Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for “The Summer I Turned Pretty.”
Based on Jenny Han’s young adult romance novel, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is the first of a three-part television series, which premiered on Amazon Prime on June 17, 2022. Executively produced by Han, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” tells the story of Belly reuniting with her family friends, Jeremiah and Conrad, on her annual beach trip where she unexpectedly ends up in a love triangle.
Isabel “Belly” Conklin (Lola Tung), her brother Steven (Sean Kaufman) and her mom Laurel (Jackie Chung) spend every summer with Laurel’s best friend, Susannah Fisher (Rachel Blanchard) and her two sons, Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno), in a town called Cousins Beach. However, this summer Belly planned to make the most out of her time with Conrad, who has been her crush since she was 12 years old. Belly, who used to stay at home with their mothers, decides to join the boys in their summer activities: beach bonfires, house parties, volleyball tournaments and debutante balls.
Along the way, Belly begins to date Cameron (David Iacono), a boy she met at the beach. Yet, her feelings for the Fisher brothers grow stronger. Conrad continuously comes up with reasons they shouldn’t be together and she begins to entertain the idea of a relationship with Jeremiah. However, blinded by love for Conrad her whole life, Belly realizes Conrad is the one she wants to be with. Following the series finale featuring the plot twist of Susannah’s terminal cancer, Belly and Conrad reveal their real feelings for one another with a swoon-worthy kiss.
This aesthetically-pleasing summer show couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, allowing the audience to binge the episodes while enjoying their summer vacation. Viewers of the show and longtime fans of the novel have numerous debates online about which brother Belly should have ended up with, keeping the show relevant. Even famous entertainer Lizzo took to TikTok with her own review of the show.
However, despite Han being a co-showrunner on the series, fans noticed notable differences between the novel and its visual portrayal.
For starters, the show expanded to include the point of view of all of the characters, not just Belly. Multiple perspectives allow more entertainment for the audience. Widening the show’s lens could also make for long-term potential with future seasons by having more character arcs to explore.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the debutante ball was not a part of the book’s storyline, but was a significant plot point in the show. The ball was their way of “marking that moment of between, like, girlhood and adulthood…[and] being seen as an adult,” Han said in an interview with The Wrap.
Lastly, a shocking difference was Jeremiah’s sexual fluidity. In the book, he was described as a flirtatious person but only dated girls. In the show, the viewers witness Jeremiah cozying up to both girls and guys. This could be to recognize sexually fluid teenagers in 2022, adding another relatable element for the kids watching.
Although there are a few more differences between the book and its television adaptation, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” was still successful in telling a fun, slightly awkward, yet entertaining summer story with a new season already on the horizon.
Harleen Thandi is a Sports Editor for the 2022-23 school year. She can be reached at email@example.com