‘Surviving Summer’ Season 1 Recap: Everything To Know Before Watching Season 2 On Netflix

The Australian teen drama Surviving Summer is returning to our screens on the 15th of September. The show is much more about the magic of surfing than melodrama, and that’s what makes it a perfectly bingeable show about some easy-going kids Down Under just having the time of their lives. That’s not to say that the show doesn’t have its share of drama; Summer is a tough shell to crack, and she’s almost as annoying as Emily, but the saving grace is that she’s a lost puppy rather than a grown-up who messes up at work. If you’re looking for a summer show that is serene in appearance and you’re fond of Australian accents, then this is the show for you, my friend. Summer’s story begins when she’s shipped off from the Big Apple to Straya. The show consists of 10 short episodes of about 25 minutes that are mostly filled with the beautiful blue ocean and a lot of surfing. Let’s quickly get into everything that went down in Surviving Summer.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In Season 1?

This coming-of-age story follows Summer, a rebellious teen from Brooklyn who finds herself in muddy waters when her mother has to run off to the Middle East for a photo-op. As it is, Summer and her mother don’t get along very well, and she feels neglected all the time. Summer’s also been expelled from two elite schools, leaving her mom worried. Given she has no choice, Summer gets shipped off to sunny Australia for six weeks while her mother finishes her important and dangerous assignment. Immediately, Summer makes plans to move back because it’s a small town, and she has to live with a family of four strangers. Abbie, Thommo, Ari, and Honey are her new family in Australia, and she wants to return home to the big city rather than stay in the small surfing town of Shorehaven. Summer’s mom and Abbie were friends when they were younger, so they agreed to do her this big favor. Summer uses the credit card given to her (probably for emergencies) to get herself a ticket back to New York within 24 hours of being in Shorehaven (ugh, the jet lag mess, though). The family treats her really wonderfully, and Ari isn’t around because he’s preparing to make a surfing comeback after being terribly injured the previous year.


Summer’s personality is extremely outgoing, and she has a big mouth that often gets her into trouble. She meets Ari and insults his family without knowing who he is. Thanks to her personality, she makes friends in seconds and gets invited to a party. But there’s a small catch: the girls who’ve invited her want her to bring Ari along because he’s been aloof with them lately (accident and all that). Rebellious Summer wants to look cool in front of everyone at the party, but before she can do something irresponsible with her skateboard, Thommo catches both teens sneaking out of the house. Still, it’s Ari who gets in trouble, even though Summer was the one who almost got hurt by doing something dangerous. Of course, Ari’s parents are still worried about him because of the massive injury and problems caused by the accident he was in before. The next day, on the beach, Summer meets a girl from a different team. For some reason, this girl runs over Summer’s skateboard with her car. Bodhie and Poppie, Summer’s new acquaintances, tell her that she should stay away from the opponent, but Summer still wants her revenge. Summer hitches a ride with Prawnie, one of Poppy’s brothers, but when they’re just about to leave for the airport, she finds Ari in a daze. She realizes he’s having a panic attack and tries to get him to feel better. The gang’s about to take part in a “comp” (a much nicer way of saying competition, for sure).

The Shorehaven Gang

Summer ends up staying back in Shorehaven because the card notified her mom, and during Ari’s panic attack, Prawnie ends up leaving because he was in a rush anyway. Now, Summer’s new friends include Ari, Poppy, Bodhi, Marlon (another outsider), and possibly Honey because she trains her to use a skateboard. Manu is Poppy’s other brother, and he coaches the whole team for the competitions. Summer is always in over her head; she’s argumentative and selfish, and she also thinks she knows better than everyone, so quite quickly, she makes a mess with her friends. Poppy’s mother has recently passed away, leaving her heartbroken and sensitive. The pressure of being the daughter of a renowned surfer is also on her, and she has to be the best. On the other hand, Bodhi is taking the social media influencer route to get sponsors to push her athletic career, too. Bodhi is always supportive of her bestie, Poppy.


The boys are much less friendly and more dramatic. Marlon was around during Ari’s accident. They both have a lot of things unsaid, which leaves them making constipated expressions at each other and trying to throw punches during heats. At the same time, there’s a love triangle because Ari liked Bodhi before the accident, but now Bodhi is with Marlon, even though Marlon knew before that Ari liked her (how scandalous!). Because it’s Summer’s fault that Ari is grounded, she pretends to take up surfing so he can compete again. Even there, she thinks she can handle it herself, and Poppy saves her from a gnarly disaster. Eventually, they make it to a regional competition, and the I’m not like-other-girls Summer becomes an I love my girlies kind of person. She actually bonds with Bodhi and Poppy on individual levels before getting everyone in trouble again before a match. During this time, though, she teaches the gang how to play a game that allows you to uncover each other’s dirty secrets. This makes Marlon uncomfortable, and he ends up falling off the roof they’re on. He gets away with a minor ankle injury, but he can still surf.

The competition goes well for all of them, and Ari and Marlon are finally on speaking terms after verbally beating each other up. Marlon was being immature, and Ari was being sensitive (rightfully so).


