‘Cruel Summer’ Review: Freeform’s Deliciously Deceptive Series Is Fit for Teens and Adults

‘Cruel Summer’ Review: Freeform’s Deliciously Deceptive Series Is Fit for Teens and Adults
Cruel Summer” piques curiosity on several levels. On the surface, Freeform’s marketing has been intense, with trailers and commercials giving just enough intrigue to entice fans — many of whom may not already be regular viewers of the network formerly known as ABC Family, given its common associations with millennial or Disney viewers. But the cable channel’s more recent shows (like “Good Trouble” and “Grown-ish”) have developed extensive followings, and there’s no doubt “Cruel Summer” will attract those same audiences.

But there’s another component to “Cruel Summer” that it’s weaponizing, and that’s nostalgia — though not in the same way Disney+ shows and other streaming series are using it. The new drama isn’t recreating its time period to get fans to point at the screen and say, “I totally had that!” It’s using the halcyon days of the ’90s to say they were anything but — they weren’t glorious,
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