First Look at Cruel Summer Season 2!

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First Look at Cruel Summer Season 2!
First Look at Cruel Summer Season 2!

Freeform’s “Cruel Summer” returns as an anthology with a new mystery and cast when its highly anticipated season 2 premieres this summer, featuring a new cast and a new mystery: take a first look!

The second season will feature a brand new cast and a new showrunner. Elle Triedman has been named showrunner for season two and replaces Tia Napolitano in the role. “After getting season two of Cruel Summer up and running, Tia Napolitano has stepped back from the show, and as such, will no longer be serving as showrunner,” a rep for the show tells THR. “Tia has been instrumental in the success of the show and will remain an executive producer.”

Cruel Summer season 2: plot

Season 2 will be focused on three summers over 1999, 2000, and 2001.
Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, the next chapter of “Cruel Summer” follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, the season twists and turns as it tracks the early friendship between Megan, Isabella and Megan’s best friend Luke, the love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward.

201 “Welcome to Chatham”
In Summer 1999, small-town computer genius Megan resents the arrival of outgoing and mysterious foreign exchange student Isabella. Little does she know how her life will change by Summer 2000.

202 “Ride or Die”
In Summer 1999, Isabella grows closer to Luke while struggling to connect with Megan. In Winter 1999, Isabella searches for justice following the disastrous Christmas party.

Promotional pictures

EPs Explain Why They Went Anthology Route, Tease Easter Egg Connection to Season 1

Following the breakout hit’s first season, which starred Chiara Aurelia and Olivia Holt, it was unclear if the show would continue with their fan-fave characters, Jeanette and Kate, at the center of a new mystery, or if the cast would return to play new personas. Ultimately, the creative team opted to go the full-fledged anthology route, with a new ensemble and a fresh mystery for the second season.

“We took into big consideration [that] people really loved the cast in Season 1 and were connected to them,” Michelle Purple, who exec-produces Cruel Summer alongside Jessica Biel via their Iron Ocean Productions, tells TVLine. “We actually opened up a room and discussed, ‘What does it look like to continue both these girls’ stories or one of these girl’s stories?’”

Added Biel at the Television Critics Assoc. winter press tour in January 2023: “We struggled with where to go from there because it really felt like [Season 1] really had stuck the landing, and it was a complete story.”

After exploring the idea of expanding on Season 1, “unfortunately, we didn’t find that it would have the legs it would have if we just did the anthology,” Purple explains. “And we really stepped back and we were able to look at the show — the three timelines, the dual perspectives, the mystery, the week-to-week who do you believe? — and [decided] that was something we could hold on to as the core of what Cruel Summer is and find a new story, two new characters to follow.”

Season 2 introduces viewers to Megan (played by The Goldbergs‘ Sadie Stanley) and Isabella (Little Fires Everywhere‘s Lexi Underwood). Two high schoolers in the Pacific Northwest who are thrown together when the latter comes to live with Megan and her family as an exchange student, of sorts.

Although the girls’ relationship gets off to a prickly start, they soon become close friends. But a love triangle forms with Megan’s best friend Luke (Locke & Key‘s Griffin Glock), threatening to derail Megan and Isabella’s bond, while a shocking mystery completely changes their lives.

Whereas Jeanette and Kate were at odds and separated in their individual storylines, “Season 2’s friendship is much deeper and much more connected between the two girls. Biel shares with TVLine. “We really wanted to explore…loyalty and what happens when two young women are extremely close and then something drives a wedge between them.”

The second season takes place over three timelines around Y2K — July 1999, December 1999 and July 2000 — when curiosity about what was going to happen when the clock hit midnight was at an all-time high. As such, technology plays “a big role” for the characters, Biel says, while the uncertainty of Y2K propels the narrative.

“The idea of anything could happen, and the whole idea that the world could end, so maybe that’s the night where you might do things that you never ordinarily would have done, I think that really energized this season,” new showrunner Elle Triedman shared at the TCA winter press tour.

Plus, the time period is not that far removed from Jeanette and Kate’s story, which spanned 1993-1995, so fans should keep their eyes peeled for an Easter egg connection.

“We’re playing in the same world in the sense of it’s just a few years later. So there’s a tie to Season 1, but we’re not going to tell you [what it is]! You guys have to find it!” Purple says with a laugh.

