Spoiler-Free Review of “Cruel Summer” on Freeform: Mean Girls with Bite

*This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!*

“Who do you believe?”

Cruel Summer premiered on Freeform on April 20th 2021. The series is set to air ten weekly episodes. It stars Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Harley Quinn Smith, Michael Landes, and Froy Gutierrez. Each episode runs for approximately 50 minutes.

The events we witness take place over three summers in the 1990’s as a teen goes missing and another girl mysteriously takes her place.

Here is the trailer:

Cruel Summer adapts a typical teen thriller formula into something different by presenting us with three timelines that jump back and forth. It’s something bold and unique, but does it get in the way of this already entertaining plot? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Cruel Summer Spoiler Free Review 1

Images courtesy of Freeform

Mean Girls meets Single White Female.

Sure, it’s been done before, but this is a formula for success. I really loved this vibe and I was drawn into the plot and mystery completely. I can’t predict what is going on and I am actually really excited to see what happens next.

I also really like that I’m not sure who to root for just yet. The opening two episodes present us with different perspectives and of course things are not as they seem.

The performances are actually pretty on point and I thought that Kevin Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith was really great and I’m excited to see her in this role.

Cruel Summer Spoiler Free Review 2

Images courtesy of Freeform

90’s nostalgia.

Much like Little Fires Everywhere, this show is also bringing us some 90’s nostalgia with the fashion and music soundtrack. I’m not sure it was truly necessary for this show, but it’s an added bonus and I am enjoying the throwback so far.

The Cons:

Cruel Summer Spoiler Free Review 3

Images courtesy of Freeform

Trippy time jumps.

While I appreciate that this show is trying to do something different, the trippy time jumps become really confusing and distracting. I actually think that the show is really good without these flashes every few minutes and while the actresses do a great job of reminding us which Jeanette and Kate we are dealing with, my head started to hurt after a while.

So am I in or out?

Cruel Summer Spoiler Free Review 4

Images courtesy of Freeform

I’m in!

Even with the trippy time jumps, this show is really addicting. I think that it might quickly become one of my favorite shows and I am really excited to see the mystery unfold over the next several weeks.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Cruel Summer in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

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A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek is out now!

Play if you dare…

Dash and Seek is available here!

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Ranking your Favorite Female Performances on Television for 2020

We had so many incredible female performances on television in 2020, as these strong, courageous, and slightly quirky women lit up the screen. Whether it was a moment of empowerment, the unexpected transformation of a character, or a breakout role, these women captured our undivided attention throughout the year.

Again, it was difficult for me to narrow down my favorite female performances for 2020 because there were honestly so many and I didn’t think it was possible for me to choose my absolute favorite one, which is where you came in!    

I ran a three round poll (randomized tournament style) on Twitter and asked for fans to cast their votes so that we can all decide who our favorite female performances are for the year.  Thank you so much for your participation and support, as the tournament was so much fun and actually really competitive!

Round One featured the following Female Performances on TV from 2020:

  • Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper from Riverdale
  • Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden from The Flight Attendant
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon from The Queen’s Gambit 
  • Cynthia Erivo as Holly Gibney from The Outsider
  • Nicole Kidman as Grace Fraser from The Undoing
  • Kerry Washington as Mia Warren from Little Fires Everywhere
  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison from Homeland
  • Jodie Comer as Villanelle from Killing Eve
  • Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia Blake from The 100
  • Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler from Better Call Saul
  • Danai Gurira as Michonne from The Walking Dead

After your votes, the following female actresses moved on to Round Two:

  • Danai Gurira
  • Jodie Comer
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Claire Danes
  • Anya Taylor-Joy
  • Kaley Cuoco

After your votes in Round Two, the following female actresses moved on to the FINALS:

  • Jodie Comer
  • Danai Gurira
  • Claire Danes
  • Kaley Cuoco

Honorable Mention: Anya Taylor-Joy came up short, but I think she should honestly get an Emmy for her performance!!!!! Perfection!

