Barons, Surviving Summer – surfing makes waves on TV

Surfing in 2022 is not how it was in its laid-back heyday but these shows express beautifully the thrill a great wave can still provide.

How did surfing, which prizes a laidback coastal lifestyle of philosophical oneness with the ocean, become so commercialised that 15-year-olds are already fretting about the trajectories of their professional careers?

That’s what I wondered as I watched Surviving Summer, a ten-part young-adult series made for Netflix by Joanna Werner (Dance Academy, The Newsreader) and Josh Mapleston (Beat Bugs, Maximum Choppage). To appeal to international audiences, the titular protagonist is sassy Brooklyn skateboarder Summer Torres (Sky Katz), who moves to the fictional Great Ocean Road surf town of Shorehaven.

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Mel Campbell is a freelance cultural critic and university lecturer who writes on film, TV, literature and media, with particular interests in history, costume, screen adaptations and futurism. Her first book was the nonfiction investigation Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit (2013), and she has co-written two romantic comedy novels with Anthony Morris: The Hot Guy (2017) and Nailed It (2019).