If there is one thing my childhood has taught me, it’s that if Nancy Drew is on the case, she will solve anything! But in The CW’s heart-pounding new series, the iconic detective might have faced her toughest match yet. Nancy, along with a motley crew of frenemies and acquittances, are stuck as the prime suspects for a sketchy crime that looks more supernatural than teen mystery. Dark, gritty, and downright eerie at times, Nancy Drew is a case that will hook you in.
This isn’t the first time that the teen detective has been adapted to the screen – let’s not forget the 2007 classic starring Emma Roberts (American Horror Story, Scream Queens). Whereas that teen flick had Nancy’s flair for ‘50s nostalgia and resourcefulness, The CW series is going for a more updated yet darker tone, similar to that of Riverdale. Big changes include a tense relationship with her father, not being best friends with George or Bess, a hookup-only relationship with Ned (now called “Nick”), and an abrupt retirement from sleuthing. As someone who loved Nancy Drew books, these changes hurt, but it’s understandable why they needed to happen to make the series different for new viewers.
The downside of these changes, however, is that everybody seemed miserable and mean at times. Come on, this is supposed to be the series premiere! We have to start on good terms to like these characters if we want to see them get cleared of the crime. The only two characters who started on good terms were Bess and Ace, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter turned out to be the murderer in a “fake out” situation. Nancy came across a bit cold/standoffish, her dad was frustrating, George was downright mean, the cop hates Nancy, and they tried to paint Nick as a guy infatuated with Nancy when all we’ve seen of them do is have sex. The next few episodes should spend more time fleshing out the characters and humanizing them a bit; Nancy Drew doesn’t have the luxury of such iconic characters like Riverdale to naturally gravitate towards.
Speaking of Nancy’s relationship with Nick, they progressed quickly for something that came across very casual. He’s definitely more into her than she is into him, especially after he risked his probation to help her at the Hudson home. (Side-note: Nancy is a natural-born detective. There is no way she would leave her masked behind as evidence, even if Nick was pulling on her to leave!) I wish Nancy Drew spent one more episode exploring their romance before defining the relationship and labeling him as the main suspect. More time would’ve helped build a bigger connection to the couple and made the reveal more shocking. Being this early on obviously makes it a red-herring.
Nancy Drew introduced two big mysteries that could be connected based on Nancy’s investigation, but more than likely, they will be separate paths. The first one focused on the main season mystery of the death of Tiffany Hudson, the town’s socialite and wife to Ryan Hudson. At first, it’s easy to fall into the trap of connecting it to a supernatural twist. All the pieces led to the town’s ghost killing her, especially with the spooky video that Nancy captured and her interaction in the attic. However, these might be red-herrings and her death was based in reality. Plenty of people had reasons to kill Tiffany: her being a witness to Nick’s crime, Bess stealing the wedding ring, and George’s affair with Ryan.
Right now, the leading theory is that Ryan had something to do with the murder. The series premiere didn’t include any footage of Ryan crying and being distraught over Tiffany’s murder; he was chilling like a villain in his car and when George came over for a rendezvous. Plus, he was involved in something shady that forced his wife to be outside in the parking lot of the diner. Why did she have to wait outside? Couldn’t she have gone home or somewhere else during his meeting? The fact she had to wait outside during the exact moment that her murderer arrived was a puzzling matter. In addition to this, Nancy herself stated that we needed to look at the husband first, which no one did.
The second mystery involves the town legend of Lucy Sable. Throughout the premiere, Nancy Drew spent a lot of time giving background about the death, how Nancy was involved in the yearly superstitious ritual, and the connection to the mystery at hand. Whatever happened to Lucy is a bigger mystery that could eventually takeover the prominence from Tiffany’s death. The show is setting up the characters to dive deeper into the supernatural world and how Nancy’s parents were involved in the disappearance. The trip to the medium was a nice touch, but it was finding the bloody dress and the riddle in Nancy’s attic that delivered the creepiest hit. Nancy Drew wants us to feel scared and they will take us there.
While the spooky and eerie tone is one of the positives for the series, it did pose the question: what kind of show does Nancy Drew want to be? Is it a grounded series of crime-noir mysteries or will it be supernatural? Both mysteries toed the line, but the entire end scene made it seem that the spiritual world will play a big part. It would be a shame for the latter to turn out to be a “Scooby-Doo” reveal when the effort has been done to include creepy elements to the series.
Based on the series premiere, Nancy Drew has the potential to be an addictive, gritty mystery. Both cases were set up on good footing, and there’s more to the mysteries than meets the eyes. The characters need some work to become likable and the tone has to inject some fun into things; it’s way too serious at the moment. However, I’m excited to see where things go.