “that girl” factor. For those of you that don’t know, “that girl” is a popular phrase now that describes the girl who has the perfect, only-in-movies lifestyle. She wakes up early and journals, eats only healthy foods, works out every day, and is successful in many ways. This trend can also be a little toxic. In many ways, Belly led the life of a “that girl,” but also had some realistic aspects.

What I wish could have been done differently:

I wish I could have seen more of Belly and her best friend, Taylor’s friendship. I understand that the show is centered around Belly being away from home and experiencing relationships with boys, but it felt like a piece of Belly’s non-summer, “normal” life was missing.

Taylor did pay Belly a visit towards the end of the series, but they got into an argument over drama with girls at Cousins, Massachusetts. I just want to know more about their friendship. Maybe a flashback scene to years prior?

The ultimate question, Conrad or Jeremiah?

Many fans of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” are constantly debating which brother Belly should end up with. 

Conrad’s the bad boy, the brother Belly has liked since she was 12.

Pros: 

  1. None. Just kidding, kind of a protector for Belly.

Cons: 

  1. Has a girlfriend-not-a-girlfriend. 
  2. Can be rude to Belly.
  3. Flaky person.
  4. Doesn’t let people who love him into his life.
  5. A liar.

Jeremiah’s the life of the party, Belly’s boy-best friend.

Pros:

  1. He’s sweet. He cares about Belly and her emotions (unlike Conrad!).
  2. Caring and loving to all.

Cons:

  1. Is almost too much like a brother to Belly. He likes to spy on her during dates.
  2. A little too mischievous.

Obviously, I’m #TeamJeremiah, but you’ll have to watch the show to decide for yourself.

From Marshall student to Marshall coach and teacher

From Marshall student to Marshall coach and teacher

Joseph Manahan loves John Marshall High School. He graduated in 1995 and has never left. Well, he did for a few years when he went to college, but in 2002, he came back to teach English, geometry, algebra, and coach the Girls' JV & Varsity volleyball teams. He...