Cruel Summer Season 2’s Lisa Yamada on All Things Parker and The Y2K Murder Mystery


The Y2K is back, and it’s full of secrets!

For Freeform’s upcoming Cruel Summer Season 2, a new time-jumping murder mystery will keep us hooked as it spans over three years. New twists, new romances, and a new cast of characters (or more like suspects!) are just a few pieces making up this salacious and thrilling mystery.

Queen Bee Parker, who Lisa Yamada plays, is one of the suspects in the story. Much of the plot and characters are still a mystery, but if it’s anything like Cruel Summer Season 1, we’re in for a wild ride.

Below, we got the chance to chat with Yamada before the season premieres on June 5. We talked about all things Parker, some hints about what’s coming up in the new story, and her love of living the Y2K fantasy.

Check out the interview below!

Cruel Summer Season 2 Still

How does it feel to enter the world of Cruel Summer?

Oh, my God! Honestly, it was pretty daunting at first just because Cruel Summer Season 1 did so phenomenally, and there were some big shoes to fill.

It was really exciting! I love teen drama mystery, any murder mystery, and the True Crime genre.

It was fun to tap into that, for sure.

Lisa Yamada Headshot - Cruel Summer

With Cruel Summer Season 1, did you do a full rewatch and brush up before starting to film?

Yeah, I was a fan of the first season before even auditioning just because I had seen so many promos about it. And as I said, the True Crime genre is so up my alley, so I was like, “Okay, let me take a little peek.”

I ended up binge-watching it in one night. I totally messed up my sleep schedule for the show. [Laughs]

When I booked the show and flew into Vancouver, I watched the entire season over again for a full-circle moment. And as you said, I wanted to brush up on the tone.

What kinda show it really is and the three timelines, things like that.

Lisa Yamada on All American

Cruel Summer Season 1 was such a binge-able must-watch series in 2021. Why do you think people fell in love with the concept of the show?

I think that the concept of Cruel Summer is just so refreshing, so unique, and so new.

I’m not aware of any other show that tells three different storylines at the same time. And there are flashbacks, and it goes back and forth.

So, I feel like it was a new concept and a unique, challenging risk that the production took.

Parker - Cruel Summer

And it worked out amazingly well.

The proof is in the pudding!

It’s amazing for a consumer to watch something that hasn’t been done before. It’s interactive too.

I think that really tied into the show being successful, for sure.

Lisa Yamada Photo - Cruel Summer

For Cruel Summer Season 2, since there’s a new love triangle and mystery, what can fans expect from this new season?

Well, on Cruel Summer Season 1, the two female leads didn’t interact with each other much. But in this season, they’re very much in every scene together.

There’s gonna be a lot more in-your-face drama; it’s really confrontational. There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns.

A lot of pointing the blame at a different person in each episode.

I think this season is a bit more high-stakes than the first one.

The Hidden Truth - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 3

Cruel Summer Season 2 is going back to the Y2K timeline and aesthetic. What was your favorite part of seeing that time shift?

My favorite part was definitely the wardrobe and the hair and makeup team. We had the most amazing wardrobe and hair and makeup department. They were so collaborative!

And my character is a more grunge Y2K-type. She is tightly influenced by Gwen Stefani in her “No Doubt” era and Avril Lavigne in her “Sk8er Boi” era.

So, I had like entire Pinterest boards saved of different hairstyles and makeup that I wanted to recreate.

Vince - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 1

Every morning I would step into the Hair & Makeup trailer, and they’d say, “Okay, so what do you have in mind for today?”

And I’d say, “Well, let me just show you these huge Pinterest boards that I have gathered for you!”

And we’d just come up with funky styles.

It was fun to tap into that era, especially because I wasn’t born during Y2K.

Young Love - Tall - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 1

So, you touched on your character a little bit. Parker has been a bit of a mystery so far. Could you share a little background on your character?

Parker is a bit of a … bitch, I would say. [Laughs]

She’s not very personable or likable at the beginning. She’s the leader of the pack.

She’s giving very much Regina George in Mean Girls in a sense where she is the pack leader, as I mentioned. But she has the best outfits, the best hair, and the best makeup.

We Used To Be Friends - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 1

Even though she’s not very personable, as the season progresses, you’ll start to see she’s just a teenage girl dealing with her insecurities and seeking male validation.

I don’t think she’s had the best female friendships, so she doesn’t know what it’s like to be a girl’s girl and be kind.

I think at the beginning of Cruel Summer Season 2, people will be a little standoffish with her.

But as the season progresses, people will start liking her.

Public Enemy - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 5

Did you have fun playing a more villainous, bitchy character, or do you prefer when they get a redemption arc?

I liked tapping into the mean girl character, for sure. [Laughs]

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t think I come off that way in real life.

So, it was fun to tap into that darker side of me.

Humble Pie - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 5

And it was really fun to see the redemption arc just because when you’re playing a character, you have to be an advocate for her.

Even if other people don’t like her, you have to find reasons why you like her. And why you see the world in the way she does.

It was fun for me to play her and prove everyone wrong.

She’s just a sweet girl who has her demons.

Reliving The Past - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 5

When you were prepping for Parker, what was your favorite thing to bring to her?

I think her demeanor was super fun. Like, the way she carries herself and the way she talks is so different from my everyday life.

And just like I said, being able to channel my Y2K fantasy was super fun. And, you know, playing around with her looks.

The main part, though, was being able to play a role so different than me.

It's Just A Little Crush - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 7

Shifting gears back to Cruel Summer’s concept. Cruel Summer jumps between three years, and how your character changes in those years. Did you find the process easy or challenging during these three periods?

It definitely felt like an acting class boot camp. We didn’t film the show in chronological order.

So like, we didn’t film the first year in the beginning and the second year after. We were filming all the timelines at the same time.

Sometimes, we’d have days where the first scene in the morning, we’re in the last timeline. And then, we’d have to switch back our hair and makeup to how our characters were two timelines ago.

It was challenging, but it’s really fun because, as an actor, you don’t get to face these new obstacles, if that makes sense. So, it was super fun to be able to challenge myself in that way and tap into different versions of the character all in a day’s work.

Martin's Key - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 8

With the premiere on June 5, is there anything you can tease for fans eagerly excited to see what will happen?

Well, it’s going to be a lot of mystery! The viewers are gonna be on such a fun whirlwind of a whodunnit story.

Like each episode, you’ll be pointing the finger at someone new.

And then, at the last two minutes of the episode, you’re gonna be like, “Oh wait, everything that I thought I knew was wrong. Who is it now?!”

Video Tape - Tall - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 8

So, that’s going to be super fun.

Also, there are a lot of couples and relationships in this show. It’s gonna be interesting to see what couples the audience roots for.

Even though it is a darker show, there are a lot of sweet elements and humor in it. I think that’s gonna be fun.

Cruel Summer Season 2 premieres Monday, June 5 at 9/8c on Freeform. You can watch Cruel Summer online to catch up on all the past drama.

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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