Image courtesy of Netflix

After your votes in Round Three, the FINAL results are:

4th place: Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison from Homeland

Image courtesy of Showtime

Claire has always been so intense and emotional in her portrayal of Carrie, but I thought that she also channeled a lot of maturity and strength in the final season. Well deserved!

3rd place: Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden from The Flight Attendant

Image courtesy of HBO Max

Kaley Cuoco really showed off a completely different side of her by delighting us in one of my favorite shows of the year. Her quirky portrayal of Cassie was spot on and it really made the show that much more enjoyable. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

2nd place: Danai Gurira as Michonne from The Walking Dead

Image courtesy of AMC

It wasn’t easy knowing it would be Michonne’s final season, but wow did Danai deliver some incredible performances along the way. She brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and really reminded us that she has been the heart and soul of this show for so long! Thank you Danai!

Drum roll please…

I am so beyond excited to announce your WINNER for Favorite Female Performance of 2020: Jodie Comer as Villanelle in Killing Eve!

Image courtesy of BBC America

Jodie has been such a joy to watch. Villanelle is a complex character and Jodie has really brought her to life. In the third season, we finally got to peel back some layers and witness what truly makes Villanelle tick. Her humanity has really been showing more and more, which makes her an even more remarkable character in my mind. Jodie will always be one of my favorite actresses and I am so pleased with the results! Congrats Jodie!

Thanks to all the fans who voted!  I wish you all the best for the New Year!

View Final Poll Results Here!

I hope you enjoyed the list and please feel free to post your thoughts and comments below on some of your favorite female performances on TV from 2020. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing for 2021!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

My performance of the week ending 4/18/20 on TV goes to…

Kerry Washington as Mia Warren on Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere.

There are a lot of emotions to tap into during this show, but Kerry manages to display every single one to perfection. Her performance as Mia Warren is real and honest and she brings me to tears.

**Please note some spoilers are ahead, but major ones have been left out for your convenience.**

It’s no secret that Kerry Washington is a fantastic actress, but she is exploring a whole new character in Little Fires Everywhere and I absolutely love every single second of it. Mia Warren clashes drastically with Reese Witherspoon’s Elena Richardson and the dynamic between these two is fantastic.

Even though both are talented actresses, Kerry has been stealing the show. Mia is broken and jaded in a lot of ways, but she also tells the blunt truth, which is not always received well in a small town where appearances matter.

Mia is a fantastic artist and photographer and she loves to take pictures of how people really are, capturing them in emotionally raw moments that reflect the parts of them they don’t always want others to see.

Mia Warren Hulu 1
Images courtesy of Hulu

And that’s what makes her work so unique, revealing the many layers of her own character as well. After learning more about Mia’s past, a lot of the jumbled pieces started to form into coherent images, but Mia is far from being perfect herself. She has made many mistakes in her life and she clings to her relationship with her daughter, Pearl, but quickly learns that perhaps her stance on honesty should also apply to her own family.

Mia’s connections with other characters are truly interesting because she really seems like more of a loner and yet she is able to make such an epic impact on all of their lives. Elena starts out wanting to gain Mia’s approval, but eventually changes her tune, determined to expose her for her own faults.

Mia Warren Hulu 2
Images courtesy of Hulu

There is this constant divide between these two and yet they both value motherhood above all else. Elena is all about perfection even though she has her own skeletons in the closet, but Mia recognizes the beauty in imperfection. It’s interesting how Mia’s daughter bonds with Elena and Izzy feels more comfortable with Mia, revealing that perhaps these two broad ends of the spectrum are not that different.

Mia has tried so hard to prepare her daughter, Pearl, for the harsh realities of the world while Elena refuses to let Izzy just be herself, which creates another interesting dynamic. Through it all, Mia’s love for Pearl is apparent and she will do anything to protect her child, but now that Elena is threatening that relationship, things may get ugly.

Mia Warren Hulu 3
Images courtesy of Hulu

What’s next for Mia? Well, we’ll have to wait and see, but Elena has crossed a serious line and Mia is not one to stay quiet. We also need to see how this impacts Mia’s relationship with her own daughter and how this plays out. The fires are igniting everywhere between these families and it’s only a matter of time before someone or something is destroyed.

