TV Review: ‘Dead of Summer’ Series Premiere

Photo Credit: Freeform/Tyler Shields

Photo Credit: Freeform/Tyler Shields

Freeform adds yet another young adult television series for the summer to air alongside fan favorite Pretty Little Liars. I don’t know about you but there’s something about a murder mystery type of show that gets this platform going and it works!

Dead of Summer takes place in the 1980s when a group of teenagers take on the role of camp counselors at Camp Stillwater. The camp itself has been closed for years until Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell) decides to open up for business. But of course, nothing is all rainbows and butterflies back at the camp. Ghosts appear, deaths happen, eerie vibes are felt everywhere and it’s evident something horrific happened on the campgrounds.

The series is created by some familiar names: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowtiz, and Ian B. Goldberg. All Once Upon A Time viewers can rejoice because that can only mean one thing… Familiar faces such as Frozen’s Anna AKA Elizabeth Lail who plays the lead character Amy Hughes. Another former OUAT actress you might recognize is the Snow Queen herself who now plays the camp owner. Last thing to note are the flashbacks. OUAT is very keen on telling a character’s backstory throughout one episode. The same happens in Dead of Summer and it’s awesome.

The show definitely has a Are You Afraid of The Dark? meets Holes vibe. The series starts off with a flashback from 1871 where some angry men with pitchforks go after a man in a cabin screaming out “What did you do?” Cue a cutaway to dead bodies floating in the water. What an opening, am I right? You’re automatically left asking, “Uh, okay. What?”

From there, we see the seven camp counselors appear on the screen, each having their own story which, trust me, gets interesting as each episode passes. The casting is a solid one with both new fresh and familiar faces:

  • Elizabeth Lail plays Amy Hughes: The new kid to the group who is trying her best to fit in. Seems like she’ll be the key to reawakening whatever happened in 1871.
  • Elizabeth Mitchell plays Deb Carpenter: The camp owner with a serious hidden agenda, who may or may not be flirting with Eli.
  • Alberto Frezza plays Garrett Sykes: A local townie officer who is hell-bent on figuring out what’s going on at the camp.
  • Zelda Willilams plays Drew Reeves: The one character no one knows anything about, sticks to being a lone ranger and covers his face half the time. 
  • Mark Indelicato plays Blair Ramos: Oh, be still, my Ugly Betty heart. Blair is the supportive best friend of Cricket who has his eye on Drew.
  • Eli Goree plays Joel Goodso: You may remember him from The 100. His character is obsessed with capturing every single moment on video which may capture images that aren’t visible in plain sight. Oh, and he has a huge crush on Deb.
  • Ronen Rubinstein plays Alex Powell: Formerly known for crushing his short role on Orange is The New Black, Rubinstein’s character is the preppy kid who uses his charm and wit to get what he wants.
  • Amber Coney plays Carolina Diez AKA Cricket: By far one of my favorite characters. Struggling with her self-esteem, Cricket does whatever she can to get the attention of Alex.
  • Paulina Singer plays Jessie Tyler: The ultimate beauty queen who knows she’s beautiful and doesn’t like it when the spotlight is taken away from her, or when she can’t get what she wants.
  • Zachary Gordon plays Blotter: Weird name, but that’s what he goes by. The comedic relief of the show!

The show is supposed to be set in the ‘80s but it’s a far cry. I’ve watched my fair share of ‘80s flicks to get a pretty good understanding of the decade, but man, the show could have tried harder! I felt more of a ‘90s vibe the whole time. That was the number one thing that stuck out to me.

If you’re looking for your summer’s new guilty pleasure, Dead of Summer is the one. It’s bound to keep you guessing what exactly is going on at the camp during its present day and what happened in the 1800s. I’ll be pretty bitter if the reasoning for everything is a huge disappointment. The way the series is building up, I’m hoping for one gruesome, unexpected ending.

Dead of Summer premieres new episodes every Tuesday at 9 pm on Freeform.

Ash is a teenager trapped in a twenty-three year old body. She owes everything she's learned to Lizzie McGuire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Unfabulous. She's a pop culture fanatic so yeah, she tend to pray to the entertainment lords begging for MTV to finally hire her. When she's not updating her dog with her life stories, she tweets some pretty cool things from time to time.
  • guest9999

    “The show is supposed to be set in the
    ‘80s but it’s a far cry. I’ve watched my fair share of ‘80s flicks to
    get a pretty good understanding of the decade, but man, the show could
    have tried harder! I felt more of a ‘90s vibe the whole time. That was
    the number one thing that stuck out to me.”


    Sadly, the fashion and hair styles they are using are almost all from the 90s and
    today and almost none from 1989.

    Except for a few token bits of genuine 80s (cars for one), 90% of it screams
    mid to late 90s/2016 and only 10%, at best, 1989. Not exactly authentic.

    It’s amazingly how the producers were in high school in 1989 and still somehow managed to make this yet another show that gets the 1980s so completely wrong. This was THEIR exact era. How could they mistake it for the 90s that ended their era or for today?

    Even the slang they mess up by somehow using some of the few bits of today’s slang that were not used the 80s.

    And it’s bizarre that the gay guy is freely open and the Russian kids are
    being demonized for being Russian when in the 1980s it was gay people
    getting hassled and nobody caring a whit if someone came from a Russian
    family or not.

    I love they did set it 1980s, but I wish they had
    just tried even a little bit more to make them look and act like they
    were in the 80s.

    • guest9999

      And just the cast photo they sent to everyone. How 1997 and how not 1989 does it look. It’s crazy.