Should I Watch It? Cruel Summer, the twisty new series about a teen who disappears.

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Everybody has wanted to be somebody else.

In Cruel Summer, Amazon Prime Video's new psychological thriller series, Jeanette Turner wants to be Kate Wallis. 

Or she at least wants to be like Kate Wallis. Beautiful Kate has her life together. Her family are wealthy and her boyfriend Jamie is dreamy as hell.

There's no way Jeanette can be Kate though.  

Watch: The trailer for Cruel Summer. Post continues below video.

Video via Prime Video.

Kate is the most popular girl in their town, and nerdy little Jeanette, with her messy hair and braces, is... nothing like her. Or is she?

In episode one, Jeanette longingly watches Kate - hanging out with her friends, kissing her boyfriend - from a short distance at their local mall, mustering up the courage to talk to her and is surprised to learn Kate knows her name.

Image: Amazon Prime Video. 


Then, the episode skips a year ahead, and Jeanette effectively is Kate, in all but name.

How did she get here? Where is Kate? Is her life as perfect as Jeanette thought? And what would happen if she ever came back?

Well, that's what we're here to find out.

Below, we unpack what Amazon Prime Video's Cruel Summer is about and deliver our verdict on whether you should watch it.

What's it about?

Cruel Summer follows the lives of popular girl Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and awkward but sweet Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) over the course of three different summers in their small Texas town.

The twisty, turn-y narrative device of the series means events play out on the same day during three consecutive years - 1993, 1994 and 1995 - and each episode alternates between Jeanette and Kate's perspective.

In 1993, Jeanette is a shy and sweet nerd with a close-knit group of friends and a solid family unit. Kate is the beautiful popular girl with a hot boyfriend, Jamie (Froy Gutierrez). Until Kate goes missing.

Image: Amazon Prime Video. 

By the summer of 94, Jeanette has undergone a major transformation and has taken over the mantle left by Kate. She has abandoned her old pals to hang out with Kate's friends, and is now dating Jamie.

Her life is perfect, she thinks, until one day Kate is found. Alive.

One year later, Jeanette sees herself as the most hated person in America, blamed for Kate's disappearance. Her parents have divorced. Now a depressed recluse with nothing to lose, she goes after Kate and her picture-perfect family - publically.


Come for the...

Juicy storyline about a missing teen whose entire life is replicated by a rival and the immense 90s nostalgia (someone in production really liked The Cranberries!)

Stay for the...

Plot twists and the incredibly complicated characters, played spectacularly by Holt and Aurelia.

What shows will it remind you of?

Pretty Little Liars for its teen mystery, Big Little Lies for its twists and turns, and 13 Reasons Why for its use of flashbacks and perspective to build the entire complicated sequence of events.

How many episodes are there and how long are they?

Image: Amazon Prime Video. 

There are 10 episodes with a running time of about 45 minutes each. 

Will there be a second season?


You can enjoy Cruel Summer safe in the knowledge that there will be more where that came from, because the series was picked up for a second season in June. 

So, should you watch it?

Heck yeah.

Cruel Summer is a compelling watch with plenty of mystery.

The disjointed timeline is surprisingly easy to follow, thanks to the very obvious changes in Kate and Jeanette's appearances as well as the camera hues.

Image: Amazon Prime Video. 


The concept is intriguing enough to get you invested early on, but the performances of Holt and Aurelia will keep you hooked as the storyline moves forward. Kate and Jeanette become almost unrecognisable to the teens we initially meet, but the actors' portrayals help this along in an incredibly believable way.

And if Cruel Summer's storyline seems predictable in the beginning, I assure you to keep going. 

We make judgements on who to believe and who to blame early on, but as the series goes on the fractured narrative shows us the story in a new light. You'll sense your hypotheses and sympathies shift again and again, right till the end.

Cruel Summer arrives on Amazon Prime Video Australia on Friday, August 6.

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Feature Image: Amazon Prime Video.

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