Skip To Content

    11 Theories About What TF Actually Happened Between Kate And Jeanette On "Cruel Summer"

    Please don't pull a Pretty Little Liars.

    WARNING: Massive spoilers ahead!!!

    Note: This post contains mentions of grooming and abuse.

    So, my latest TV obsession is, without a doubt, Freeform's Cruel Summer. I literally cannot stop thinking about this show and all of the ways it could go.

    Kate and Jamie in the pilot
    Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

    If you're here, I'm going to assume you already know the gist of the show. But the basic premise is that the story takes place over three different summers (1993, 1994, and 1995) and follows what happens when Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) is accused of being connected to the disappearance of her classmate Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt).

    Jeanette and Kate running into each other at the mall in the pilot
    Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Anyhow!!! There are tons of theories about what really went down. Here are 11 fan theories I can't stop thinking about:

    🚨Last chance not to get spoiled!!! You've been warned!🚨

    1. Theory: There's a double-sided mirror in Martin's house — Kate could see Jeanette, but Jeanette couldn't see Kate.

    Jeanette looking at mirrors in Martin's house

    Twitter user maggiejmorton proposed this theory: "Hence the tag line 'The truth is how you see it.' They’re both right."

    My verdict: I was initially totally sold on this theory, but since Kate said she and Jeanette made eye contact through the window, I don't really think it holds up anymore. Plus, there's the fact that someone probably would have discovered the mirror when the house was being investigated.

    2. Theory: Mallory framed Jeanette.

    Jeanette hugs Mallory in 1994

    This Reddit comment theorizes that Mallory took Jeanette's necklace and planted it in Martin's house so she would get caught for breaking in. While she was leaving the house, Kate saw Mallory on her bike and mistook her for Jeanette (remember how Mallory accidentally took Jeanette's bike on the night of the garden party?).

    My verdict: This is actually my favorite theory so far. However, even if Kate saw Mallory, I don't think Mallory actually saw her. I'm also less suspicious of Mallory's involvement in general after reading her actor Harley Quinn Smith's recent interview.

    3. Theory: Jamie and Jeanette had sex in Martin's house.

    Jamie waking Jeanette up on her birthday in 1994
    Bill Matlock / Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Another Reddit comment theorizes that Jeanette took Jamie to Martin's house for their first time and that the reason Jamie later punched her was because he thought Jeanette took him there knowing Kate was trapped in the basement.

    My verdict: I actually totally believe this one. However, even if they had sex at Martin's house, I'm not sure that it holds any real significance to the central "Did Jeanette see Kate?" mystery.

    4. Theory: Kate actually saw Jamie, not Jeanette.

    Kate thinks she sees Jeanette in the dunk tank, it turns out to actually be Jamie

    Some fans think this scene in Episode 5 is a clue that alludes to Jamie actually being the one Kate saw in the basement. Some people think Jamie might have seen Kate and feels guilty; others think only Kate saw Jamie. It could possibly be tied into the above theory about Jamie and Jeanette having sex at Martin's.

    My verdict: I'm torn on this one. On one hand, this scene could be foreshadowing of Jamie's involvement, but on the other hand, it might just be a red herring. Also, while 1995 Jamie and Jeanette may have similar-ish hairstyles, they looked nothing alike in 1993 or 1994.

    5. Theory: Martin set Jeanette up.

    Martin tells Kate everyone has given up on looking for her and that Jamie is now dating Jeanette

    This Reddit comment theorizes that Jeanette dropped her necklace in Martin's house at some point, leading him to realize that she'd been breaking in. He then showed Kate the necklace and turned her against Jeanette, possibly planting the idea in her head that Jeanette saw her and did nothing. Another possible motivation could be that Martin despised Jeanette for what she did to Gideon at the carnival, which possibly reminded him of one of his own experiences with rejection.

    My verdict: This actually makes a lot of sense to me, and it totally fits with Martin manipulating Kate and possibly her memory. It's also worth noting that Martin told Kate in Episode 7 that Jamie was dating Jeanette now — this could have helped fuel Kate's idea that Jeanette was trying to "steal her life."

    6. Theory: Martin was also grooming Jeanette.

    Martin talking to Jeanette at the carnival

    Another Reddit theory alleges that Jeanette was also one of Martin's victims and that he had invited her to his house. While at Martin's, Jeanette could have seen Kate but been manipulated into staying quiet.

    My verdict: So I definitely think Martin has groomed other teenage girls before, but I don't necessarily think Jeanette was one of them. The scrunchie thing at the carnival gave me creepy vibes for sure, but I just didn't get the sense that anything more happened between Martin and Jeanette.

    7. Theory: Annabelle was Kate's secret baby.

    Kate writing "Anabelle" over and over

    A few fans have proposed the idea that Kate could have been pregnant while she was trapped in the basement, either by Martin or Jamie, and that the baby (who either died or was secretly placed for adoption) was named Annabelle.

    My verdict: Sorry guys, this one is way too wild for me. I don't know who Annabelle is, but I don't think a pregnancy is involved in the story at all — it just feels too far-fetched and out of nowhere.

    8. Theory: Cindy was involved in Kate's kidnapping.

    Cindy and Jeanette chatting with Kate and her mom

    This Reddit comment theorizes that Jeanette's mom, Cindy, wanted Kate out of the picture. "[Cindy] wanted Jeanette to be as popular as she was. But even with Jeanette’s new hair, contacts, clothes, she couldn’t be popular while Kate was still there," Reddit user valkyriethebadass wrote. "Jeanette’s mom and Kate’s mom have some animosity between them, so maybe she wanted Kate’s mom to be punished as well."

    My verdict: It's an interesting theory and would certainly be a dark twist, but after Episode 6, I just don't see Cindy outright being a villain and think this idea is too far-fetched. However, I do think there's more to Cindy and Joy's (Kate's mom) relationship than meets the eye.

    9. Theory: Annabelle is Kate's secret twin or split personality.


    There have been numerous theories floating around about how Annabelle might actually be a split personality of some sort, or even Kate's twin. I mean...this is the same network that brought us Pretty Little Liars.

    My verdict: DEAR GOD, NO. I would actually be so mad if either of these turned out to be true.

    10. Theory: Angela is an undercover detective and is only dating Greg to get close to Jeanette.

    Angela at the bar in Episode 6

    This Reddit comment theorizes that it was no coincidence that Angela hit Greg's car in the video store parking lot that day. "Everyone else in town is convinced that Jeanette saw poor Kate Wallis in the basement of Martin’s home," Reddit user Mutedfloral wrote. "Knowing this, why would she willingly get close with Greg and Jeanette’s family? Everyone in this town has secrets; she’s not exempt."

    My verdict: This is an interesting theory, but I don't know that I believe it — who exactly would she be working for? Would Kate's mom have hired her as a private investigator or something? I also honestly don't want it to be true because I actually really like Angela and want to believe she's sincere.

    11. Final theory: Either Jeanette or Kate is straight-up lying.


    There's also the simple answer: One of the girls is lying. Either Jeanette really did see Kate, or Kate actually made the Jeanette story up.

    My verdict: I honestly don't think the twist will be quite this simple. Although, if I had to choose from these two scenarios, I'd personally say Jeanette is the more likely of the two to be lying.

    There you have it, folks! There are only three episodes left of Season 1, and the finale is expected to answer all of the burning questions we have. In the meantime, I'll be sitting here trying to come up with more theories!

    "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" detective board meme captioned, "Me trying to connect the dots after every episode"

    Also, while we're here — what the heck happened to Ben?!

    What are YOUR theories? Tell us in the comments below!

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form