How Cruel Summer reinvented itself after 1 season

Cruel Summer completely reinvents itself for season 2, moving the action to an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest to follow the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship and the love triangle that forms between Megan (Sadie Stanley), Isabella (Lexi Underwood), and Megan’s best friend Luke (Griffin Gluck). All chronicled in three different timelines surrounding Y2K and a central mystery connecting them all.

Gluck explains that executive producers Jessica Biel, Bill and Michelle Purple, and Tia Napolitano. As well as showrunner Elle Triedman all “know exactly what they’re doing” when it comes to introducing a brand new mystery in season 2.

“We talked to them about the reason why they did an anthology instead of continuing [the same story in] season 2, and in season 1, the story had been told,” he tells EW. “And that was the best version of that story. The best option was to go anthology, it opens it up for a new story every season. You’re going to fall in love just as you did with season 1. The story’s just as good, the mystery’s just as awesome, the characters are just as great.”

When mysterious foreign exchange student Isabella comes to live with Megan’s family for their senior year, the two girls form a friendship that changes their lives forever as a mysterious death rocks the town.

The identity of the victim and the circumstances leading to their death will keep viewers guessing throughout the entire season.

“We have all of the same exciting pieces and the same formula as season 1 — we have the three different timelines, two girls going through something really huge together — but what’s special about our season is that the girls really are going through it together,” Stanley tells EW. “And honestly, the stakes are higher. We’re dealing with a death here. And not just a death, but everything that led to it. Every episode, you’re going to be suspicious of somebody different and you’re never going to know what’s going to happen next.”

“If you liked going along on the ride, coming up with different theories, and just the whole whodunnit situation that was occurring in season 1, then you’re going to like going on the ride with season 2 as well,” adds Underwood.

The first season follows Kate Wallis, a popular girl with a charmed life who one day goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, the nerdy wannabe accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance, but season 2’s main characters are a lot more connected. Megan, Isabella, and Luke become a close trio … which means the drama between them gets even messier.

“Megan Landry is a pretty normal teenage girl, but she did have to grow up fast because she does have a single mom,” Stanley says. “She has big plans: She wants to go to college, and she wants to get a scholarship because her family can’t afford to send her to college. So she’s a straight-A student, a Goody Two-Shoes, and doesn’t really get out much or have the normal kid teenage experience. That’s where Isabella comes in for Megan.”

When Isabella arrives to live with Megan for their senior year, she shakes up everything for the formerly sheltered teen.

“This is Isabella’s first time being in the States after almost 18 years of constantly moving around her entire life,” Underwood says. “But when she gets to Chatham, she’s really excited because she views it as this fresh start. A new opportunity to be able to live out her all-American high school dreams that she’s always hoped and craved for.”

Thanks to Isabella, Megan starts to come out of her shell and experience the fun side of being a teenager — much to her BFF Luke’s delight.

“Isabella gets her to loosen up and have those classic teenage experiences of partying, kissing a boy for the first time, getting a boyfriend, all that kind of stuff,” Stanley says. “We also see her relationship with Luke grow and how that changes her as a person too.”

“Luke is not as simple as he might seem,” Gluck says. “He is a cool, popular, rich kid, who comes from a very powerful, affluent family. He doesn’t seem to have many problems, but he’s got a lot of issues that he buries deep, deep below the surface.”

Of course, these teens aren’t just dealing with normal teenage angst. This is Cruel Summer, after all. Everything changes when a mysterious death rocks Chatham, and Megan, Isabella, and Luke are all connected to it.

“This terrible, horrible thing happens, and her whole world is shaken up and shattered, and she has to figure out how to pick up the pieces,” Stanley says. “The big mystery of this season is a murder. Somebody dies and it’s very tragic, but they can’t figure out how it happened, or who did it. It’s a whodunnit story, and it’s a lot more complicated than you might think it is. It’s not as simple as: Who did it?”

Gluck jumps in to add, “I’ll say this: It’s less about who did it and more about how did it happen, and how did we get to that point.”

“How did things get so messed up so quickly, and what are Megan, Isabella, and Luke going to do to fix it?” Stanley finishes.

‘Cruel Summer’ Stars Preview Season 2’s Dark Y2K Murder Mystery

Want a gripping TV mystery? Start in a small town that’s got big problems. Take Chatham, a sleepy Pacific Northwest beach hamlet, where you’ll find troubled teens, shady parents, bitter betrayals — and a body washing ashore. It’s the perfect setting for the twisty new installment of Cruel Summer, Freeform’s hit anthology series.

