"It's completely open-ended at this point," showrunner Tia Napolitano says of whether the sophomore season will follow the same characters or introduce new ones.

By Sydney Bucksbaum
June 15, 2021 at 01:00 PM EDT
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Cruel Summer (TV Series)

The '90s aren't over yet -- at least at Freeform, which has renewed Cruel Summer for a second season.

Ahead of the twisty thriller's season 1 finale, EW has learned that Cruel Summer will return for season 2. But showrunner Tia Napolitano says with a laugh that it "really was not" always the plan to do multiple seasons, which is why they "left it all on the field" in the season 1 finale. "You're never guaranteed a season 2," Napolitano says. "So we held hands and decided we have to make season 1 be able to stand alone if that was all it was going to be. We had to answer all the questions and we did -- well, I hope. So yeah, onwards!"

As for what fans can expect from season 2, Napolitano says it's "totally up in the air" for now whether they'll continue to follow the stories of Kate (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) or introduce a new story and new characters.

CRUEL SUMMER
Jason Douglas, Olivia Holt, and Andrea Anders in 'Cruel Summer'
| Credit: Freeform/Bill Matlock

"We're in early days," she says. "So other than we know we're going to deliver a super-twisty mystery, we know we're going to live with some interesting characters and their psychology and talk about some important stuff like we did with grooming in season 1. Other than that, it's completely open-ended at this point."

The first season of Cruel Summer has followed Kate Wallis, a popular girl with a charmed life who one day goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, the nerdy wannabe accused of being connected to Kate's disappearance. Set over three summers in the '90s and told through shifting points of view, the series challenges perception and follows how someone can go from being a sweet outlier to the most despised person in America. Tuesday's season finale, "Hostile Witness" (airing at 10 p.m. ET/PT), unfolds as Kate and Jeanette's worlds finally collide when the court date arrives, forcing the two young women to answer the question on everyone's mind -- but the answer comes with a price that not everyone can pay.

"Renewing Cruel Summer for a season 2 was an easy decision," Freeform president Tara Duncan said in a statement. "It's the biggest series debut in Freeform's history, and the audience response has been overwhelming. [Executive producers] Jessica [Biel], Michelle [Purple], and Tia did a phenomenal job pushing the boundaries in terms of genre and storytelling, and it's incredible to see how it's hit the cultural zeitgeist in such a significant way. I'm excited to see where they take the series next." 

Biel and Purple said in a joint statement, "To be picked up for a second season is a dream and we have so many ideas for where we can take this next. We are excited to get to work with our brilliant team of creatives on this project in addition to our partners at Freeform and eOne, including Jackie Sacerio who brought the project to us. To the audiences who have been tuning into this show week in and week out, THANK YOU!!! This is all for you!"

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Cruel Summer (TV Series)

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