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Are you ready for some serious 90s nostalgia with 'Cruel Summer'? Learn about the series and if it was inspired by a true crime case.

Is Hulu’s new show ‘Cruel Summer’ based on a real true crime case?

There’s something odd happening in the 90s over at Freeform. A twisty psychological thriller that definitely holds some ring of truth for true crime fans. Cruel Summer, which airs on Freeform before being released on Hulu the next day, promises to be a good ol’ fashioned mystery. We’re not only talking about the 90s throwbacks that the series will provide us.

But is Cruel Summer based on an actual true crime case? A pretty, popular girl just up and vanishes one day? People suspecting the best friend or the boyfriend or whoever. It’s a case that’s as old as time for the true crime community, who can think of a dozen mysterious disappearances that have people side-eyeing those closest to the victim. It’s practically the bread & butter of the true crime world, after all.

Is Cruel Summer based on a true crime case?

The details of Freeform’s Cruel Summer may echo dozens of true crime cases, but no. This is a wholly original mystery that has not been based on a true crime. Talking with the New York Post, star Olivia Holt said, “I think we all need a good mystery right now, and I think that this show is it. I’m obsessed with psychological thrillers and I’ve never been able to be part of one yet in my career.” 

Holt added that her favorite psychological thriller is HBO’s The Undoing, “I watched it like three times, and each time I’ve had a different opinion on it, or there are things that I caught that I didn’t see the first time. I think that’s what makes these shows so exciting and unique — you get to question your own opinions. And if you watch it with friends or family, you question their opinions, too.”

Clearly, she’s hoping that Cruel Summer will leave us guessing and with a different opinion each time. But we can’t look to any true crime case in particular to figure out just who did what. 


What is Cruel Summer about?

While Freeform’s Cruel Summer is not based on a true crime case, the show sounds like a very compelling sort of mystery. Executive produced by Jessica Biel, Cruel Summer follows Kate Wallis (Holt), who is the town’s popular girl that suddenly goes missing. Suspected of her disappearance is Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), who basically takes over Kate’s life after she goes missing.

Through a series of flashbacks, each episode takes place on one day (June 21st) over three different years (1993, 1994, 1995). As the flashbacks show us how Kate really went missing and how Jeanette is responsible for her disappearance. Or is she really? We definitely wouldn’t pass a show like this to make it seem like Jeanette is the culprit when she’s a red herring

Still, it’ll be an interesting evolution for Jeanette, who, apparently, goes from the shy outcast to Miss Popular to the most hated person in the Texas county. Of course, there will be the teen angst that goes with it over time as well. Apparently, the showrunner did this because he finds teenagers to be terrifying. Which, you know what? You’re not entirely wrong about that, dude. 

When does Cruel Summer premiere? 

While not based on a true crime case, Cruel Summer will be certain to draw you into its complicated web on April 27th at 10/9c on Freeform. Episodes will go up on Hulu the next day if you prefer watching online. 

Are you excited for Freeform’s Cruel Summer? What sort of true crime cases do you think may have informed it? Sound off in the comments down below and let us know. 


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