I can’t wait to see how it all ends and I am so invested and grateful for Kerry Washington’s performances week after week. She is truly brilliant in this role and deserves some recognition for sure.

Stay tuned for a recognized performance on TV each week!

Have a performance on TV that you think is simply outstanding? Feel free to contact me with your nomination for the week by Friday at midnight! 

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

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A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek comes out April 28th!

Dash and Seek is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “Little Fires Everywhere” on Hulu: Deliciously Deadly Suburbia

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“If they’re saying something untrue, then you should change the story…”

Little Fires Everywhere premiered on Hulu on March 17th 2020 with 3 new episodes (Approximately 50 minutes in length). The remaining 5 episodes of the limited series will air weekly on Wednesdays. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Joshua Jackson, Lexi Underwood, and Gavin Lewis.

The show is based on the best-selling novel written by Celeste Ng. It follows a 90’s family living in the picture perfect suburban town of Shaker Heights. They cross paths with a mother and daughter who have just arrived in town, as secrets, dark pasts, and mysteries are revealed. Each character’s story is intertwined with another, creating a vortex of drama along the way.

This plot and setting may seem familiar, as it definitely channels some aspects of Big Little Lies, The Affair, and Desperate Housewives.

However, the connections and story lure you in right away, making this binge-watch friendly option entertaining. But does it do enough to stand out from its predecessors? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Little Fires Hulu 3
Images courtesy of Hulu

Witherspoon and Washington are electric on screen.

Their characters certainly have an interesting dynamic and we can absolutely feel the awkward tension between them, as each mother comes from a different socioeconomic background. However, the performances of these two incredible actresses transform these intriguing characters into something far greater. I can’t get enough of them!

The rest of the supporting characters are actually terrific as well and I would like to spotlight Lexi Underwood, who plays Mia’s (Washington) daughter, Pearl.

A mystery that leaves you wanting more.

The opening scene of the series immediately draws you in, as we discover that Elena Richardson’s (Witherspoon) beautiful home is on fire. We know that this is not an accident and it certainly makes you suspect everyone we meet, as we try to get to the bottom of this mystery, while other secrets are exposed along the way.

Little Fires Hulu 2
Images courtesy of Hulu

90’s nostalgia.

I don’t know about you, but I love a show that can transport me back to a time that I know very well. The show is set during the late 90’s and we get several mentions of this, but the pop culture references seamlessly mentioned really make you feel like you are turning back time.

The kids are seen watching Ricki Lake and The Real World. Elena’s daughter throws in some comments about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even compares her own high school relationship to Brenda and Dylan’s on Beverly Hills, 90210.

Once you get to the high school dance, the songs will absolutely make you smile. Seriously, one song after the next had me singing along from Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping to The Cardigans’s Lovefool to Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply.

I was in 90’s music heaven and I still know all the words! Enjoy!

The Cons:

Little Fires Hulu 4
Images courtesy of Hulu

Same Reese. Different show.

I wouldn’t say that this is really a con, but I have seen Reese Witherspoon play this character before. Elena Richardson is very much a mix between Bree Van de Kamp from Desperate Housewives and Madeline Martha Mackenzie on Big Little Lies, played by Witherspoon. I’ve seen Reese play this character obsessed with perfection many times and I was hoping for a different role for her.

That being said, she plays the role brilliantly, but I guess I was looking for some more layers from her.

So am I in or out?

Little Fires Hulu 5
Images courtesy of Hulu

I’m in! This series is exactly what I need right now. The show keeps you on the edge of your seat and there are so many moments in-between the big ones that will take your breath away. Every character and plot point is important and Kerry Washington is out of this world. She’s truly incredible and she lights up the screen with Reese Witherspoon, as we unfold this mystery together.

While some of the suburban drama is predictable, the show has not let me down yet, surprising me with its reveals and twists. I can’t wait to watch the remaining episodes and I absolutely recommend this show.

It is the series to watch right now!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Little Fires Everywhere in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

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The 2020 Mid-Season TV Premieres I am most looking forward to: Bring on the new episodes!

