1 of 5 | Lexi Underwood (L) and Sadie Stanley star in "Cruel Summer" Season 2. Photo courtesy of Freeform
LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- Cruel Summer returns with a new cast in an entirely new story for Season 2, premiering Monday at 9 p.m. EDT on Freeform. A new mystery unfolds between 1999 and 2000.
In the first summer, Megan (Sadie Stanley) welcomes foreign exchange student Isabella (Lexi Underwood). A love triangle with Luke (Griffin Gluck) and a crime ensues by summer 2000.
"Even though they are only like six months apart, it feels like Megan becomes a completely different person," Stanley, 21, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
Before her senior year, Megan was on an academic path. The other time periods reveal what led to drastic changes.
"Second timeline, we see her open up a little bit and let loose and be a kid," Stanley said. "She kisses a boy and gets a boyfriend and drinks."
As the season reveals what happened in the months between, Megan abandons her academic pursuits and closes off communication with her mother (KaDee Strickland).
"She's got a really hardened exterior that is just reflecting what's going on on the inside," Stanley said of the third Megan. "She's been through a lot and everything she had hoped for has crumbled. She's trying to figure out how to get through."
When Isabella arrives, she seems like someone who can open Megan up to new experiences. Underwood, 19, said Isabella's style projects the image she wants people to see.
"Literally when you first see her walk out of the car, she has on these ridiculously tall heels," Underwood said. "As we go through the journey, we get to see that Isabelle uses that as a mask to cover up deep down what she's really going through on the inside."
Underwood said the changes Isabella exhibits in the other times show a chameleon-like ability to transform herself.
"She adapts and she knows how to essentially change herself to fit in," Underwood said. "In the third timeline, Isabella has completely lost herself."
Luke only appears in the 1999 timelines. Gluck, 22, said Luke changes little despite what the girls are going through.
"He's not that different because they're only six months apart," Gluck said. "Luke doesn't get to do as much fun transformations as the girls do."
All three of the actors were born after the show takes place. The actors all agreed the eras were not so distant as to require in-depth research.
"I think I looked up what president was the president at the time," Gluck said.
Season 1 of Cruel Summer took place in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Stanley said 1999-2000 felt less drastically different from the present.
"I feel like a lot of certain trends culturally have come back right now as far as fashion, music and just iconic moments have been resurfacing," Stanley said. "So didn't have to dig too deep."
Underwood did listen to music from the period to help her get into character.
"I had 'Linger' by The Cranberries, 'Fade Into You' by Maisie Star, 'Baby One More Time' by Britney [Spears] because I just assumed that Isabelle is like a huge Britney fan," Underwood said. "A lot of No Doubt in there because she definitely talks about it in the show."
New episodes of Cruel Summer air Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT on Freeform and stream the next day on Hulu.