With COVID as bad as ever, I set out to find a new show to watch. I wanted something easy to get into; I have difficulties with picking up on characters’ names and differentiating characters with similar features, so finding a show that was based on a piece of media I already knew seemed like a good idea. I remembered seeing an advertisement for Nancy Drew a few years back and figured it’d be a good choice since I’d already read a handful of the books and I liked mysteries. So, a few months back I started watching it with my mum.
It quickly became one of my favourite shows. I won’t claim it’s a masterpiece; it’s a CW show and as such it’s CW quality, but I enjoy it immensely. It’s simple but compelling, and I actually find it’s not as tone-deaf as many CW shows can be. I went into it expecting it to be shallow and just another murder-mystery show, so imagine my surprise when I learned it’s heavily based on the supernatural and doesn’t shy away from serious topics such as how BIPOC are affected by law enforcement and how people are affected by the legal system. Obviously, the show isn’t rooted entirely in social justice, but it effectively covers certain topics I wouldn’t have expected from a CW show. There are also ghosts and spirits involved.
The general plot of the show is as follows: Nancy Drew, our childhood heroine, lost her mother and tanked her grades needed to get into college as a result. As such, she took a job at one of the town’s restaurants, The Bayside Claw (affectionately dubbed The Claw), where the rest of the main characters work except one: Nick. Nick is a mechanic and starts off in the show as Nancy’s boyfriend, a relationship we’re quickly informed won’t last. At The Claw there’s George, the manager: her mom’s an alcoholic, so she must work to support her three younger sisters and she’s got a reputation for dating older married men despite being barely 18 herself. There’s Bess, a waitress that’s not exactly the best at her job, whose past isn’t super well known, who has some kleptomaniacal tendencies and, while not explicitly labelled, is queer. Those three are all characters from the Nancy Drew books. There’s just one more main character, Ace, the pothead dishwasher with a complicated relationship with law enforcement. The five are accused of the murder of Tiffany Hudson, one of the town’s wealthy socialites, and the show begins.
Throughout the show, we discover that the town is a site for supernatural creatures and that the town’s local ghost story is related to the murder. The first season covers this mystery and reveals new information about a variety of characters. We learn about Nancy’s family, which is more complex than it seems at first, and see her breakup with Nick over their communication difficulties which are largely blamed on Nancy’s unwillingness to let people in. Nick’s storyline revolves around a past prison sentence and his experiences with death and doing the right thing. George ends a predatory relationship with a man old enough to be her father which had started when she was in high school, and her difficulties being the main breadwinner for her family are discussed. With Bess, we learn about her past, what led her to the town and how she’s a foil to Nancy’s family problems. We learn about Ace’s relationship with law enforcement, which is a commentary on how white men are largely able to avoid consequences while black men, like Nick, must face disproportional sentences. All of this, on top of angry ghosts and malevolent spirits.
The show has three seasons, and as of now, it hasn’t been renewed. It’s a show with a strong focus on second chances and finding peace. While it covers heavy topics, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, with more lighthearted episodes being sprinkled amongst the more gritty, supernatural mystery ones. It’s not an overly complex show, but it’s enjoyable and predictable, which is something I find makes for excellent TV. Overall, if you’re looking for a new show, I highly suggest Nancy Drew.