DEAD OF SUMMER- Episode 4: “Modern Love”

DOSposterAt the beginning of this episode, I felt a little uneasy as I watched the very touchy subject of gender identity unfold in what started to be a vanilla format. The story was going through the motions of lack of acceptance and misunderstanding, but I was extremely surprised to find myself getting very emotional at the end. While DEAD OF SUMMER is a horror show first, this episode proved to offer way more than expected.


We got to follow Drew this time around, played beautifully by Zelda Williams. Drew, we learn, was born Andrea and this was something his mother could never comprehend as he grew up. Despite masculine self portraits and the disappointment of his first period, Drew’s mother always shrugged off any notion that he might be transgender. I had to remind myself that DEAD OF SUMMER in set in the 80s as if that’s some sort of excuse for ignorance, but I’ve become so spoiled nowadays in a world that is more accepting than it was thirty something years ago. I’m not saying there aren’t bigots anymore, but I’m curious as what a transgender teen goes through now versus Drew’s story or if anything has really changed. It’s not up to me to decide how authentic one’s struggle is, but I suppose the tragic is what makes great television. The tragedy here isn’t that Drew’s mother abandoned him upon acceptance, but that his own hiding in the dark from the other counselors literally causes his secrets to haunt him.


Any horror fan watching will be reminded of Stephen King’s IT while watching this episode as a red balloon hasn’t had such a creep factor since then. Whenever Drew is confronted, little Andrea shows up holding said balloon taunting him. He can’t hide from the truth, but that fear of rejection makes his storyline so heartbreaking as Blair, the openly gay guy, expresses romantic interests to him. Only person that catches on to Drew’s secret is Jessie, but she has her own secret involving a DUI that I’m sure will be explored in a future episode.


Blair is persistent to Drew, even offering a David Bowie mixtape in hopes of gaining some kind of bravery and embracing himself. Eventually, Drew confesses to Blair, Andrea disappears, but Blair turns away realizing Drew is not who he is. As each episode focuses on different characters, I hope this just doesn’t sit in the back as it really shows off an emotional depth that a format like this can explore in genre television.


We finally got Deb and Joel going at it to no one’s surprise after she revealed that her ever so mysterious box held merely a sentimental book. This definitely felt like a huge disappointment to me as the previous episodes really built this box up to be some kind of Satanic link. Why else would she have it buried out in the middle of the woods?


We were reminded that this is indeed a horror TV show when Amy returns to camp after being struck by lightning, seemingly OK now. Something calls her out to the lake and soon she is being embraced by some kind of giant monster hand that rises out of the water. She looks at ease, but Garrett cuts this short despite not seeing what was actually going on. When he steps in, Amy doesn’t remember a thing. Not even the kiss she planted on him for a jealous Jessie to see.


The show is picking up momentum and discovering its own identity, not unlike Drew. Developing interesting characters could really drive DEAD OF SUMMER into a cult hit, helping a younger audience get introduced to horror in acceptable doses.


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