Set over three summers in 1990s Texas, the Jessica Biel-produced series gripped viewers with its central mystery about a young girl who goes missing, Kate (Olivia Holt), and her would-be high school friend, Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia), who may or may not have been involved. Hidden under the surface of that has been in depth and nuanced explorations of grooming, victim blaming, societal pressures on young women, and a surprisingly empathetic look at being a teen girl.
The idea of exploring these themes in more depth is an incredibly exciting prospect. However, considering the series has so far focused on one central mystery that appears to be coming to a close, the biggest question is whether the show will continue the story of Jeanette and Kate that has had fans hooked for the last ten weeks or go for a The Sinner-style anthology (Biel is also a producer on The Sinner).
But showrunner Tia Napolitano says the creative team is still in the very early days with no concrete plans as yet. "We've only just begun to even think about season 2, so I don't know anything about what it's going to be other than an impactful mystery with some great character studies," she told Refinery29 ahead of the season 1 finale.
That means the format question is also still up in the air. While the future focus of the show is currently "unclear," per Napolitano, fans can at least rest easy knowing that Cruel Summer will be returning for season 2. The enigmatic announcement will likely inspire just as much theorizing about the upcoming season's themes and focus, especially if fans' detailed theories around who Annabelle is are any indication.
For now, all eyes turn to the Cruel Summer season 1 finale, which will finally reveal the truth of what happened between Kate and Jeanette and, according to Napolitano, offer up a little much-needed joy.