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How Did I Not Know that Nancy Drew Was a Badass?

When I was a child, my mother gave me a set of Nancy Drew books. Being rebellious and stupid, I didn’t read them. 

I do watch television, though, if you weren’t aware; it’s not like all I do on this website is complain about TV. I came across the new Nancy Drew television show on The CW, the fine channel that brought you the shitshow that is Riverdale, and I am now obsessed.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Nancy Drew was a badass? I am feeling left out, hurt, and deprived for all the years that I’ve been ragging on Nancy. Nancy Drew is the strong empowered woman I need when I pretend to do my readings. 

This is not your mama’s Nancy Drew, however — the show has a new depth as Nancy grapples with her mother’s death and having to give up her college plans. My one issue about Nancy is her college plans. She wants to go to Columbia… no, Nancy, that is not allowed. You are supposed to be a bold, beautiful Barnard babe.  

Nancy is revamped as a newly disillusioned waitress at a crab restaurant after her life completely crumbled around her. Her friends are in similar positions of coming to terms with futures that they did not see themselves in. So what do they do? Involve themselves in a murder investigation, as one does. 

The show revolves around Nancy solving the mystery of a murder in her town that is also haunted by the ghost of a dead prom queen, so it’s a lot from the get-go in all the right ways. 

My new favorite convertible-driving sleuth is so three-dimensional while remaining perfectly animated that it is hard not to like her. Also, the show is produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who did the likes of The O.C. and Gossip Girl, so they know how to prevent a show going completley off-kilter like another murder-solving show on the same network starring one Cole Sprouse. Whoops, I said it. 

Nancy is the type of feminine character that isn’t supposed to make girls feel bad about themselves. To the contrary, actually, as she struggles with her father, finances, and her plans not coming to fruition. She is fashionable but accessible, fierce but still empathizable. She doesn’t try to solve mysteries in designer clothing and gets messy when hiding in the bushes like a human being, which goes right to the core of the original character. Nancy Drew is the badass babe I want to be. 

There is a reason that Nancy Drew is one of the longest-running franchises; I just was completely unaware. Now, I have been enlightened. She is a girl who took charge over four generations of women who have struggled to do so. Women had only gotten the right to vote just over a decade before Nancy Drew came to fruition, so to see a girl so unabashedly fearless and strong was extremely empowering and has influenced millions of young girls who are still fighting for equality and recognition. 

You heard it here: Nancy Drew is the original YA feminist baddie. 

If you want to reach me from now on, I will only be speaking about Nancy Drew, so come in with a good lead.

Elizabeth Karpen

Columbia Barnard '22

Lizzie Karpen is a junior at Barnard College, the most fuego of women’s colleges, studying Political Science and English with a concentration in Film. To argue with her very unpopular opinions, send her a message at [email protected] or @lizziekarpen on Instagram and Twitter.
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