The Summer I Turned Pretty, which debuted in June 2022, features Briney’s character Conrad Fisher — a brooding and emotionally unavailable bad boy — as one of two main love interests for series protagonist Isabel “Belly” Conklin (Lola Tung). The teen rom-com is based on a book trilogy of the same name by showrunner Jenny Han and follows Belly through her adventures in Cousins Beach as she figures out if her heart truly lies with Conrad or his brother, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno).
Conrad is the unmistakable heartthrob of the series, the boy Belly has endlessly swooned for since she was a young girl. Despite her endless flip-flopping, it feels inevitable that Belly’s heart will always belong to Conrad — something Briney didn’t quite understand when he first stepped into the role.
“When I first read the book and when the script started coming in, I was like, ‘This dude kind of sucks,’” he revealed during a June interview with POPSUGAR. “He’s really rude and he’s not telling people how he feels, and that’s why he’s in all this trouble.”
As time went on, however, the Connecticut native realized that Conrad, who is holding onto secrets about both his dad’s infidelity and mom’s recent cancer diagnosis, is just a teenage boy trying to deal with his own emotions.
“He’s just young and … just trying to keep it together for the people he loves,” the actor explained. “Yes, he owes an apology to some people in the world, but he’s 17. He can make mistakes. He’s going to continue to make mistakes, and he’s just hurt.”
According to Briney, while the show may center itself around the romantic tension between characters, the cast themselves are more like family than anything else.
“It was such a blessing to be able to make those actual friendships because they gave us time to get to know each other, spend time with each other, and actually go to the beach and get up to trouble with each other,” he told POPSUGAR. “By the first day [of shooting], it felt like we’d known each other for years.”
For his own romantic life, Briney is much more decided than his onscreen counterpart. He’s been dating Isabela Rose Machado since 2021, and the two walked their first red carpet at The Summer I Turned Pretty premiere in New York City earlier this month.
“Get you some friends like these 😍,” Briney wrote alongside a photo of him and Machado hugging at the event.
The two have kept their relationship relatively low-key but occasionally take to social media to show their affection for one another.
In June, the twosome celebrated their one-year anniversary together. Briney wrote via Instagram at the time: “A whole year?! I could never want anything else,” alongside a sweet snap of the pair. Machado, for her part, chose to honor their “feelingsaversary,” in May, writing via Instagram, “ So glad we kiss now,” to which Briney replied, “I never want it any other way 💘💘💘.”
Scroll through for everything to know about Briney’s real-life “Belly”: