You’ve been warned: there are spoilers for the second season of ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ ahead
Anyone who grew up during the late 2000s is well acquainted with the idea of shipping wars. We are, after all, the generation of Team Edward and Team Jacob, Team Peeta and Team Gale, Team Stefan and Team Damon. It’s clear that The Summer I Turned Pretty has taken notes and has leaned hard into the concept of love triangles, even having its own characters take sides in the Conrad and Jeremiah shipping wars—Belly’s best friend Taylor is enthusiastically “Team Jellyfish”, while Belly’s brother Steven thinks Conrad is the right guy for her. It’s clear that the viewers are supposed to pick a side just as enthusiastically.
Admittedly, it’s all a bit too on the nose, and I couldn’t help but cringe as Taylor and Steven spent a chunk of the season two finale arguing about which “ship” is correct. But here’s the thing: I love drama, so of course, like both Taylor and Steven, I have an opinion on who Belly should end up with anyway.
So let’s talk about this past season and why Jeremiah might be Belly’s choice for now, but he isn’t her forever.
Belly Constantly Compares Jeremiah To Conrad
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“I spent so much of my life dreaming about what it would be like to be with Conrad,” Belly tells Jeremiah in the penultimate episode of the Summer I Turned Pretty’s second season. “But dreams aren’t real, and now I want something real. I want you.”
This is how the two ended up making out on Conrad’s car. While Belly wore Conrad’s sweatshirt. While they waited for Conrad to get out of his final. And where, ultimately, they were interrupted by a crestfallen Conrad.
It’s… not the ideal profession of love. Somehow, in trying to convey that she wants to date Jeremiah, she still makes it all about Conrad. Worse, she’s not even saying, “Oh, I like you better,” she’s literally just saying, “Conrad is who I always dreamed of being with, but you’re a more realistic option.” Oof. And while Belly can say that she didn’t do it to make Conrad jealous, which I can believe, I think there’s something to be said about the fact that she just so happened to make her move when she was surrounded by things that reminded her of him, even subconsciously. At the end of the day, she still sees Jeremiah as a choice between two different things—not the correct choice in his own right.
So yes, Belly does choose Jeremiah, even knowing how Conrad feels about her—but her next scene with Conrad seems to imply that the choice was made in part because she felt hurt by his past actions instead of simply feeling 100% about Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s Actions Weren’t As Selfless As They May Have Seemed
Jeremiah spent a lot of the season trying to distance himself from Belly, despite his feelings. But here’s the thing: It’s clear that a lot of that came from the fact that he had been hurt by Belly in the past and not because, oh, I don’t know, Belly is literally his brother’s ex-girlfriend.
Look, I get it, Jeremiah did kind of have his feelings played with by Belly in the first season when she kissed him but ended up choosing his brother. I’m not going to pretend that’s not a slap in the face. That being said, Jeremiah also tried to position himself as the more mature and valiant option here, though he’s no less selfish than he claims Conrad is.
He criticizes his brother for not treating Belly well (for… forgetting to bring a corsage to prom while his mother was dying?) while being just as thoughtless toward Conrad—because, looking at the timeline, it’s only been a few months (at most) since Conrad and Belly broke up, and it’s only been one month since their mother passed away. What’s worse, Jeremiah and Conrad had a late-season heart-to-heart promising that they’ll start communicating with one another about the important things, only for Jeremiah to immediately turn around and make a move on Conrad’s ex—when even Conrad had the decency to wait months to date Belly (and even asked for Jeremiah’s permission!) after the two kissed (and didn’t even officially date!).
So sure, Jeremiah may be positing himself as the chivalrous choice, but the facts don’t lie: Conrad is much more thoughtful in his actions toward everyone, not just the girl he wants to date.
