‘Cruel Summer’ Overhaul: New Cast, Showrunner Set for Season 2 (Exclusive)

Freeform’s breakout hit Cruel Summer is being completely overhauled for season two.

The series, which began production today on season two, will feature a totally different storyline for its upcoming sophomore season that comes complete with a new cast and showrunner.

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Sadie Stanley (The Goldbergs), newcomer Eloise Payet, Griffin Gluck (Locke & Key), KaDee Strickland (Private Practice), Lisa Yamada (All American), Sean Blakemore (Greenleaf) and Paul Adelstein (True Story) will star in season two. The latter, who reunites with his former Private Practice wife and son in Strickland and Gluck, is set for a recurring role.

Elle Triedman (Freeform’s Siren, Guilt) has been named showrunner for season two and replaces Tia Napolitano in the role. Napolitano, who boarded Cruel Summer after the pilot when creator Bert V. Royal departed after a creative flap with a Freeform exec, remains credited as an exec producer and will instead focus on her family. “After getting season two of Cruel Summer up and running, Tia Napolitano has stepped back from the show, and as such, will no longer be serving as showrunner,” a rep for the show tells THR. “Tia has been instrumental in the success of the show and will remain an executive producer.”

Sources say season one stars Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes, Blake Lee and Brooklyn Sudano knew when they signed on that there was a possibility that Cruel Summer could go the anthology route in season two. The cast was informed of the decision to reset the series with a new story as soon as a formal decision was made some time after the season one finale.

Cruel Summer, whose first season took place over three summers in the ’90s and explored a shift in dynamics of popularity, marked the first scripted series to debut under Tara Duncan’s regime at Freeform. She replaced Ascheim as president of Freeform in 2020. The series ranks as Freeform’s most-watched scripted original series in history and also performs well on Hulu, where all of the basic cable network’s programming is available to stream the next day.

Set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest, season two of the anthology follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, the season twists and turns as it tracks the early friendship between Megan, Isabella and Megan’s best friend Luke, the love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward. Season two returns at a date to be determined this year.

Entertainment One is the studio on Cruel Summer. Royal created the series and walked away from it after the pilot (turning his back also on back-end profit participation). Triedman exec produces alongside Bill Purple, Napolitano, Jessica Biel and her Iron Ocean Productions’ Michelle Purple.

Here are additional details on the cast and their corresponding roles:

Sadie Stanley stars as Megan Landry, a computer coder and honor student from a blue-collar family. Once Megan meets Isabella, she begins to live in the moment and embrace her true self. When events take a tragic turn, her long held dreams are dashed and she is left wondering who she can trust. Stanley (Dead to Me) is repped by Gersh and Goodman Genow.

Payet portrays the alluring and enigmatic Isabella, the daughter of foreign diplomats, who is spending a year as an exchange student with the Landry family. She quickly shakes up life in this small town, but her charm can’t hide the truth about her past, or the real reason she came to live with the Landrys, forever. She’s repped by Innovative Artists, Brave Artists Management and BMEG.

Gluck plays Luke Chambers, Megan’s lifelong best friend from a prominent family. Over time Luke finds himself at a crossroads as he tries to establish his own place in the world separate from the expectations of his powerful father, Steve (Adelstein). Gluck is with Paradigm and Hansen Jacobson.

Strickland (Shut Eye) plays Debbie, Megan’s hardworking single mom who thinks hosting Isabella will open Megan’s eyes to a bigger world than their small town. She’s repped by Gersh, Anonymous Content and Meyer & Downs.

Yamada is set as Parker, a popular musician who becomes more cynical as the world takes a dark turn around her. She is with the Park Noack Agency.

Blakemore (General Hospital) will play Sheriff Myer, an old-fashioned law-and-order type, under pressure to solve the first major crime in Chatham. He’s with SDB Partners.

Showrunner Triedman counts Power Book IV: Force, The Shannara Chronicles, Finding Carter and Devious Maids among her credits. She’s with Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Yorn Levine.

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