As sweet, light, and refreshing as a soda on ice by the swimming pool, this book-based drama tackles the confusion and loveliness of an awkward coming-of-age. Last year, Belly had glasses and braids; but as her BFF tells her, she looks "a lot different" this summer with "new boobs" and everything. Boys, and even men, notice her, talk to her; movie night with the moms doesn't feel the same, and neither does hanging out with her family and longtime friends -- one handsome family friend in particular. Wonderfully, terrifyingly, Conrad seems to notice her, too, but what does that mean when he has personal drama of his own, and a girl that he kisses across the fire at the beach party?
Jenny Han's novel of the same name is beloved and bestselling, and here she shows she has a deft touch with spoken dialogue and pacing, too. As personified by Tung, Belly is beguiling and conflicted, on one hand wanting to play like a puppy in the pool with her good old friends, on the other, she's intoxicated by the sudden rush of power she feels. She wants to put on a white dress and please Susannah with a coming-out season at the country club, and to wear something slinky and short that'll make all the boys notice her at the bonfire. It's easy to love her, and painful yet good to watch as she gets what she wants and only then realizes the limitations of real life vs. romantic fantasies. It's enough to make viewers remember their own teenhood in all its embarrassment and glory, equal parts cringe and magic, just like this series.