Greetings TV Fans!  As we approach Mid-January, some of our absolute favorite shows will be returning with new episodes and we can also look forward to some brand new shows as well that have a lot of potential.  Looking to find out when they all start?  You came to the right place!

While some of our favorite returning shows already have 2020 premiere dates announced, others are still giving out a TBD 2020 response, as I vigilantly keep checking to see when they will be premiering.  It looks like we have several new shows with a lot of potential and some of our returning favorites seem very promising as well.

Without further delay, the 2020 Mid-season TV premieres I am most looking forward to are:

The Outsider

The Outsider HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

Premiere date:  January 12th 2020

Where to watch:  HBO

Based on Stephen King’s novel, this series will follow the murder investigation of a young boy, which leads a seasoned cop to question everything after discovering some supernatural forces and threats along the way.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 3)

Sabrina Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Premiere date:  January 24th 2020

Where to watch:  Netflix

Sabrina Spellman is back and we can’t wait to see what she does next!  Will she finally find a balance between being a mortal and a witch or will she lose herself to dark magic completely?

The Stranger

The Stranger Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Premiere date:  January 30th 2020

Where to watch:  Netflix

Adam Price seems to have it all.  That is, until a stranger approaches him one night and reveals a shocking secret that will change his life forever.  This new mystery thriller looks binge-watch promising for sure!

Katy Keene

Katy Keene The CW
Image courtesy of The CW

Premiere date:  February 6th 2020

Where to watch:  The CW

A spin-off of Riverdale Yes please!  Oh wait and it stars Pretty Little Liars’s Lucy Hale?  I’m in!

Locke & Key

Locke and key Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Premiere date:  February 7th 2020

Where to watch:  Netflix

Based on the graphic novel, this show follows a group of siblings who move into Keyhouse after their father is murdered, which leads to some creepy findings of their own.

Homeland Season 8 (Final Season)

Homeland Showtime
Image courtesy of Showtime

Premiere date:  February 9th 2020

Where to watch:  Showtime

It seems like it’s been quite some time since we’ve last checked in with Carrie Mathison, but it’s about time.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends!

The Haunting of Bly Manor (The Haunting of Hill House Season 2)

The Haunting of Bly Manor Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Premiere date: TBD 2020

Where to watch: Netflix

The second season of The Haunting of Hill House already looks extremely promising based on the premise.  Much like the AHS anthology, we will see several of the stars return from season one as we are welcomed into a new story, which will loosely follow The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  Can’t wait!!!!

Cursed

Cursed Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Premiere date: TBD 2020

Where to watch: Netflix

A fresh take on the Arthurian legend starring 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford?  I’m definitely in!  This show is based on Frank Miller’s novel and will center around the Lady of the Lake (Nimue) story in a re imagined way.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft country HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

Premiere date: TBD 2020

Where to watch: HBO

A Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams team-up seems too good to be true, but that’s what we have here for this highly anticipated horror drama.  Based on the novel by Matt Ruff, this story follows Atticus Black, who is searching for his missing father.

Westworld (Season 3)

Westworld HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

Premiere date: March 15th 2020

Where to watch: HBO

Season 3 will bring us into a whole new world and if Aaron Paul is around for it, I’m in!

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere Hulu
Image courtesy of Hulu

Premiere date: March 18th 2020

Where to watch: Hulu

Starring the talented and amazing Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, this limited series will follow the fears of suburban mothers, which may give us some Big Little Lies and Desperate Housewives nostalgia for sure.  I’m in!

Stay tuned for reviews, recaps, and top five moments!  I don’t know about you, but I am very excited for new episodes to return and I am really looking forward to exploring these new promising shows!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post the shows you are looking forward to premiering in 2020 in the comments below.  I always love discovering new shows and that’s where you come in!  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Dreaming of Wonderland Series Final Chapter Blog

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Do you love horror series?  Of course you do!  Please also check out 12 Nights of Horror Series Coming Soon.  It’s your home for everything you need to know about new and returning horror television series including new trailers, premiere dates, reviews, recaps, and renewals!