Shortly after the debut season of Cruel Summer concluded, fans were thrilled to learn that Freeform had renewed the series for a second season, but The Hollywood Reporter confirmed today that series creator Bert V. Royal would not be returning for the sophomore season. While this is surely disappointing, what makes the situation more complicated is the fact that Royal had actually departed the project after the pilot had finished shooting, so while fans will be concerned about how his absence will be felt in the upcoming season, it sounds as though he had little involvement in bringing that first season to life.
The outlet didn't have any insight into the nature of the conflict, merely noting that Royal reportedly had a "clash" with the network, with neither Royal's representatives nor the network offering any comments on the matter. Royal was, however, credited as a writer on many episodes, including the Season 1 finale, yet it's unknown how much he was involved in the scripting process versus how he crafted the overall storyline.
From executive producer Jessica Biel (The Sinner), Cruel Summer is a psychological thriller that follows two young women: Kate Wallis, the popular girl with a charmed life who one day goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, the nerdy wannabe who is accused of being connected to Kate's disappearance. All signs point to Jeanette's guilt, but is Kate really who she seems to be? Set over three summers and told through shifting points of view, the series challenges perception and follows how one girl can go from being a sweet outlier to the most despised person in America.
"I think what has really resonated with audiences is that there's a very clear, strong mystery, but a mystery that's told from the point of view of two characters that people can really relate to," Freeform president Tara Duncan shared with Deadline following the renewal announcement. "That central conceit of 'is the grass always greener on the other side?' and that perspective of 'who do you believe Jeanette or Kate?' and that the story should shift depending on whose shoes you stand in, I just think is one that is really relatable for this audience. The idea of an unraveling mystery that's told week over week is one that the audience has obviously responded to."
Duncan added, "It's mystery coupled with a point of view that does feel very relevant to young adult audiences today, the issues that our characters are facing are the same issues that young people are dealing with in our current environment is also why it's struck a chord on many different levels."
Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes, Blake Lee, and Brooklyn Sudano starred in the debut season of the series.
It's unknown at this point if the new season will continue the events of the first season or explore an all-new storyline.
Stay tuned for details on the future of Cruel Summer.
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