The first season, which aired in 2021, recounted a 1990s tale of an abducted Texas high schooler (Olivia Holt) and the classmate (Chiara Aurelia) who may have been complicit in the crime. That season set up the unique conceit of Cruel Summer: All the action ping-pongs between three different timelines, so you get a clearer picture of how the evolving mystery unfolds.

Season 1 took place over three consecutive summers; for Season 2, new showrunner Elle Triedman is working in a far more compressed space.

Armed with a fresh cast and a case of young love gone awry, Triedman’s installment tracks a trio of periods within a single calendar year at the end of the last millennium.

“You can see reflected within each episode how the actions in one timeline have repercussions in the others,” Triedman says. And if you think Y2K was nuts, strap in. “Chatham is a crazy, crazy place,” she says with a laugh. Here’s a peek at a year in the life (and death) of Summer’s hot spot.

Summer 1999

Worldly, globe-trotting high school transfer student Isabella LaRue (Lexi Underwood, Little Fires Everywhere) arrives to spend senior year living with the blue-collar Landry family: aspiring computer coder Megan (Sadie Stanley of The Goldbergs), younger sister Lily (Jenna Lamb) and single mom Debbie (KaDee Strickland).

“I’m the catalyst for a lot of drama that happens,” teases Underwood, whose character instantly clocks that Megan is none too thrilled to have such a privileged new roomie. “Isabella’s ambitious — she knows what she wants for this year and she is not stopping until she gets it. And I think we see that especially in this timeline.”

Shot in bright tones, the early portion of the story hints at dark times ahead, especially once Isabella sets off sparks with Megan’s closest pal, Luke (Locke & Key’s Griffin Gluck). “They have been best friends since they were kids, so, you know…three’s a crowd!” notes Stanley. “When Isabella comes in, it gets messy.”

Winter 1999

In this timeline, six months after their rough start, the girls are now ride-or-die BFFs, Megan and Luke are dating — as are Megan’s mom and Luke’s dad (Paul Adelstein) — and the world is prepping for the end of the century. While the expected chaos of Y2K never strikes, the 1999 holiday season is far from merry and bright. “Winter has sort of a colder hue,” notes Triedman of this timeline’s visual tone. “Things are getting real.” Not to mention scandalous. As Chatham preps to celebrate Christmas, a lurid turn of events ruins the spirit of the season and leads to some serious fallout, including putting one girl’s college future at risk.

Since the show often filmed multiple timelines in a single day, all of these twists, plus the question of how Megan and Isabella first became close and a major development to come, had the members of the cast themselves looking for clues to the mystery they were shooting based on tidbits from the script. “You’d start your day off like, ‘Ah! So good to see everyone!’ and then halfway through your day you’re [crying],” jokes Gluck. “All three of us came up with just about every theory you could come up with.”

Sadie Stanley Digs Into Y2K Murder Mystery in ‘Cruel Summer’ Season 2

In season two of Freeform’s murder-mystery anthology hit Cruel Summer, Megan Landry (Sadie Stanley) has big plans. It’s a sentiment that Stanley understands well.

“[Megan’s] kind of had to grow up pretty fast, so I can relate to aspects of that,” says Stanley, 21, who moved to Los Angeles at 18 to pursue acting. In the show, Megan is a computer coder and straight-A student, raised by a single mom in a small town. “She’s going through some really rough things. Her whole life and all of her plans for her life are really falling apart.”

While season one was set in the ’90s, season two (premiering June 5) is set amid the backdrop of Y2K in a waterfront Pacific Northwest town.

The story revolves around the friendship between Megan and new girl in town Isabella (Lexi Underwood), the love triangle that comes between them and the tragic mystery that changes their lives forever.

“Acting, for me, is so therapeutic,” Stanley says. “Something about it really fuels me like nothing else. I don’t understand it. I have no idea why, but I love it.”

At 13 years old, she recalls, she asked her parents how to become an actor, a dream that seemed out of the question to a family in South Carolina with no connections to the industry.

“Every 13-year-old wants to be on Disney Channel, you know?” Stanley says. “I just wouldn’t let it go. I started doing my own research and figuring it out on my own.” A talent agency here, an acting convention there led to Stanley’s move to L.A. over three years ago. In 2019, her Disney Channel aspirations came true when she landed a job as the live-action Kim Possible, a TV movie role that set Stanley’s career in motion.

Like the first season, Cruel Summer‘s sophomore run takes place across three different timelines, hopping from one to the next throughout each episode.

