I can understand why so many people have missed out on ‘Paper Girls’. It is only available on Amazon Prime. They didn’t know how to advertise it – because of it’s ties to the 1980s, ads kept comparing it to ‘Stranger Things’ and it really has nothing in common with that series apart from that decade. The title is mysterious and the main graphic is vague because so much of the series is just as nebulous as the purple cloud floating above the four girls. Which is probably why Amazon just announced it would not be picking up the show for a second season, which is bad news for fans of good television.
Good news is that Legendary is not giving up and shopping around the second season to other streaming services and networks.
I’m trying to think of a quick way to describe the show without giving too much away… I guess the most spoiler-free quick take is four girls meet up on November 1, 1988 during their neighborhood paper route and manage to get transported through time together. There’s a LOT more to it than that, but I’d rather you watch it and saw it all unfold.
One of the big missteps was tagging this show for “Young Adult Audiences” – it is not I’m not saying a teen wouldn’t enjoy this show, but the crux of the emotional resonance comes from being an adults with a past to look back on. Where ‘Stranger Things’ is about surviving your teen years, ‘Paper Girls’ is about growing up. ‘Paper Girls’ hits you with the question so many of us have when flipping through old photos – what would 12-year old me think of adult me?
Speaking of teens, the four main actresses are AMAZING. I know this might have kept people away too – a show with such a young cast that carries everything on their shoulders. But they are an amazing team and you immediately feel for them.
‘Paper Girls’ is based on a comic book series that ran from 2015-2019 by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. BKV recently had two other comics transform into tv shows – Runaways (Hulu) and Y The Last Man (FX? Maybe? It didn’t do well). The show is being smart about adapting the story to the screen rather than trying to copy and paste. If you’ve read the comics, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t read the comics, you will also just be surprised…just without all that random knowledge floating in your head beforehand.
There is so much I want to say about this show but I don’t want to ruin it for you. I haven’t had a series really hit this many emotional beats while also packing the story with adventure and mystery in awhile. By the end of the first episode, I was hooked. I wanted to know about each of these girls and where their story was going. And when the credits popped up at the end of the season finale, I let out an audible “NO!” thinking this would be the last time we saw them on the screen.
Be warned, it does end on a cliffhanger. But perhaps if enough of us watch it and talk about it, a new network will save it. And if not, the comics are easy to pick up at your local library so you can find out what happens to Tiffany, Mac, Erin, and K.J. after 1988.