Australia delivers another solid teen sports drama, but it avoids making big waves.
This Surviving Summer Season 1 review is spoiler-free.
Coming pretty hot on the heels of Maverixanother Australian teen series aimed at younger audiences, Survive the summer is… well, another Australian teen series aimed at younger audiences. It’s even a slightly extreme sport, in this case surfing rather than motocross, but they’re different shows nonetheless despite sharing the same target demographic and many of the same themes.
Here, a kind-hearted rebel named Summer is sent from New York to the Australian seaside town of Shorehaven while her mother works for six weeks. Staying with family friends, including surfer son, Ari, who is riding a new wave after a serious injury, the summer naturally begins to heat up the place and the people there as we prepare for a big athletic event.
Now that I write it, this show is really quite similar to Maverix. The sport is in the background of the human drama, and while it’s headed for one of those tournament-style grand finales, it’s really the relationships between the characters that hold it all together. There’s even a social media influencer on the come-up, but I guess you can’t do a youth show these days without including one.
Surfing is a more popular pastime than motocross, so I guess some of that cultural specificity is lost here, but as I’ve said many times before, basically any kind of sport has dramatic stakes pre -packaged. You don’t need details, experience or insider knowledge. Whatever teachers push these days, it’s all about winning and losing.
The trick is to convince the public to root for someone to win or lose. Survive the summer does a decent job of that, revolving around characters that are decently layered and have a bit more to offer beyond their broad archetype. Sure, it’s not the longest series in the world, and it doesn’t deal with the most complex issues and ideas, but it just feels long enough to get you invested without overstaying its welcome or over-emphasizing the point.
And yet, there’s really nothing here that’s surprising or that you haven’t seen before; there is nothing daring or original. That’s not necessarily a criticism per se, but it certainly keeps the show from becoming something special and rising above its contemporaries. It’s a solid version of a specific thing, but it’s content to be just another example of that thing rather than something fresh and distinct. This won’t bother most of the target audience, but it’s still worth mentioning.