How Jessica Biel Helped the Cruel Summer Cast Capture the Show’s Y2K Setting

Cruel Summer stars Lexi Underwood and Sadie Stanley detailed to E! News how executive producer and “early 2000s It girl" Jessica Biel helped them master the Y2K aesthetic.

By Meaghan Kirby May 29, 2023 12:30 PMTags
Watch: How Jessica Biel Provided Y2K Inspiration for Cruel Summer Cast

When it came to finding late-‘90s inspiration, the cast of Cruel Summer was in, uh, 7th Heaven

Because while Lexi Underwood and Sadie Stanley—the stars of the anthology series' Y2K-set second season—may not have been alive for the turn of the millennium, they had executive producer Jessica Biel to guide them. 

"It definitely helps the fact that she's an early 2000s It girl," Lexi exclusively told E! News of the actress, who rose to fame on the aforementioned '90s family drama. "But just being able to bounce ideas off of her and just everyone else that was around during that time—that knew what it was like being a teen during that time—it was great."

In fact, she was a major source of inspiration.

"Pinterest specifically was such a crutch for me, like all the pics of Jess and all the other girls during that time," the Little Fires Everywhere alum added, "it just gave me so much inspiration to immerse myself in that time period."

Jessica Biel Through the Years

The cast of the Freeform series—which follows the intense friendship between a trio of teens and the mystery that ensues—didn't have to go far to get a sense of the fashion either, thanks to trends from the era making a resurgence.

"The whole Y2K fashion, everything from that time, was definitely coming back," Sadie admitted, "and so seeing that it was going to be set in Y2K I was like, ‘bet, perfect, amazing, can't wait.'"

But it wasn't all butterfly clips and denim overalls. Especially as the series' three timelines allowed the cast to explore different ‘90s styles—from casual chic to goth. And while it was "definitely a process" locking down all the different looks, Sadie noted show they also reflected the emotional character arcs.


"We have a big job to do because they have to be very distinct, very different, not only for the audience but also for me," she continued. "It's helpful for me as an actress to be able to differentiate these three different timelines—what Megan is presenting on the outside reflects what's going on inside—that was also really helpful."

As for the most exciting aesthetic? "I got to do a third timeline look with black makeup and the eyebrow piercing and the slicked back hair that I would never do normally," Sadie added. "So it was really cool to try that."

To learn about the Cruel Summer cast's favorite—and least favorite—‘90s music and their own ideas for season three, watch the full interview above. 

Cruel Summer returns for a two-episode premiere on June 5 at 9pm with episodes releasing weekly at 10pm and available to watch on Hulu the following day.

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