The Australian show Surviving Summer is a wildcard entry for teen shows on OTT platforms. Not only has it got a fabulous cast that people can fall in love with, as is common with this kind of thing, but it also boasts some fantastic shots of the sea and the sport of surfing. It’s not like Surviving Summer brings anything new to the table in terms of teen drama and rebellious “not like other girls” characters, but it’s the surfing that really ties this show together to make it smooth sailing.
Season 1 was cute; we got introduced to some obnoxious teens who were trying really hard to play grown-ups. Summer, our titular protagonist, was dealing with her mommy issues and ended up making a mess of things when she couldn’t handle the love from her new friends and distanced herself from them. By the end of it, she was able to suck it up and mature, as were the rest of them. Summer had to leave and go back to New York to mend things with her mother. Now, a year has passed, and she plans on returning as a surprise and entering the state team competitions.
Surviving Summer incorporates all the good stuff about teen shows and combines it with the stunning and serene waters of Shorehaven. I wish I were on my way to surf those waves with those teens right now. The show is predictable; there’s the same old jealous girlfriend villain trope, but all is forgiven because of its commentary on the surfing world. The competitive world of surfing has its own issues, and the show tackles some of these with poise and precision, enough not to make it preachy or like an activist’s wet dream. There are a lot of new developments with the characters, and the drama has been dialed up a notch this season.
Summer Torres is just as loyal and a little less “work first, talk later,” making her more likable and understandable. Golden boy Ari is just as naive and maybe even more gullible, but, as we know, he’s taken Summer’s advice seriously and gone to therapy, so that’s a win for everyone. Poppy is just as competitive, but she’s also letting herself go in many ways, trying not to falter under the pressure, but this leads to some unexpected results. Bodhi’s character steps above Poppy’s this season, and she’s got some new developments up her sleeve. The new trio joining the team are Wren, Elo, and Brex, the siblings from Queensland who’ve moved due to unavoidable circumstances. They bring a lot of baggage with them, leading to some big issues within the team. The question posed is: Will Summer be able to sort it all out, or will she be looked upon as the troublemaker all over again?
What I really appreciate about this show is how teenage-like all the characters are, and it definitely doesn’t come across like this show was written by old white men who’ve been cooped up in their bedrooms for 30 years and decided to write female characters who speak like they’re 50-year-old geezers. Although the show is quite trope-y, it doesn’t feel overdone or tedious in any way.
Surviving Summer also calls out the red flags for what they are, and there aren’t any weird adults or random grown-up matters seeping into the seams here. It’s great to see the competitive spirit in these teens, who like to be outside and move under the sultry sun. Summer’s journey this season is one of self-acceptance and truly becoming confident in herself. While Summer pretends to be overconfident in front of everybody, she’s got her own insecurities that come out occasionally. I’m reminded of ABC Family’s Make It Or Break It watching this show but minus all the unnecessary drama and a take from Down Under. In season 1, I described Summer as an Emily in Paris type character but less obnoxious. I think Summer Torres, being a teenager, has a much bigger character arc than Emily has had in three whole seasons.
The last teen drama I really enjoyed recently was actually another Australian one titled Heartbreak High. Maybe it’s the laid-back attitude that draws me to these shows that don’t feel like an attack of overstimulation. It comes as a surprise to me as well, but I think Surviving Summer has upgraded from season 1. Just as the character has moved on, the show has more to offer. It’s a shame that we don’t get to see much of Manu, their coach and Poppy’s brother, this season, though. The one big qualm I have for the series, though, is that because it’s been shortened to 8 episodes, a lot of characters have to be covered in the short time period. This leaves some plot lines feeling rushed, while others feel a little bit unnecessary. Still, it’s lighthearted fun, so I think it works just fine, and there are no expectations for deep introspection or intervention.
Surviving Summer Season 2 is a classic underdog story that talks about teamwork and surviving friendships at their worst. The wonderful cast returns with some new developments, and there’s a lot to love about this crew. Another highlight is Ari’s sister, Honey. The young girl is not just smarter than everyone else on the show, but her dialogue delivery is actually comedic, almost making it feel as if she’s part of us as the audience watching over the others. I think, in comparison to all the nasty things out there right now calling themselves teen drama, we need to pull out a page or two from the Surviving Summer handbook. This show is relaxing, and because they’re 30-minute episodes, you can finish it up in half a day. I’d say if you liked the first season, give this one a go for sure because you’ll be hooked (I sure was). I’d give season 2 of Surviving Summer 3 out of 5 stars. Keep it on in the background, even if just to enjoy the blue serenity.