Not only is Shayla completely absent from the first three episodes of “The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 2,” but it’s also revealed that she and Steven have gone their separate ways since viewers last saw them together. For some fans, this twist may sound a little too much like the series pouring salt on an already open wound. However, it’s worth noting that Steven and Shayla aren’t the only “Summer I Turned Pretty” couple who were revealed to have broken up early in the show’s second season. Belly and Conrad (Christopher Briney) also broke up, as did Laurel (Jackie Chung) and Cleveland (Alfredo Narciso).
According to Jenny Han, who also wrote the books “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is based on, the show’s unexpected breaks are all about separating its sunny, romantic first season from its relatively darker second. “Season 1 is about the dream and fantasy of summer love, then season 2 learns that nothing lasts forever, not summer romance and sadly not life either,” Han revealed to Entertainment Weekly. “It’s a really tough lesson, and that’s where Belly and all of our characters have to grow.”
Its thematic relevance probably won’t make Shayla and Steven’s breakup any easier for fans to accept, and the same can be said for the former’s surprising absence. For her part, Han says she thinks the passionate responses from viewers to the character’s off-screen departure are a testament to the impact she and Mills have had with Shayla.
“For me, as a character designer, it’s always really wonderful to see one of the characters being so warmly welcomed,” Han confessed. “It’s truly an honor for the fans to care so deeply about the characters.”
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