The CW is giving the classic literary figure Nancy Drew her own TV show, only the 2019 version of the character is a far cry from her more wholesome 1930s schoolgirl roots.
The iconic young mystery-solver will return to TV in October for a new stand-alone series on the network. However, some fans of the character’s novels may be surprised at the adult-skewing and sexy angle the minds behind the new "Nancy Drew" are going for.
"We're making the show for The CW and that audience," executive producer Stephanie Savage told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour. "The little ones know that this show isn't for them, and they're going to have to wait until they're older."
The character debuted in 1930 as a 16-year-old prodigy with a propensity to solve mysteries that either fell on her lap or came to her by way of her lawyer father. The novels began as prim and proper stories for kids but quickly evolved as the character changed over time. Later adaptations saw Nancy as a high-school graduate who didn’t go to college, getting entangled in the drama of her hometown and often pursuing a romance with boyfriend Ned Nickerson.
The CW series will borrow from the later adaptations and see an older Nancy Drew working as a waitress after the death of her mother. The series takes a cue from the networks’ other dark, popular and adult-leaning drama, “Riverdale,” based on the “Archie Comic” series. “Nancy Drew” will show the youngster chasing murderers, having casual sex and dealing with supernatural twists and turns as she solves real crimes.
"Kids today are very comfortable with understanding that there are multiple iterations of (a story)," Savage said (via USA Today). "You can read a book, you can watch [a movie] ... there’s going to be different actors playing different characters. And what they love is the world of the story and the core character of Nancy Drew and the traits that she embodies of being smart, and brave and curious and wanting to set the world right by figuring out what went wrong."
Kennedy McMann, who plays Nancy Drew in the upcoming series, says that the adult aspects of the show paint a more realistic picture of an 18-20 year old that’s experienced the death of a loved one.
"She’s sort of navigating this extreme loss," McMann said. "She’s extremely lonely. She’s trying to figure out a way to deal with her feelings and is kind of throwing things against the wall. I think that that’s very normal and very relatable, and [sex] is just one way that she’s figuring out how to fill these voids."
McMann explained that Pamela Sue Martin, who played TV’s original Nancy Drew in the 1970s, passed the torch to her by way of a letter.
"It's, like, tear-stained. I cried when I read it," McMann told the TV critics gathering on Sunday. "It had a lot to do just with the industry and standing up for oneself and making your own decisions and how to kind of transition into a role like this and the repercussions of that in Hollywood. It was very thoughtful."
Martin will cameo in the upcoming series.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.