REVIEW: ‘Surviving Summer’ is a Strong Start to the Season

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Surving Summer - But Why Tho

Surviving Summer is a Netflix Original YA series created by and . Summer Torres (Sky Katz) is a problem child with a fraught relationship with her mother. So when she’s kicked out of school, again, she’s sent to go live in a small town on Australia’s surfing coast with her mother’s childhood best friend (Natalie Bond) for six weeks until she returns from a work assignment.

Bhodi (Savannah La Rain), Marlon (Joao Marinho), Poppi (Lilliana Bowrey), and Ari (Kai Lewins), with whom Summer is living, are part of a surfing team together. But Ari was badly injured last year and the relationship between the four best friends hasn’t been the same since none of them came to visit in the hospital. Marlon and Bhodi are dating now and Poppi’s mom died in the time that’s passed and Summer’s sudden arrival in their lives threatens to take bad to worse.

Don’t let the assumptions you might make about a snobby kid from New York and a bunch of surfers get in your head though. Release them all and let Surviving Summer wash you away in its YA goodness. The plot is thin at the end of the day. The show’s arc mostly revolves around the four’s quests to make it onto the State Team. But the characters in this show and their relationships are really golden. Over ten half-hour episodes, each one of them gets just as much opportunity to shine, grow, and hurt as each other while being lifted up by and lifting up the secondary characters around them too like their siblings and parents.

While the episodes do get a little bit repetitive in their structure, nearly every one pertains to another surfing competition as the interpersonal drama continues to evolve. But that drama does make every episode worth it completely. The length of the show is just right for ensuring that the emotional stakes are secured and the journey every character goes on feels deserved and sticks their landings. I’m honestly impressed with how many different journies the show does take its characters one over so many episodes while remaining effective through each of them. Crushes, beefs, jealousy, and every other standard emotion of a 15-year-old are present in spades.

The only real downer when it came to characters was the parents. It’s totally fine that the central point of Summer’s character is her mother’s bad parenting. But it consistently bugs me when bad parenting is being depicted as normal, healthy, and effective—in children’s television especially. Ari’s parents are perfectly swell and they’re loving and kind and sometimes even cool and fun. But they’re full of bad parenting moments. Particularly when it comes to how they choose to punish Ari, how they speak to him, and how they don’t even try to understand what he’s going through. They automatically turn to punishing him for misgivings, revoking his permission to compete in surfing competitions in particular. Considering that he is trying to become a professional athlete, that’s a totally inappropriate consequence in the first place, let alone the way it just normalizes non-communication between parents and children. When things finally do resolve, they don’t resolve because their parents change their perspective or their parenting methods, it changes because Ari more or less appeases them. It’s a disappointing recurring factor in most episodes of the show that I found unbecoming of otherwise nice people.

The surfing itself is quite strong though. I mean, I have no experience or knowledge with which to judge whether the actors are actually skilled competitive surfers or not, but they’re clearly all competent surfers appearing to perform their own surfing. It’s all very impressively captured visually and makes the world of surfing very appealing. The music, the commentary, and the vibes as a whole are just very strong with this series. The teenage actors are all competent and especially shine in their most emotionally charged moments. Some of their more passive conversations can feel a tad stilted sometimes, but there are some really funny line deliveries throughout, and on a whole, I’d be glad to watch any of them in something again.

Surviving Summer is a strong start to the season with its great YA character development. The plot is somewhat of an afterthought in viewing at times and there are a few eye-rolling elements, but as a whole, very fun.

Surviving Summer is streaming now on Netflix.


Surviving Summer
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Surviving Summer is a strong start to the season with its great YA character development. The plot is somewhat of an afterthought in viewing at times and there are a few eye-rolling elements, but as a whole, very fun.