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How ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ reignites ship wars

Graphic by Ethan Nelson

Season two of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” a coming-of-age romance adapted from Jenny Han’s trilogy of the same name, recently hit Amazon Prime Video. Many viewers, including myself, can agree that this drama-packed season created a summer of yelling at a TV screen. 

This season progresses over the course of a single week, beginning after the death of Susannah Fisher (Rachel Blanchard) and the breakup between Isabel ‘Belly’ Conklin (Lola Tung) and Conrad Fisher (Christopher Briney). 

Despite the short timeline of the show, the pacing is expertly done. Flashbacks seamlessly fill the time gaps to give viewers an inside look into the character’s thoughts and feelings.

One of the show’s biggest conflicts surrounds Susannah’s sister, Julia’s (Kyra Sedgwick) decision to put the iconic summer beach house up for sale. This prompts Conrad to flee to Cousins Beach where he is followed by Belly and his younger brother Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo).

While the kids fight to save the beach house from Julia, romance is a major topic of discussion. For those who are not familiar with the show or novels, Belly is trapped in a love triangle with the two brothers and this season further dives into the fight for her love. 

The triangle has been compared to other iconic teen romances like Team Peeta versus Team Gale for the “Hunger Games” trilogy and Team Edward versus Team Jacob for the “Twilight” series. Just like with the early 2010s ship wars, people can’t help but get into arguments about which Fisher brother is the best match for Belly.

It is easy to get frustrated with the way Belly treats Conrad and Jeremiah, but there is solace to be found in the relationship between Belly’s brother Steven Conklin (Sean Kaufman) and her best friend Taylor Jewel (Rain Spencer), who together have been dubbed  “Staylor.”

I am a big fan of the trope of characters falling for their best friend’s brother and adore the display of Steven and Taylor’s complicated relationship. The relationship is so well done that their scenes are more enjoyable than some of those featuring Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah.

Ultimately, many viewers will find themselves screaming at their TVs when Belly chooses one brother over the other.

As far as performances, Tung is a standout actress for this season. She absolutely steals the show in her first television role. 

Tung’s most exceptional performance is during the scene in which Belly and Conrad get into a fight on the beach. The emotion that she brings to both the fight scene and the tearful call to her mother, Laurel (Jackie Chung) had me tearing up. 

Overall, this season is filled with the perfect amount of teenage angst and romance to prompt a binge-watch. It’s better to start sooner than later, to have the best chance of avoiding spoilers on social media. 

To be honest, I initially began this show as a hate-watch. After spending my entire summer anxiously waiting for new episodes every Thursday night, I now have to call myself a fan of the show and a proud member of Team Conrad. 

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