Cruel Summer: A Chronological Timeline

In order to keep track of what is happening on Freeform's time-jumpy Cruel Summer, we've laid out all the events in chronological order.

By Lauren Piester May 12, 2021 3:00 AMTags
Watch: Sarah Drew Promises a Satisfying Ending to "Cruel Summer"

Cruel Summer indeed. 

Freeform's throwback thriller has got us seriously invested in whatever happened to Kate Walis (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) back in the summers of 1993, 1994 and 1995. We're deep in the mystery, on the verge of setting up one of those string boards in our living rooms to really get to the bottom of what happened, who knew about it and when. However, we're also deeply confused. 

Each episode shows us what happened on the same day three years in a row, and while it's a brilliant way to illustrate how drastically things are changing for these teens from year to year, it's also sort of baffling and hard to keep track of as the show jumps through time. 

In an effort to make it a little easier to comprehend, we're laying out each moment in the timeline chronologically, starting with Jeanette's 15th birthday on June 21, 1993.

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Five episodes have aired so far, and below, you'll find the events of each significant date laid out in order. You'll also find a poll asking if, after episode five, you think Jeanette is actually guilty of seeing Kate in Martin's basement without doing anything about it.


June 21, 1993 

Jeanette and her friends go to the mall, where they run into Kate and her boyfriend, Jamie (Froy Gutierrez). Jeanette's friends, Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) and Vince (Allius Barnes), buy her that hideous necklace, and together, they write a list of tasks to accomplish. One involves a game of hide and seek inside what's supposed to be an empty house, but new assistant principal Martin Harris (Blake Lee) has actually just bought the house, and Jeanette has to lie to him about why she's there.

June 26, 1993

Kate thinks her stepdad, Rod (Ben Cain), is cheating on her mom, Joy (Andrea Anders), but finds out that her mom is actually cheating on her stepdad with the gardener. She sneaks out of her house, gets drunk, and is found by Martin Harris.

July 4, 1993 

Jeanette fights with her friends after she flushes Mallory's mom's joints (minus one she kept for herself) down the toilet, but then sneaks over to Martin Harris' house to steal a yearbook to make it up to Mallory.

July 15, 1993 

Kate tries to bond with her stepsister Ash (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) during the annual hunting trip, but Ash has no interest in hearing about any affair or in being Kate's sister. Kate then abandons a date with Jamie to look at the stars with Martin.

July 29, 1993

At the carnival, Kate bonds with and clearly begins to fall for Martin, as he steals her scrunchie. Jeanette, meanwhile, is on a date with nerdy Gideon because of her summer bucket list. She ditches him after getting teased, and Martin scolds her for doing so. Jeanette notices Kate's scrunchie and volunteers to return it to her.

Cruel Summer's Sarah Drew Teases the Demise of the Turner Family as the Mystery Deepens

June 21, 1994

Jeanette is awakened on her birthday by Jamie, who is now her boyfriend while Kate has been missing for almost a year. She's now best friends with Kate's former best friends, and she tells them about having sex with Jamie. Mallory accuses her of taking over Kate's life, and then Kate is found alive. Jamie then punches Jeanette in the face. 

June 26, 1994

Jamie and Rod try to get Kate to talk to the police or go to therapy, but she refuses and hides out in the bathtub. Jeanette convinces Jamie to meet with her and she claims she's innocent, and Kate catches them kissing. Kate then takes Jeanette's ugly necklace to the police, using it to try to prove that Jeanette did see her at Martin's house. 

July 4, 1994

Jeanette's dad and brother confront Jamie for punching Jeanette, while Jeanette is confronted with her necklace by the police. Cindy (Sarah Drew) then begins to doubt that her daughter is telling the truth. Jamie asks Jeanette to keep their kiss a secret and confronts her about knowing that Kate was missing before anyone else. Meanwhile, Vince and his secret boyfriend Ben (Nathaniel Ashton) meet up at a bar for a date.


July 15, 1994

Kate becomes close with Mallory when they bond over hating Jeanette, and then Kate and her family learn that Jeanette has the stronger case. Ash tries to be a friend to her stepsister, but Kate blames her for inadvertently making her get closer to Martin in the first place. Ash then secretly joins Kate's abduction victim chatroom. 

July 29, 1994

Kate confronts Jamie about kissing Jeanette, but he claims she hallucinated it and that her trauma has messed with her memory, so she breaks up with him. Cindy starts drinking while her kids go to the carnival to try to talk to Kate, which does not work out, and Greg meets his future girlfriend Angela at the video store.

June 21, 1995

Jeanette spends her birthday with lawyers and rewatches old news footage about Kate's abduction, including news of Martin Harris dying in a shootout and the interview in which Kate claims Jeanette saw her in Martin's basement and didn't say anything about it.   

June 26, 1995

Kate uses an anonymous abduction victim chatroom to confess that she hasn't been totally honest. Kate and her parents then learn that Jeanette is suing her for defamation.

July 4, 1995

Jeanette's lawyer tells her she has to be likable, so Jeanette practices being likable by mimicking girls on TV. She then breaks into Martin's house and finds Vince there, and she tells him she's been to the house many times because she likes the thrill of it. Vince then lies to the lawyers when questioned, saying he doesn't know if Jeanette ever went back to the house.

July 15, 1995

Kate and her family find a note that says "liar" on the door before the annual hunting trip. On the trip, Kate tells a ghost story that sounds an awful lot like her abduction, but she uses the name Annabelle. After her lawyers tell her that her story has to be consistent, she goes back to listen to her therapy tapes and hears herself talk about meeting someone named "Annabelle," who she doesn't remember.   

July 29, 1995

Kate drags Mallory to the carnival to hopefully find Jeanette in the dunk tank, but they find Jamie instead. He admits that he did kiss Jeanette the summer before, and apologizes for lying. Kate and Mallory then go and destroy Martin's headstone. Angela and Jeanette bond at the bar.  


Cruel Summer: Week 5

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Cruel Summer airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Freeform.