Freeform’s much-anticipated series Cruel Summer is slated for a 20th April release date. The Jessica Biel-directed series takes place between 1993 and 1995 and focuses on two women: Kate Wallis, a popular teenager who disappears mysteriously, and Jeannette Turner, a reserved, nerdy girl suspected of having something to do with Kate’s disappearance.

The story will play out from different points of view over three summers. Deadline’s write-up about the series reveals that Turner will eventually become ‘the most despised person in America.’ The synopsis has made fans wonder whether Cruel Summer is based on a true story.

There is no mention of Cruel Summer being based on a true story

Advertising that a production is based on a true story perks people’s interest in it and invariably drives viewership numbers up. Most of the time, a production’s trailer will reveal its connection to real-life events. 

Cruel Summer’s trailer doesn’t assert that the series is based on a true story. Media write-ups about the film also don’t refer to Cruel Summer drawing from real-life accounts.

Nevertheless, the story in the series reflects a tragic yet common occurrence in society. People disappear every day, and a lot of the time, they are never recovered. The show’s leads Chiara Aurelia and Olivia Holt talked to Deadline about the themes in the series:

“Each year represents a different element if all out lives. The darkness, the sadness, the youthfulness. It really shines a light on the complex part of being a teenager and trying to figure out who you are and the midst of a million things that are going on.”

Jessica Biel endeavors to bring out the struggles faced by teenage girls via Cruel Summer

One might argue that there is a saturation of teen dramas, but Jessica Biel opines that the younger generation still has stories to tell. She told Deadline:

“To sit in a space with the younger generation and really give them this platform to really talk about some intense, hard things that these young people are going through is really exciting for me. And it’s something we want to do for all people, but especially for women and for girls.”

Jessica would love to trade places with any actor in the film, but for this project, she feels more useful behind the camera. According to Biel, her wealth of experience is better utilized in the show’s development rather than in the performances.