With the recent release of season 2 of the popular Amazon Prime series “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” I decided to rank the characters by how unbearable they are. At first I set out to write a review of the season, but couldn’t bear praising the atrocious series; so I’m doing this instead. The rankings are for the end of Season 2, so heads up, there will be spoilers ahead. The show is truly in a league of its own (in a bad way), and I felt obligated to honor it by writing this article.
9. Cam (David Iacono)
Cam’s fine. A recurring character for most of the series, he started out as a love interest for protagonist Belly, before fading into the fringes of the show. He returned halfway through the recent season, however, and quickly struck up a romance with Skye. Even if they make a better couple than most on the show, their connection was extremely rushed and felt forced. Unlike all the other characters, Cam seems like a pretty chill guy with terrible taste in friends.
8. Skye (Elsie Fisher)
Elsie Fisher, why did you do this? One of the most talented young actors in the field (her turn on “Barry” was exceptional), she decided to go on “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” and now I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to take her seriously after watching this garbage. Fisher plays Skye, the daughter of the scheming aunt Julia.
The writers of the show don’t fully seem to know what kind of character to be, so they settle for a sort of shy, nerdy persona that is never really cemented, as Skye swings back and forth from timidness to moments of defiance. Aside from the occasional quippy asides and token sarcastic jabs, Skye is mostly tolerable. Their character arc as they grow confidence is satisfying, even if the writers struggle to make it a gradual change, instead opting for jerky moments of development that are thrown in seemingly at random.
7. Taylor (Rain Spencer)
Taylor is Belly’s best friend, who stayed in the background for the majority of season 1 but became a series regular in the recent season. For the most part, she seems like a pretty decent person. She truly seems to care about her friends, and doles out plentiful advice and wisdom.
However, this is a romance show, and on that front, her track record is a little iffy. Her primary storyline is the choice between her thoroughly unpleasant boyfriend Milo, and Steven, one of our main characters. Obviously, she ends up picking Steven, which everyone in the world could have seen coming. That makes me wonder why we had to sit through eight hours of their burgeoning love. Within those eight hours, however, she lets the two boys come to blows over her affection, literally, as they fight at a climactic house party. I’ve never been in this situation, but I assume the thing to do is tell them to stop fighting and work the conflict out diplomatically. Taylor just sort of stands there. She’s a good-ish person, but she needs to sort out her feelings and not lead anyone on.
6. Laurel (Jackie Chung)
Laurel is the mother of main character Belly and her brother Steven, as well as an emerging author. As a person, she seems like she would be fun to hang out with – and that’s precisely the issue. For a character whose only purpose is to be a mom, she seems terrible at it. Her children openly drink, go to parties, and engage in all manners of romantic escapades right in front of her, and all she does is chuckle and roll her eyes at them. No! Don’t do that! She so rarely looks out for their wellbeing that when she comes to Belly’s aid late in the season it feels out of character. You’re a single parent! Helping your kids be safe and happy shouldn’t feel out of character! Also, she slaps Belly, which is not good to say the least.
Her occasional subplots almost always consist of book events where she encounters the enticing novelist Cleveland Castillo. Personally, I enjoy her on-again-off-again romantic flings with Cleveland, as they give us the chance to watch a character whose real name is Cleveland Castillo. They never comment on or acknowledge that his name is Cleveland Castillo, which feels bizarre, seeing as I’ve now devoted several sentences to the name Cleveland Castillo. Regardless of her companion’s excellent name (which is Cleveland Castillo, in case you forgot), Laurel seems like a perfectly decent person, but an absolutely woeful mother.
5. Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno)
Jeremiah is without a doubt the most likable person within the primary love triangle (composed of him, his brother Conrad, and Belly). Like all of them, he’s prone to whininess and brooding, and is often selfish. However, he did take care of his sick mother while in high school until her death, so you have to cut him some slack for that. Among the main trio, he also happens to be the most unremarkable.
The primary reason I’m rating him so low is his physical appearance. That’s a bad sentence to say in any context, but hear me out: his tan is so, so heavy that I can’t focus on anything else. I may be colorblind but I swear he looks green in so many scenes. The tan is so artificial, and so unpleasant that you truly can’t take him seriously. He didn’t have it last season and looked perfectly fine, but the tan is so in-your-face and aggressive that I can’t not consider it here. Plus, his eyes are an icy blue, which makes him look even more freakish. He’s pretty bearable usually, but that tan is just hideous.
4. Julia (Kyra Sedgwick)
Julia is the villain of the season, trying to sell the summer house that our cast of intrepid characters so cherishes. She’s also Susannah (Jeremiah’s mom who had cancer)’s estranged sister. They attempt to give Julia a little depth by discussing her relationship with her parents, but it falls flat, particularly because the writers are so proud of finally giving a character some dimension that they repeatedly state why and how she has depth (there are far too many lines that go something like, “It’s not Susannah’s fault that your parents were terrible to you, she just chose not to see it”). She’s the villain, but who really cares? This show isn’t about boring old adults! It’s about single teens making out and being melodramatic on beaches! Next!
3. Belly (Lola Tung)
The main character who we’re supposed to root for, Belly has very few redeeming qualities. She seems capable of kindness, which is always a good quality for a person to have. She seems very thoughtful, I suppose, as we can glean from her near-constant voiceover narration. Aside from those, she’s pretty frustrating. The whole show is centered around her bouncing back and forth between the arms of two brothers, whose hearts she breaks on a regular basis in favor of the other brother. She is absolutely abhorrent at Susannah’s funeral, where she yells at Conrad (they had recently broken up) and seemingly burns her bridges with him…at his mom’s funeral. The reason why they broke up? He was suffering from anxiety, because his mom was dying. Belly doesn’t really care though, because her teenage romance is more important than life and death, literally. Everything for Belly is about herself, which makes extremely frustrating viewing material.
2. Conrad (Christopher Briney)
Yes, he is going through trauma. Yes, his mom died. But in every aspect of his life, he is so irritatingly broody that it’s near-impossible to watch. He complains about everything, mopes around in a montage set to Taylor Swift about twice an episode, and is exceedingly stubborn and selfish in his views. To be this annoyingly gloomy in a cast full of annoyingly gloomy people is a testament to his character. When Belly clearly tells him she wants to be just friends and starts dating Jeremiah, Conrad refuses to accept it and terrorizes the young lovers on a long car ride, taunting his brother and launching insults rapidly with the subtlety of an elephant running through a wall. I have nothing good to say about Conrad. He is a boring, dour, emotionally-confused man, and I despise every second he appears on screen.
- Steven (Sean Kaufman)
Steven is, and I truly mean this, the dumbest character I have ever seen. He is constantly creating problems for himself and everyone around him by acting before he thinks. I am truly at a loss for words to describe how stupid this man is. Picture this: you’re flirting with a girl who you really like, but she has a boyfriend. She is currently on FaceTime with said boyfriend. So the natural solution is, of course, grab her phone from her and taunt her boyfriend. Let’s break this down. Does this action help the boyfriend? No, it makes him angry and confused as to who this mystery man is. Does this action help the girl? No, it makes her boyfriend upset at her and makes her upset at you. Does this action help you? Absolutely not. For all parties involved, this is a lose-lose-lose. Now get this: Steven did that. I could come up with a very classy, wordy insult, but Steven doesn’t deserve it: he is a dumb, stupid idiot, and the most unbearable character in “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” which is a very, very high bar.