“The Summer I Became Beautiful” from Amazon and “To All Boys” from Netflix are adaptations of trilogies of books for young people by Jenny Han, and each of them tells about a teenage girl experiencing romantic love for the first time, but one is better than the other. The franchise of the film “To All Boys” ended in 2021 with the second sequel, “To All Boys: Always and Forever”, in which the main character Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and her lover Peter (Noah Sentineo) were preparing to leave for college. Season 1, “The Summer I Became Beautiful,” released in June 2022, depicts the events of Khan’s book of the same name, adapting the first part of her trilogy.
The first season of “The Summer Where I Became Beautiful” follows high school student Belle (Lola Tang) during her summer vacation, which she considers the best time of the year. She always spends the season with her mother Laurel (Jackie Chang) and brother Stephen (Sean Kaufman) at the summer home of her mother’s friend Suzanne (Rachel Blanchard) in Cousins Beach. A favorite part of Belli’s annual tradition has always been the time spent with Suzanne’s sons, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad (Christopher Briney), the latter with whom Belli has been in love for many years. But since she believes that Conrad does not reciprocate her feelings, Belli decides to take part in the debutante ball, which leads her to new friends and romantic hobbies.
Similarly, focusing on shy teenage girls whose romantic fantasies are not realized, comparisons between the adaptations of “The Summer I Became Beautiful” and “All Boys” end there. In the first issue of the latter, “To All the Guys I Used to Love,” Lara Jean and Peter are always the main couple, while Belle has several potential love interests in the first season of “The Summer I Became Beautiful.” The series of films for boys focuses on the love story of Lara Jean and Peter and the development of their characters, which makes its story more meaningful and, therefore, ultimately the best adaptation of Khan of the two.
“To All the Boys” shows how Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship changes over the years, and shows how they both have to work on being together and staying together, despite the fact that their interests sometimes separate them physically. In “The Summer I Became Beautiful,” Belly’s potentially romantic relationships with Cam (David Iacono) and Jeremiah are often overshadowed by her overwhelming feelings for Conrad, but there was no proper connection between Belly and any of the three boys in the first season, despite the fact that she chose one of them in the finale of The Summer I Turned Pretty. Although this decision is hinted at throughout the seven episodes of the first season of the show, the characters never seem to achieve this result.
In addition to character development, “All Boys” manages to use familiar romantic comedy images without necessarily turning them into cliches. Meanwhile, focusing on a love triangle in which two of the participants are brothers, the first season of “The Summer I Became Beautiful” relies heavily on one of the oldest tropes in the genre of romance. But instead of relying on that, the series treats one of the connections as narratively less important than the other.
References to the “All Boys” romcoms and their cliches may cause a few silly moments, but the Netflix movie trilogy is always dynamic, and its story never seems to be drawn out. The strange pace of the first season of the series “The Summer I became Beautiful” can be contrasted with accurate references to pop culture and an amazing soundtrack, but if we compare other parts of the stories and their romantic orientation, then “All Boys” ultimately works better than “Summer I”. Turned into a beauty.