Kate and Jeanette in 'Cruel Summer'
Source: Freeform

Is Freeform's New Teen Drama 'Cruel Summer' Based on a True Story?

Toni Sutton - Author

May 26 2021, Published 12:36 a.m. ET

On April 20, 2021, Cruel Summer arrived on Freeform with a two-hour premiere special and has been a captivating watch for viewers ever since. The thriller series is set in the small town of Skylin, Texas, and in the six episodes that have aired so far, audiences have watched what exactly leads to Kate Wallis's (Olivia Holt) kidnapping and her return. Also, we've seen how Kate's return has affected her classmate Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia).

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Jeanette had blossomed into a popular social buttery from the dorky girl next door and ended up taking Kate's place in the "in-crowd" when she goes missing and dates Kate's boyfriend to boot. Cruel Summer's mystery centers on what happened when Kate went missing and the different stories that emerge when she reappears. As fans of the show know, each episode begins with a typed-up note that reads: "The events that are about to unfold take place on approximately June 21, 1993, 1994, and 1995."

Jeanette and Jamie in 'Cruel Summer'
Source: Freeform
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The month and date change to focus on critical moments in those three different summers. One question that the series poses is how Jeanette went from school nerd to the most popular girl in school and now the most hated girl in America. With the chilling tale that seems like it could happen to anyone and the rather cryptic episode introduction, is Cruel Summer based on a true story? Luckily for you, we have the answer!

Is 'Cruel Summer' based on a true story?

So, the short answer is no. Despite the storyline seeming entirely believable, Cruel Summer is not based on a true story — even the town the show is based in is fictional. The storyline is totally an original concept by the show's creator Bert V. Royal, who is best known for being behind the iconic comedy film Easy A. Even though the show isn't based on anyone's real life, when writing the screenplay for the series, Bert did say that he used real-world experiences.

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In an interview with Deadline, he discussed working with executive producer Jessica Biel and showrunner Tia Napolitano, who's worked on Shondaland dramas Scandal and Grey's Anatomy before Cruel Summer. He said, "We're really excited to tell this story that we hope will spark some interesting conversations about how our society can upend a person's life and send them to the hell of infamy before — and sometimes even, despite — the facts."

Kate in 'Cruel Summer'
Source: Freeform
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We well can all rest easy knowing that this really did not happen to anyone in real life.

Will there be a Season 2 of 'Cruel Summer'?

Another big mystery of Cruel Summer is if it's a limited series, or will it return for Season 2? It has never been advertised as a limited series or miniseries, which seems like there could be a possibility for the show to have more seasons in the future. In an interview, showrunner Tia Napolitano opened up to HollywoodLife about the show's finale.

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She shares, "The thing I love about our show in Season 1, and it’s a question that we get asked a lot, we tell you all the answers. We deliver everything. We lay it all out there. It’s not a show that’s going to be unsatisfying or stringing you along forever. All of these clues that we’re teeing up, we pay them all off.” So, if fans will get all of their questions answered in the end of Season 1, will there still be a story to tell for Season 2?

It will be interesting to see if there will be a Season 2 of Cruel Summer. The rest of the season is sure to be exciting as everything starts to unfold more and more leading up to the big finale.

Cruel Summer airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Freeform.

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