During the next round, Bodhi gets offered a place to model for a surfing brand—her big break. Marlon decides to tag along, though, and ends up making Bodhi look unprofessional. Bodhi is already going through a lot at home because she has to help her dad with work, and she almost misses the heat until Summer talks some sense into her by overstepping, of course. Eventually, Bodhi gets special treatment because she gets to go in the sponsored heats, leaving Poppy a little bit annoyed. The grass is always greener on the side for these two because Bodhi thinks Poppy is much better than her and will never see her as an equal, as will nobody else, and Poppy thinks that Bodhi gets everything served to her on a platter, but because she doesn’t believe in herself, she doesn’t see how lucky she is. Bodhi ends up dumping Marlon because it was Summer who cared enough to come and get her, not him.

During the Subtropix 360, a high-ticket surfing competition, Ari and Bodhi get through. They do really well for first-timers, but Bodhi ends up feeling the weight of the pressure. At the same time, Summer sees that Ari is getting more anxious by the day and wants him to talk to an adult. Of course, he doesn’t listen. Ari tells Manu something vague, expecting him to solve the mess for him because all he wants to do is get back in the competition. Because Manu is giving Ari so much attention, Marlon ends up feeling insecure and tries out for another team. When the rest find out, they feel extremely betrayed, and Manu even says that if he doesn’t make it on the other team, he won’t have a team at all.

Summer And Surfing

All this time, Summer has also been learning how to surf. Poppy makes her a sub for a competition, and because Marlon bails after everyone gives him heat for betraying them, Summer ends up bringing home the win.

A week before summer’s about to leave, everything gets really messed up. Her mom asks Abbie if Summer can stay for a few months because her assignment was extended. After all the trouble that Summer has put Ari in, he eventually falters and tells Summer that she has to stay longer, even though she wasn’t supposed to know. A furious Summer says some harsh things to everyone and tries to make the same mistake that Ari did. Ari had jumped a cliff and gotten sucked in by a wave after catching it. Marlon had been traumatized, thinking it was his fault because he didn’t jump in with him, but Ari never blamed him. Now, Marlon wants to try to do it again to get over that moment. But, in the middle of all of this, Summer ends up there too, because she’s mad at everyone, and she needs to feel the risk on her skin again. They end up jumping in after her. Thommo comes to save them thanks to Honey’s quick thinking. Ari gets grounded again, and this time, it’s the biggest mess of them all, and he’s banned from the comp finals. Summer is unwanted there now as well.


Does Summer Stay Back In Australia?

Summer initially devises a plan to assist Ari in sneaking out, but eventually she decides to join him. In frustration, Ari utters hurtful words to Summer, expressing his exhaustion from dealing with her problems. Since her arrival at their home, Ari feels that things have been chaotic. Still, she’s not a bad person, so she sneaks him onto a ferry in a caravan. They share a moment in there before they end up falling out of their secret hideout and running out of the van. They meet Prawnie, and he drives them just in time to get to the competition. Marlon makes the right move and switches heats with Ari, even though he’s on the other team now. Manu shows Marlon his support and tells him to do his best. Marlon is told by his team to play off-the-books and sabotage Ari’s heat so that their other teammate can place first. While Marlon does this initially, he ends up just having fun with Ari and comes in second after Ari. The team gets furious with him, and in a physical altercation, Marlon ends up punching a guy in the face. In the meantime, Bodhi ends up hurting herself just after finishing a near-perfect heat and coming in first.

Ari apologizes to Summer after his big win, and they finally kiss just before they’re interrupted by their moms. Margot, Summer’s mom, is even more furious after finding out that Summer snuck out with Ari. She decides to take her back immediately rather than wait a few days. Ari and Summer try to support each other by talking to each other’s mom. That plan fails miserably because Margot and Abbie end up having a huge fight. Ari and Summer have a huge fight again because of this, and she’s ready to leave.


Summer finally ends up opening up to her mother and telling her how she really feels. Shockingly, her mother says she always felt like Summer didn’t want her around. With both of them realizing their mistakes, Summer is all set to leave and make amends. In the competitions, Poppy takes the win, and Bodhi comes in second, making everyone tremendously happy (including us viewers). At the very last moment, Ari finds out that Summer left a letter for the family and Margot, and she left for the airport. In the final moments, before he’s about to go into the water, Ari decides not to do the finals and tells his parents about his anxiety, like Summer told him to. They rush to the airport, and at the end of the season, Ari tells Summer that he needs her there to heal, but Summer says she needs to be with her mom. She tells him not to miss her too much and leaves. Ari gets help and goes back to surfing with his buddies (yes, even Marlon is back). Back in the US, Summer has finally found her calling for surfing, and she’s doing her own thing out there.

Summer’s whole issue was that she was always lost and alone, so she pushed people further away to avoid pain. Meeting the gang, who are so focused on surfing and know exactly what they want for themselves, made her realize that’s what she was missing.


Season 2 Expectations

It’s unfortunate how much a trailer can show you, but season 2 of Surviving Summer promises a lot more drama in the mix. Summer is back with a vengeance for the comps, and she’s bringing the heat with her. It looks like Ari didn’t miss her enough and found someone else in the year that has passed. This is going to be intense, and some hearts are going to be broken, but we can’t wait.

Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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