Stills and synopses of The Summer I Turned Pretty make it seem like typical teenage fluff. It isn't. Sure, it starts off cheesy and predictable, but it quickly blossoms into something rich and earnest and far more significant than the sum of its parts. The love triangle is merely a jumping-off point to better understand these flawed characters and the people around them. Outside of Belly's coming-of-age journey, there is her brother who encounters a rude awakening on race and class, and their mother who, fresh from a divorce, attempts to establish an identity of her own. Everyone has their own thing going on in this series, so it's easy to feel invested in their fleshed-out failures and triumphs.
It also feels authentically young; the music sounds like it was curated by an actual teenager, while the performances are raw and believable, not stilted and forced as it often is with teen series. The Summer I Turned Pretty is familiar, but comfortingly so. Watch this if you're yearning to re-live the magical, heartbreaking feeling of being young and in love for the first time.
Actor: Alfredo Narciso, Gavin Casalegno, Jackie Chung, Minnie Mills, Rachel Blanchard, Sean Kaufman, Summer Madison