Cruel Summer

Critics and Fans Divided Over Season 2 of ‘Cruel Summer’

With each new season, Freeform’s anthology series Cruel Summer follows a new cast of characters confronting traumatic events over multiple timelines. The series evaluates how these events impact the primary protagonists’ lives and interweave to build an edge-of-your-seat web of secrets, lies, and hidden agendas. 

The first season earned a largely positive critical response, boasting a 94% critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. Though critics agreed that the story was a bit overstuffed, the juicy twists and turns, as well as the strong sociocultural commentary kept the show cruising along in a binge-worthy fashion. 

Everyday audiences agreed but weren’t quite as impressed as the critics (in a surprising turn of events). Some felt that the characters were a bit annoying, while the plot was too convoluted and a tad far-fetched. However, season two has turned the tables, with critics doing a bit more bashing than everyday viewers. 

What are critics saying about season 2 of ‘Cruel Summer’? 

According to critics, season 2 of Cruel Summer pales in comparison to its predecessor, earning a mere 67% critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes (just squeaking by the 60% rotten threshold). 

According to critics, the season is forgettable and does not build upon the framework laid out in the premiere season. Rather, many argue it’s a mere soapy suspense story that lacks the thematic punch and compelling character development inherent to season one. According to Erick Massato of Collider, it also forfeits the same degree of “nail-biting twists” that viewers have come to expect following the premiere season. Maybe in trying to avoid convolution, it lost a bit of its unforeseeable shock factor.

Cruel Summer’s saving grace in its premiere season was the unexpected turn of events. Despite a bit of complexity, the premiere season’s degree of unpredictability kept it fresh — and reminiscent of YA hits like Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, and 13 Reasons Why.  Yet, there are a handful of critics arguing that it’s just as captivating as its predecessor — pulling viewers into its web of deceit — endlessly forcing them to question who they can trust. 

What are fans saying about season 2 of ‘Cruel Summer’? 

Fans seem to be largely in support of the second season of Cruel Summer, with many noting that it’s a satisfying addition to the teen mystery landscape. One fan of the previous season commented, “Very good show like my favorite show is back good writing like always.” Others shared similar sentiments, noting that the new season is “really good.”

And, like any captivating mystery, viewers have already taken to Reddit to begin sharing all their twisty-turny theories for season two. Though the show has several episodes left to go, it’s reportedly spoon-feeding viewers just enough to chew on between episodes (to theorize for days on end). What is Luke’s dad up to? Why does the main character (like in season one) go from cutesy and innocent to moody and brooding? 

Some fans argue that season one flowed through the timelines more coherently and better established the primary characters. However, season two’s narrative is arguably a bit more straightforward, and (according to some) even more suspenseful. New episodes of Cruel Summer air at 10 pm EST on Freeform. You can also stream episodes the next day on Hulu.

About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.