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Cruel Summer Executive Producer on 'Truly Shocking' Finale, What Fans Can Expect for Season 2

·4 min read

This article contains spoilers from Cruel Summer's season 1 finale.

Now that Cruel Summer's rollercoaster ride of a debut season is over, it's time for fans to set their sights on another twisty story in the show's upcoming sophomore outing.

"We're just starting to talk about season 2," Tia Napolitano, an executive producer on the series, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "I know that nonlinear storytelling is such a big part of why this show is so fun and so we're going to keep that. I'm not sure in what way."

Responding to a report from Deadline about whether the show could "return with a new story with the same characters" or could use "the same storytelling device featuring a whole new cast of characters," Napolitano says that "anything is possible" as the people behind the scenes are "talking about all of the possibilities."

"Part of the fun of season 1 was it was surprising," she explains. "So, we are hoping to surprise again."

RELATED: Cruel Summer Renewed for Season 2 at Freeform

Bill Matlock/Freeform

Napolitano does have hopes for the thriller's second season, however. "I really hope that we can tackle another important hard issue like we did with grooming. It's opened up a lot of conversations and it's been so well received and sparked a lot of interesting debates. We're hoping to do that again," she says.

"It's a wild mystery that we laid down in episode one. I want to find something equally as wild," she continues. "So, [we are] looking into other stories that feel kind of ripped from the headlines, the weird things that have gone on and captivated people and [we] want to pull in something equally crazy for season 2."

Cruel Summer premiered on Freeform in April. Created by Bert V. Royal, the drama follows popular Texas high school student Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) as she suddenly disappears and her awkward, outcast classmate Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) steps into her former role. When Kate returns after being abducted by the school's new vice principal, Martin Harris (Blake Lee), Kate accuses Jeanette of being aware of her kidnapping and failing to report it - an allegation that leads Jeanette to become one of the most-hated people in America.

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Bill Matlock/Freeform

The cast also includes Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes and Brooklyn Sudano.

The buzzy teen series, which has gone on to become Freeform's most-watched show ever, was renewed for a second season ahead of Tuesday's season 1 finale. The entire season showcased two different truths, being Jeanette and Kate's, unraveling over the course of three consecutive years in the mid-1990s.

In the final episode, everything appears to be wrapped up as Kate publicly declares that she wrongfully accused Jeanette, and Jeanette has a chance to clear her name on live TV. However, in the final scene, viewers learn that Jeanette discovered Kate's whereabouts in 1994 while breaking into Martin's house one day.

Despite finding Kate, Jeanette chose to leave her classmate trapped in Martin's basement. She then flashed a soft smile to the camera as a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" played.

RELATED: Chiara Aurelia Says Finding Out How Everything Comes Together on Cruel Summer 'Is Worth the Wait'

"We came to it sort of as we were shooting and developing the show. We wanted to come up with the most inevitable, most surprising ending and we just challenged ourselves to keep at it until we found something that was truly shocking," Napolitano tells PEOPLE. "As we started pitching, one person and the next person, everyone either gasped or screamed [at the idea of Jeanette discovering Kate]. And we thought, 'That's the right ending.'"

"On top of that, it adds this layer of additional complexity to Jeanette that was really attractive to us because Cruel Summer, on many levels, is also a character study about our characters and their psychology. It made Jeanette more complex in a very appealing way," she adds.

Matt Petit via Getty

As for Kate's own ending with Martin - following a season-long look at the affects of her being groomed by him - Napolitano says that Kate fatally shot Martin as a way to "save herself" from him and his abuse while giving her "some agency."

All in all, Napolitano hopes that the fans' biggest takeaway is that they learn to not "judge a book by its cover."

"People are very quick to judge," Napolitano says. "They've made up their minds early on in many cases about Jeanette, about Kate [and] especially about Mallory. I think by the end of episode 10, a lot of people's initial assumptions will be undermined and their allegiances will shift after the end."

Cruel Summer's entire first season can be streamed on Hulu.

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