It’s a summer that’s all about love! On June 17, Amazon Prime released their TV series adaptation of the popular young adult romance novel The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, and we are eating it up! This novel follows two families who have been going to the same summer beach house for years. The main character, Belly, played by Lola Tung, comes back this summer having undergone a “glow-up” in the last year, and let’s just say things get really complicated. From relationship drama, chosen families, friendships, and, of course, love (specifically a love triangle), this show checks off some of the best tropes you could have in a great summer romance.
The success of The Summer I Turned Pretty is something that might not come as a surprise considering what was presented to anticipating audiences. However, it is time for us to deep dive into what exactly makes this show an absolute hit. The novel originally came out in 2009. So, why are audiences both new and old absolutely loving the series? From the stellar casting and soundtrack choices to Jenny Han’s involvement in the making of the series, we have detailed exactly why this book-to-series adaptation just works.
Creating a new series or movie is a lot of work. Bringing already established characters to life on a big screen is a tall order, so the success of a show relies heavily on casting. Did The Summer I Turned Pretty miss the mark? Absolutely not! Starting off strong, although the main character Belly is originally white in the books, the choice to make her character Asian-American brought the show to a new level. The core characters: Belly, Conrad, played by Christopher Briney, and Jeremiah, played by Gavin Casalegno, make up a cast any show can only dream of. The chemistry between them, with the dynamics of the supporting cast including Sean Kaufman, Rachel Blanchard, and Jackie Chung, absolutely make this show something to remember. On and off-screen, it is obvious that this cast vibe perfectly with each other, translating into a show that has audiences not only invested in the story and character but rooting for their happily ever afters.
The entertainment world is no stranger to the all-important book-to-screen adaptations that are without a doubt a hit-or-miss. The Summer I Turned Pretty has been a trending topic that audiences have been loving since its premiere, and it would be a dishonor for us not to give credit to the author of the source material, Jenny Han. When the creator of the work is this involved, it is like her vision gets to come alive the way she intended it. Han, if you did not know already, was the author of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, which was also adapted into a very successful movie trilogy on Netflix. Since the show was announced, Han’s involvement in the production, from posting some fun behind the scenes content with the cast to her constant presence on the set, demonstrates how having the maker of the series as an integral part of its creation practically ensured the success of this show. Even now after the show has been available for audiences, Han is still feeding us on social media, showing the relationships within the cast on and off the big screen.
The first book and the following sequels came out between 2009 and 2011, and have an already-established fanbase. As soon as the show was announced, it became obvious that it would be set to bring in new and past generations of fans. People love nostalgia. In fact, many of us thrive with it and now that fans of the books when they initially came out are older, the demographic of fans reaches past the Young Adult label of the show. Also, Han’s success with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (both the book and the movies) created a momentum that set this show up for success. And if all that was not enough, the cast also took advantage of the book’s appeal, recording audiobooks for the entire three-book series that make this bridge between book and show that much easier to invest in for fans.
A movie or TV show’s soundtrack can make or break it. A modern day TV show is nothing without a good soundtrack and The Summer I Turned Pretty has this in the bag. Right off the bat, it became obvious that the soundtrack is very “with the times,” utilizing a vast selection of catchy, recent, and popular music. Music choice can make a scene and for this show, the perfect summer soundtrack consists of “The Way I Loved You” by Taylor Swift, “Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo, and even “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” by Caroline Polachek. Having the perfect song to accompany a scene burns it into our minds long after the show ends. This really helps the popularity of a show especially on social media. From fan edits to reposting the best scenes online, the soundtrack is the perfect reflection of our feelings and the emotions of the characters. We’d like to see you try holding back your tears when the first chords of “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers starts playing.
The show is fittingly called The Summer I Turned Pretty, so it is only fitting that it came out right in the full swing of summer. To say that this is marketing genius is an understatement. If you’re going to have a show or movie take place during the summer, why not release it during the summer? We are all longing for a summer like the one Belly has at Cousins Beach, and if any of us are lucky enough to relate to her summer full of love, then it is fit for that too! Timing is everything in the entertainment industry and the beach town, vacation home aesthetic of The Summer I Turned Pretty made it perfect for audiences looking to find a summer escape.