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‘Cruel Summer’ stars talk show’s “guessing game” plot and learning ’90s slang

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Freeform/Frank Ockenfels (L-R: Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia)

Meet your new favorite bingeable series: Cruel Summer.

The Jessica Biel-produced Freeform series tells the story of two young women whose lives become unexpectedly intertwined. Olivia Holt plays Kate Wallis, a popular girl who mysteriously goes missing, and Chiara Aurelia plays Jeanette Turner, a shy wannabe who’s accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance.

The story happens over three summers in the early ‘90s and is told through shifting points of view. Holt and Aurelia tell ABC Audio that right away, you’re going to have theories about which characters you can trust.

“[W]e were even doing that on set because we didn’t figure out what the finale episode was until a couple of days before we started shooting it,” Holt says. “Yeah, lots of different theories, lots of different opinions. A lot of people’s opinions are going to change within each episode, especially with the non-linear storytelling.”

Aurelia adds, “For all of us, it was a guessing game every day. We would all share the little bits of intel we’d gotten and we were trying to put all the pieces together. But I think it comes together in a better way than any of us could have imagined.”

For 23-year-old Holt and 18-year-old Aurelia, immersing themselves in the show’s ‘90s setting also proved puzzling at times.

“I didn’t know what a Walkman was or even the dial-up [internet] or… just like some of the slang that was used in the ’90s,” Holt admits. “Like, P-H-A-T, phat, like means cool or something like that. And I had no idea what that meant. I was like, ‘Why am I saying this is phat?’”

Cruel Summer premieres tonight with a two-hour event at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.

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