“The Summer I Turned Pretty” Is The Perfect Summer Romance For Comfort Watching

Belly Conklin spends her summer on the beach trying to figure out which of her two friends she’s meant to be with


Amazon Prime Video

Lola Tung stars in the new television show “The Summer Turned Pretty,” which was released on June 17.

Quinn Rudnick, Managing Editor

When I sat down to watch “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” a new TV show adapted from Jenny Han’s book, I was expecting the show to be jam-packed with cliches and corny romance. But the show surprised me by ending up being one of the best I’ve seen. 

The show took a lot of inspiration from the ever-popular theme of a summer romance, but twisted the story and added a love triangle to brighten up the plot.

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is the story of Belly Conklin (Lola Tung) and her adventures as she has to decide between two brothers, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad Fisher (Christopher Briney). Belly has been vacationing on the beach at the Fisher household since she was a child, and her close friendship with each of the brothers only complicates things more. 

Throughout the show, Belly is torn between the brothers, and so was I. As I watched Belly bounce between Jeremiah and Conrad, I couldn’t decide who I wanted her to end up with, and even momentarily regretted her breaking up with Cam, (David Iacono) a funny guy with a passion for whale-watching that she’d met at a beach bonfire in the first episode. 

The development of the characters made it especially difficult for me to decide who I liked the best, especially that of Conrad. His history of being the cheerful and upbeat friend is in sharp contrast to his behavior that summer, which throws Belly off as she longs for the ‘old Conrad.’ 

I especially enjoyed the bond between Laurel Conklin (Jackie Chung) and her best friend Susanah Fisher (Rachel Blanchard.) Their friendship is messy, with Susanah battling cancer and Laurel wanting to make sure she’ll be okay, but it’s beautiful and sweet too. One of my favorite scenes was when the pair found their old hangout, a bar called the Fat Pelican, and danced, drank, and had fun without a worry in the world. It was one of those scenes that added to the upbeat feeling of the show. 

And of course, there are also the side plots that add to the overall appeal of the show.

In the first episode, Susanah tells Belly that she’s secured her a spot at the country club’s Debutante Ball. Belly, after being reluctant at first, decides to go along with Susanah’s plan and accepts the offer. With the addition of the ball to the plot, Belly is looped into a welcoming group of people that fast become some of her closest friends during the summer. 

In addition to the deb ball, Belly’s brother, Steven, (Sean Kaufman) gets into a relationship with one of her friends from the ball, Shayla (Minnie Mills.) Their relationship is cute and trusting, a nice bit of fluff added to the story, and I enjoyed watching their interactions throughout the show. 

One side-story that stood out to me was Conrad’s relationship with Cleveland Castillo, (Alfredo Narciso) a writer who recruits Conrad to help him learn how to sail for his upcoming novel. Cleveland was more like a father figure to him, especially after the obvious tension between Conrad and his father Adam (Tom Everett Scott). 

With any show, there are always scenes I will remember for a while afterwards, and “The Summer I Turned Pretty” definitely had some of those. 

My favorite scene by far was during the final episode, when Belly is at the deb ball and Jeremiah, who agreed to be her escort, has disappeared because he’s found out about his mom’s returning cancer. Distraught, Belly stands in the center of the dance floor while everyone around her begins to get ready. But at the moment it all seems hopeless, Conrad comes to her rescue. He performs the waltz with unmatched grace, curing all of Belly’s worries about a dance gone wrong.

The scene is soft and cute, and it’s the turning point in Belly’s love triangle, the moment that she finally realizes that Conrad really does care about her. 

That waltz reminded me of a quote from an earlier episode, when Susanah was talking about how much Belly values Conrad. 

“For Belly, Conrad is the sun. And when the sun comes out, the stars disappear,” Susanah said. 

To me, this line is what happened during the waltz. Conrad danced with Belly, and everything else disappeared because all she wanted to focus on was him. 

I don’t normally like the idea of a girl torn between two guys, it feels like a copy and paste plotline, but Han made the show special with impeccable scenes, emotion, and brilliant character development. 

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” combines everything someone could want in a comforting, sweet, summer romance series. A balance of fluff and reality, the show was perfect.