I admit, I never read a Nancy Drew or a Hardy Boys book in my life. My only connection to the stories was from watching the TV series The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1979. But what I do know about the heroine is that up until now she has always been portrayed as a smart, sassy, tomboyish teen girl with a strong moral fiber that has always been appropriate for young school-age sleuths. However, the CW, the same network that ruined your memories of Archie and the gang with Riverdale, have done it again. While some parents will disagree with me, this Nancy Drew is not safe for kids.
Within minutes of the pilot episode, Nancy is seen finishing up a sexual encounter with Ned “Nick” Nickerson, a young man she barely even knows. “I never do this…” she says to which he replies, “You say that every time.” And then mentions that she never asks him many questions about his life, and she says, “What can I say? Girls love mystery.”
I’m not a parent of a teen girl, but if I was, I wouldn’t want this Nancy to be a role model for her or my sons for that matter. Granted, this Nancy is older and out of high school, but little girls still look up to her, don’t they? It was only a few months ago that Warner Bros. released a new squeaky clean Nancy Drew movie for home video. The pilot episode even references The Hidden Staircase mystery. Fans of that movie would surely want to watch the new show. Boy will they be surprised. And Nancy isn’t the only one with questionable behavior. Another young woman is shown having an affair with a married man and another is confused about her sexuality. What do these elements have to do with solving mysteries? And why does Hollywood think that it is so important to show young couples having sex when it isn’t important to the story?
Now, I don’t expect Nancy Drew to cater to Christians or even portray Christian values, but at the same time, would it be so awful if they did? Fortunately, there is a lot more to this show but not enough to warrant watching it even as older adults. It just isn’t very good.
This time around small town girl Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) has put her plans to attend college on hold after her mother’s death after battling a long illness, probably cancer. The sadness of her mother’s death also caused Nancy to give up sleuthing. For a little while anyway.
Living in Horseshoe Bay, Maine, Nancy works The Claw seafood diner working under the leadership of George (Leah Lewis), her old nemesis from high school and “major holder of grudges.” Her coworkers include Bess Marvin (Maddison Jaizani) a mysterious girl who says that she is taking a gap year to live with her rich aunt in her mansion and Ace (Alex Saxon), the restaurant’s dishwasher who sneaks food and wine when no one is looking. (I don’t know who is cooking the food here. They are never shown.) Ned Nickerson (Tunji Kasim) works at the auto shop next door and often goes to the diner for dinner.
Business at the restaurant is dead (pun intended) due to the town’s annual festival where a “sea queen” is crowned each year. But thanks to a mysterious death of the sea queen from 20 years earlier, the event is filled with superstition and ghost stories. However, on this night, there is a shady group of men that come to the diner and the night ends with a murder leaving Nancy and company as suspects. So instead of solving other mysteries, Nancy will be busy working on solving her own mystery which somehow includes the mysterious death of that former sea queen.
As with other versions, Nancy lives with her lawyer father Carson Drew. Freddie Prince Jr, was supposed to play this role, but after the pilot was shot, he was replaced for former teen heartthrob from Party of Five, Scott Wolf. Instead of having a close relationship, Nancy holds a grudge against her father for some reason and it doesn’t help that he has started a romance with Detective Karen Hart (Alvina August), a friend of the family.
I’ve received access to the first two episodes of the show. Although it has its moments (including a scene that features a cameo from Pamela Sue Martin who played Nancy in the 1970s TV series) and is stylistically shot, it is pretty much a mess. Sure, Nancy aims to solve these crimes with the help of her friends, but it seems that everyone in the cast holds some kind of secret including dear old dad. Some plot points are silly and I’m not sure how wise it is to let the audience in on the clues before Nancy has time to find them. Some characters are very stereotypical like the police chief not wanting Nancy poking around in his business or the thug who walks and talks like a thug. And honestly, I’m not sure why they thought Wolf would be a good addition to the cast. He doesn’t appear natural at all as a father figure. But the biggest mistake is making this Nancy so angry and off-putting. McMann does a good job as the lead, but her character is resistant to getting close to others and yet she relies on them. I get that the showrunners were going for a different version of the Drew character, but this one isn’t very likable. Still, if you’re not bothered by Riverdale, this show won’t faze you.
Nancy Drew airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.