Friday, April 23, 2021

‘Supernatural’ Meets Scooby: Why ‘Nancy Drew’ Should Be at the Top of Your Watchlist

If you’re looking for a new show to watch in the wake of Supernatural‘s final season, have we got the show you’re looking for. Nancy Drew is a horror/mystery/teen drama hybrid with a Drew Crew to rival Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Scooby Gang. Following the title character as she copes with grief and ghosts in Horseshoe Bay, Maine, Nancy Drew is reminiscent of early season Supernatural in the way it uses horror to explore trauma while still remaining highly entertaining. From genuinely scary monsters to incredible cast chemistry, the series is a thrill ride that will have you staying up well past your bedtime to finish it all (and not being able to sleep afterwards). Here’s just a few of the many reasons why Nancy Drew should be at the top of your watchlist.

Haunting Monsters and Excellent Production Quality

The CW.

Anyone familiar with Nancy Drew knows to expect some mysteries and tense situations, but this show takes the old concept of the crime solving sleuth and cranks it up several notches by introducing spine chilling supernatural elements. Season 1 is all about solving the mysterious death of a ghost who haunts Nancy, and the show’s special effects and makeup departments really shine in every episode. Watching Nancy Drew is like settling in for an hour long horror/thriller movie every week. The Aglaeca of season 2, a terrifying sea creature intent on killing the Drew Crew, is a testament to the talent of the teams behind the show.

It’s also important to note that the production quality of the show doesn’t suffer because of the highly realistic monsters. The lighting, camera work, and sets all work together to perfectly encapsulate the constant air of mystery on Nancy Drew making every supernatural moment feel natural to the show. From arms reaching through walls to ghosts standing in a darkened corner at night, there are truly haunting supernatural elements that linger with you long after you turn off the television.

Intriguing Mysteries and Strong Plot Lines

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Whether it’s the season long mystery the team is solving or smaller problems introduced in each episode, each one is equally engaging. The twists and turns they encounter serve to strengthen the plot line and character development throughout the show. Where much of television focuses on plot, Nancy Drew often places more emphasis on character, thereby strengthening the season long story arc. Stories tie together in roundabout ways that are surprising, sure, but also actually make sense to the viewer. Nancy Drew also mercifully avoids gaping plot holes and will close up any that might appear with a quick one-liner or side mystery, meaning every new development feels intuitive to the story and to the characters. There are no shock value moments for the sake of shock value in Nancy Drew. Additionally, the incorporation of supernatural elements only enhances the story lines, the ambiance of Horseshoe Bay, and Nancy’s penchant for meddling.

A Compelling Lead

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Let’s face it: when you think “cool teen heroine,” you don’t typically think Nancy Drew. Sure, she’s iconic; she’s the face of a brand that has endured for 90 years. But her reputation as a goody-two-shoes who is prepared for anything precedes her, with the 2007 film adaptation Nancy Drew making her squeaky clean personality a major focus of the comedy. But on this show, Nancy is far from the cutesy crime solver we know from the novels or previous adaptations. She’s got anger issues, a stubborn attitude, and a tendency to push away the ones she loves most. In short, she’s flawed and has a lot to learn. But this doesn’t make her “unlikeable”; it makes her relatable in a way teen soap heroines are rarely allowed to be. Nancy makes some bad choices, she gets angry, she’s selfish on occasion — but none of that takes away from the love the audience has for her. Her flaws make her human and have the viewer rooting for her to figure it out. After all, who knows everything at 19? She also remains the emotional center of the show, tugging at heartstrings throughout the first two seasons. Played to perfection by Kennedy McMann, this Nancy commands the screen and remakes a classic character for a new generation.

Hilarity Ensues

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Nancy Drew might just be one of the funniest shows on television, despite the overall dramatic tone. There’s witty banter between the gang every episode, not to mention amazing buddy comedy moments when certain characters pair off for individual mysteries. The show knows which characters work well together even if it doesn’t seem like they will at first, like hacker Ace and city girl Bess or spoiled Ryan Hudson and Nancy’s well intentioned father Carson Drew. The cast’s chemistry combined with the writers’ ability to sneak in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it one liners makes Nancy Drew hilarious and adds levity to otherwise dark moments.

The Ultimate Scooby Gang

Image courtesy The CW.
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Nancy is joined on her mystery adventures by her misfit gang that is truly the ultimate teen Scooby gang. There’s George, a bit rough around the edges and fierce, but loves harder than she’d ever dare speak aloud. Bess is a bit of a kleptomaniac when it comes to shiny objects and harbors a secret in season 1 that keeps you guessing her true motives. Nick is the token “bad boy” at the start of the show, but we come to love him all the more for his passion to protect Nancy and the gang. Finally, there’s Ace, the genius hacker who comes into his own with this found family. Together they are the Drew Crew with not a single weak link between them. Every character is multilayered with a unique background that the show rightly dedicates time to developing. Each actor flawlessly step into the spotlight when given the opportunity making Nancy Drew the kind of show you can get lost in for hours at a time thanks to the engaging and relatable characters but also the cast’s ability to bring them to life in the tense and often emotionally charged moments of the show.

Subverting Tropes and Celebrating Diversity

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It’s no secret that most teen dramas follow a fairly predictable template. Part of what makes them the comfort food of television is their reliance on the tropes we know and love (like love triangles) and the presence of archetypal characters. Nancy Drew pays homage to its predecessors before promptly smashing those expectations. Each member of the Drew Crew starts off as a common teen soap character: the slacker, the wayward woman, the rich kid, the bad boy … the list goes on. But over the course of the season, Nancy Drew deconstructs each character. For example, we learn that Nick, the “criminal,” is a victim of a corrupt criminal justice system while George, the “ruined woman” for having an affair with a married man who’s older than her, begins to learn that what happened to her was wrong and not her fault. Additionally, the show is committed to diversity both in front of and behind the camera, a welcome change for the genre. Nancy Drew manages to elevate the teen drama to new heights, daring its competition to meet the high bar it sets.

Nancy Drew season 1 is available to watch in its entirety on HBO Max, with the first episodes of season 2 available for free on The CW app. New episodes premiere Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

Jules
Jules
I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.

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