CRUEL SUMMER on Freeform and Hulu is a new ’90s Teen Thriller Series. Produced by Jessica Biel, you should definitely check this out. It’s much darker and deeper than you might think. Read our Cruel Summer series review here!

CRUEL SUMMER on Freeform and Hulu is a new thriller series that plays out in the ’90s and has teen main characters. If that sounds like something you’d rather skip because of the younger characters, then please, think again.

This one is worth your time! It’s dark, mysterious, and utterly fascinating.

Continue reading our Cruel Summer series review below.

The same day, a different year

Much of Cruel Summer is all about a date. More specifically, each episode focuses on a particular date that’s introduced at the beginning of the episode. In episode 1, we see what happens on June 21th in 1993, 1994, and 1995. And what a difference a year makes! This date also happens to be Jeanette Turner’s birthday.

Jeanette is one of the main characters in this series and she’s played by Chiara Aurelia (Gerald’s Game).  While Jeanette is a nerdy girl, the popular girl, Kate Wallis, has everything Jeanette wants. Kate is played by Olivia Holt (Cloak & Dagger). The difference between Jeanette and Kate is almost stereotypical, but it works.

We also meet Jeanette’s best friends Vince (Allius Barnes) and Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) along with Kate’s boyfriend, Jamie Henson (Froy Gutierrez). Obviously, there are many other characters, but these are the key players in the drama that unfolds over the course of several years in the 1990s.

Cruel Summer: Season 1 – Review

Change of perspective

In episode 2, the date is June 26th but the years covered are the same. Also, in episode 2, we follow Kate Wallis instead. To say that I love this storytelling style would be an understatement. I absolutely adore this method and it reminded me of The Sinner and This Is Us while being entirely its own thing at the same time.

The fact that the main character switches from one episode to the next is also very reminiscent of the HBO series Euphoria. It enables us [the audience] to see the events from more angles while also getting a much better understanding of the characters.

Nothing is ever black and white, but it does come across that way in many series. With the storytelling style in Cruel Summer, it’s all about the grey nuances. After all, that’s exactly what makes up life.

Watch Cruel Summer on Freeform and Hulu

The series is produced by Jessica Biel, who also produced the brilliant The Sinner series. She starred in the first season and has since stayed on as producer. In every episode, we experience the events from one person’s perspective and always focused on one date in the different years.

It’s scary as all hell but also very realistic. Both when dealing with teenagers and with life-shattering events.

Cruel Summer is so much darker and deeper than I expected and I have great hopes for the entire season. Episodes air on Freeform on Tuesdays and are released the following day on Hulu.

Cruel Summer premiered with a special two-hour event on Tuesday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET on Freeform. It will also be out on Hulu from April 21, 2021.


Stars: Chiara Aurelia, Olivia Holt, Andrea Anders, Benjamin J. Cain Jr., Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Barrett Carnahan, Blake Lee, Sarah Drew, Neyla Cantu


A small Texas town when a beautiful popular teen, Kate, is abducted and, seemingly unrelated, a girl, Jeanette, goes from being a sweet, awkward outlier to the most popular girl in town and, by ’95, the most despised person in America.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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