According to sources, Royal departed the series after the pilot finished filming last year due to creative differences. He was still credited as the creator and executive producer for Season 1 of the hit drama, but it is unclear what his credit will be on Season 2 at this time. Tia Napolitano remains onboard the series as executive producer and showrunner.
“Cruel Summer” received a second season order back in June. Starring Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes, Blake Lee and Brooklyn Sudano, the series centers on the story of two young women across three summers — the popular Kate Wallis, who mysteriously goes missing, and the nerdy Jeanette Turner, who is accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance. “Cruel Summer” is produced by eOne. Napolitano executive produces alongside Royal and Iron Ocean Productions’ Jessica Biel and Michelle Purple.
At the time of its renewal, Freeform claimed “Cruel Summer” averaged multiplatform+35 viewership of 6.8 million viewers per episode, making it the network’s most watched show ever. The show is the first scripted series to premiere under Tara Duncan’s tenure since she joined the Disney-owned young adult cabler a year ago.
“Cruel Summer” has proven popular with critics and fans alike, with Season 1 holding a 91% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In his review for Variety, Daniel D’Addario wrote:
“Within strictly delineated boundaries, ‘Cruel Summer’ finds a way to tell a story that moves in unexpected directions. Thanks to an agile cast and a willingness to push for the unexpected response, ‘Cruel Summer’ ends up a pleasant surprise: A show with a grabby premise but also a great deal on its mind.
The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of Royal’s exit from the series.