Jeremiah Uses Belly To Get Back At Conrad
I’m not saying that Jeremiah’s feelings for Belly (and his want to date her) are directly related to his beef with Conrad, but that doesn’t change the fact that Jeremiah clearly has a bad relationship with his brother and isn’t afraid to use Belly as ammo. Just look at their confrontation during the party at the beach house: “When things aren’t perfect, instead of trying to fix it, he just decides to throw it away,” Jeremiah says. “It’s not just the house—you did it to Belly, too.”
It’s a pretty low blow, especially since Jeremiah clearly doesn’t know what happened in Conrad and Belly’s relationship and is making a bunch of assumptions. Even Belly is frustrated at Jeremiah for bringing her into an argument that is clearly about something else entirely. ANd it’s worse when you remember that Conrad spent most of his relationship with Belly also grappling with the grief of knowing his mother was dying. Not to mention Jeremiah was there when Conrad’s college roommate talked about how badly Conrad handled their breakup and his subsequent heartbreak—Conrad was struggling, but Jeremiah still uses a particularly painful moment in his life just to try to win an argument.
I don’t know about you, but if I were Belly, that would be a huge turnoff. Who knows how this will come up again in the future, but it’s not off to a great start!
Jeremiah Sees His Relationship With Belly As A Competition
The way Jeremiah handles his brother’s past relationship is telling, more so than one might originally think after watching the scene. Jeremiah’s relationship with Belly is directly tied with her relationship with Conrad—not only is he constantly jealous of Belly’s affections toward Conrad, but he is constantly comparing Conrad’s actions to what he thinks he would have done in the situation. Even his hesitation to date Belly at the end is less selfless than it may sound when you realize that his stipulation to finally make things official with Belly is for her to choose him over Conrad, even knowing Conrad’s feelings for her.
That’s part of what makes Conrad’s relationship with Belly so much more compelling—it’s not about Jeremiah. He is still respectful toward his brother—he waits months to date Belly in hopes that Jeremiah will be less heartbroken about it and then asks for his blessing before making a move—but ultimately, Conrad’s relationship with Belly is about Conrad and Belly.
So sure, Belly may have chosen Jeremiah, just as he hoped, but it doesn’t bode well for the future that his standards for the relationship is basically just “better than Conrad.” It also lends to an incredibly unstable relationship dynamic going forward, especially since Conrad will clearly be part of their lives going forward, giving plenty of opportunities for Jeremiah’s insecurities to flare up.
Jeremiah And Belly’s Relationship Lacks The Depth She Wants
Steven said it best when he said, “Jere’s easier. But that’s the whole thing. You know, he doesn’t challenge Belly. Not the same way Conrad does. She is deeper than a lot of people give her credit for. She deserves someone who sees all the amazing, complex things that she has to offer.”
“And you think that’s Conrad?” Taylor asks him.
“I know it’s not Jeremiah,” he replies.
It’s true—Belly’s relationship with Conrad was always about depth. It was about that soulmate feeling, like you’re tied to someone by an invisible string. The two of them were able to spend hours a day talking on the phone about anything and everything and connecting over the immensity of what they felt about the world. Jeremiah, on the other hand, seems less concerned about deeper conversations. Even his relationship with Belly seems much more physical than emotional—we never really see him and Belly interacting in any way that isn’t just surface-level flirty, and though that isn’t inherently bad, it clearly isn’t what Belly values.
Conrad Is Belly’s Sun—And It’s Unlikely To Change That Quickly
Belly tries to convince Jeremiah that everything has changed since the summer before, but the truth is that she had been in love with Conrad all her life and constantly let her feelings for him eclipse everything else. And while her current heartbreak might make her resent Conrad to a certain extent, it also seems unlikely that her feelings for him can be squashed that quickly.
Because here’s the thing about shipping wars: More often than not, it’s clear who the winner is going to be. There’s always that one relationship that has a gravity that doesn’t compare to any of the others. After all, Bella always knew Edward was it for her, and Belly has always known it would be Conrad—because no matter what happens, they are infinite.