“I had to be really vigilant and quick on my feet because we were filming all three timelines every single day,” Stanley says. The third timeline sees her nearly unrecognizable, with piercings and dark, slicked-back hair, along with a new attitude hardened by trauma. Of course, that was Stanley’s favorite part of the role.

“I got to really challenge myself. I love doing things that are darker, that have a bit more grit and depth to them. I want to do more of that,” says the actress, who also appeared this spring in Ray Romano’s directorial debut, Somewhere in Queens.

Stanley sees the film as a highlight of her budding career.

“Definitely a huge moment for me,” she says of filming the family comedy-drama opposite stars Romano and Laurie Metcalf. “Working with [Metcalf] is like a master class in acting. She is so tapped in, so honest the whole way through.”

Up next? “I would love to do a horror movie,” says Stanley, lighting up. “Bloody, dirty, screaming, crying — I haven’t gotten to do that. That’s one that I want to check off my actor bucket list. Like an A24 horror movie, anything A24.”

Release date

Season 2 will premiere Monday, June 5 at 9/8c with two back-to-back episodes, before moving to its regular 10 pm timeslot the following week on Freeform.

Cast

Sadie Stanley (The Goldbergs), newcomer Eloise Payet, Griffin Gluck (Locke & Key), KaDee Strickland (Private Practice), Lisa Yamada (All American), Sean Blakemore (Greenleaf) and Paul Adelstein (True Story) will star in season two. The latter, who reunites with his former Private Practice wife and son in Strickland and Gluck, is set for a recurring role.

CRUEL SUMMER – “Cruel “Summer”, the highest-rated series in Freeform history, will return for its second season in Summer 2023. The anthology series features a brand new cast and mystery. Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, the next chapter of “Cruel Summer” follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, the season twists and turns as it tracks the early friendship between Megan, Isabella and Megan’s best friend Luke, the love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward. (Freeform/Frank Ockenfels) LEXI UNDERWOOD, SADIE STANLEY, GRIFFIN GLUCK, LISA YAMADA, KADEE STRICKLAND & SEAN BLAKEMORE

Characters

Sadie Stanley will star as Megan Landry, a computer coder and honor student from a blue-collar family. Once Megan meets Isabella, she begins to live in the moment and embrace her true self. When events take a tragic turn, her long-held dreams are dashed, and she is left wondering who she can trust.

Eloise Payet portrays the alluring and enigmatic Isabella, the daughter of foreign diplomats, who is spending a year as an exchange student with the Landry family. She quickly shakes up life in this small town. But her charm can’t hide the truth about her past or the real reason she came to live with the Landrys forever.

Griffin Gluck plays Luke Chambers, Megan’s lifelong best friend from a prominent family. Over time, Luke finds himself at a crossroads as he tries to establish his own place in the world, separate from the expectations of his powerful father.

Minor characters

KaDee Strickland stars as Debbie, Megan’s hardworking single mom who thinks hosting Isabella will open Megan’s eyes to a bigger world than their small town. Lisa Yamada is Parker, a popular musician who becomes more cynical as the world takes a dark turn around her. Sean Blakemore will play Sheriff Myer, an old-fashioned law-and-order type, under pressure to solve the first major crime in Chatham. Paul Adelstein will recur as Steve Chambers, Luke’s high-profile dad, whose influence in town is far-reaching.

Recast

Little Fires Everywhere breakout Lexi Underwood has been tapped to replace newcomer Eloise Payet in one of the leading roles for the second season. Sources tell THR that the decision was made to redevelop and recast the role following last week’s table read.

Underwood will take over the role of Isabella, the daughter of foreign diplomats, who is spending a year as an exchange student with the Landry family.

Nile Bullock, Jenna Lamb and Braeden De La Garza have joined the cast of Freeform’s Cruel Summer

Bullock will recur as Jeff, a filmmaker who is more comfortable experiencing life from behind the camera lens.  He has long nursed a crush on Megan and finally gets the opportunity to make his feelings clear.

Lamb will play Lily, Megan’s impressionable and adoring younger sister who is dazzled by the arrival of Isabella.  As she enters her teenage years, her more rebellious side emerges.

De La Garza takes on Brent, Luke’s arrogant and entitled older brother. The favorite son in their prominent family, he enjoys exerting his power over the other kids and Luke.

Cast Portraits

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Source: SpoilerTV/THR

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