Netflix’s ‘Surviving Summer’ Is Making Waves: Is it a Steady Glide or Total Wipeout?

The fact of the matter is, there are more teen dramas out there than days in the summer. Even if an obsessive fan of the genre so desired, they wouldn’t be able to watch each and every one. With classics like “Vampire Diaries,” “Riverdale” or “Outer Banks,” there seems to be a distinct formula put in place for these shows to succeed.

That formula is as follows: drool-worthy actors, a semi-decent plotline and of course, a love triangle or two. 

While that may be the key to the most delectable and binge-worthy teen drama series, that trite combination has become way too common these days. An example of this unoriginality is in the new Netflix series “Surviving Summer.”

The 10-episode series, which was released on June 3, focuses on the life of Summer Torres (Sky Katz) who is expelled from her school in New York and sent to Australia to live with friends of her mother’s. Torres acquaints herself with young surfers in the town of Shorehaven and joins their inner circle — which leads to Torres rediscovering who she really is, with loads of drama along the way. 

Sky Katz as Summer Torres. Courtesy of Netlfix.

Although Torres despises being over 10,000 miles away from her concrete jungle, she eventually discovers friendship and the natural gift of surfing during her stay in Australia. Her new Aussie-friends, Ari (Kai Lewins), Bhodi (Savannah La Rain), Poppy (Lilliana Bowrey) and Marlon (Joao Marinho), help her melt her rough edges and fall in love with both the town and its people.

The stunning set and environment of the series focuses on gorgeous shots of the beaches of Australia and epic close-up angles of the actors catching a wave. Along with the picture-perfect scenery, the show is also pleasing to the ears and features the ultimate summer beach playlist. Tracks from Vance Joy, Empire of the Sun and the iconic “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap make the score of this series to scream summer vacation. 

Even though the show had the perfect backdrop and music, the uniqueness abruptly stops there. The plot of the show is identical with what’s been done for countless other teen dramas. What might have been forgotten is that the secret-sauce to a teen drama series is that it must incorporate a plot that solves a problem for the characters. In “Outer Banks,” it was discovering mystery gold and in “Gossip Girl” it was revealing the identity of Gossip Girl. But “Surviving Summer” only focuses on one surf competition after the next. This leaves audiences to wonder how many surfing montages are one too many?

Courtesy of Netflix.

Along with the lack of substance in the plot, the main character of Summer Torres is extremely unlikable and is portrayed as a spoiled New York socialite who seems fake when trying to be sincere. Especially with a teen drama, the protagonist needs to pull the audience in as a believable leader for the show. No connection is developed between the audience and main character, which is especially disappointing given that her name helps form the title of the series.

Despite the lack of a substantial storyline, “Surviving Summer” is still both a binge-worthy and entertaining series. In the beginning of watching the show, I found myself dreading each episode knowing it wouldn’t live up to my favorite summer teen drama “Outer Banks.” But, halfway through, I was dying to know if the Shorehaven group qualified for the next surfing competition and would grind my teeth in nervousness if one of them got tumbled by the waves. 

Now look, this is not an Emmy-worthy series, but that’s alright. As long as the viewer knows what they are getting themselves into, then expectations will delightfully be met. As a result, “Surviving Summer” is the perfect series to plunge into this summer. And, it may just encourage the inner surfer in everyone to shine a little bit brighter. 

“Surviving Summer” is available to stream on Netflix.

By Megan Forrester

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