Erika Doss: The Highly Anticipated Season 2 of ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ Explores Grief, Romance, and New Beginnings

‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ Returns for Season 2, Dealing with Grief and Love

Prime Video’s popular teen drama, “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” has made its long-awaited return for Season 2. The first three episodes, released on July 13, reintroduce viewers to 16-year-old Belly Conklin (Lola Tung) as she spends her summers at a picturesque house in Cousins Beach with her family and friends. This season delves into Belly’s experience of grief for the first time, as she navigates a love triangle involving two brothers, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad Fisher (Chris Briney).

Based on the New York Times bestselling series by Jenny Han, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” premiered on Prime Video in 2022 and quickly claimed the top spot on the streaming service during its debut weekend. Han, the author of the books, is also one of the show’s co-showrunners, along with Gabrielle Stanton in Season 1 and Sarah Kucserka in Season 2. Aside from Tung, Casalegno, and Briney, the talented cast includes Sean Kaufman as Steven, Belly’s brother; Jackie Chung as Laurel, Belly’s mother; Rachel Blanchard as Susannah, Jeremiah and Conrad’s mother; and Rain Spencer as Taylor, Belly’s best friend.

Season 2 picks up about a year after Season 1, with the heartbreaking reveal that Susannah, Belly’s mother, has passed away from an aggressive form of cancer. This loss, combined with Belly’s recent breakup with Conrad, weighs heavily on her as she tries to navigate her way through grief. Flashbacks depict moments of tender connection between Belly and Conrad, including a memorable scene in Cousins Beach where they witness snowfall by the ocean. This particular scene was not included in the original books but was created by Han specifically for the TV adaptation.

In the second episode, viewers learn that Belly loses her virginity to Conrad by the fireplace in the Cousins Beach house following the snow scene. Han explains that she felt this moment was crucial, as the characters had known each other their entire lives and had experienced many firsts together. The scene was carefully choreographed and filmed with the assistance of an intimacy coordinator to ensure the actors’ comfort and safety.

Tung shares that filming the scene was a secure and professional environment, allowing her to bring the moment to life in a beautiful way. Both actors express the depth of emotion their characters feel for each other in that moment. Conrad, in particular, is portrayed as being terrified of ruining the connection he and Belly share.

The intimacy portrayed in this scene is intertwined with the grief and heartache Belly experiences following the breakup. As prom night approaches, Conrad becomes increasingly distant, leaving Belly without a partner for the event. Susannah’s funeral becomes the breaking point, as Belly confronts Conrad in a fit of anger. However, when Jeremiah informs Belly that Conrad has gone missing, she sees it as an opportunity to repair their strained relationship and possibly find healing.

Viewers can catch new episodes of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” on Prime Video every week through August 18. The show continues to explore themes of love, friendship, and grief as Belly’s journey unfolds in the idyllic setting of Cousins Beach.