I Once Again Watched All of Nancy Drew So You Don't Have To
Hello, and welcome to Reading Has Ruined My Life. My name is Hannah and I am your guide on this beautiful journey into the depths of my mind that nobody asked for.
This week, I want to step back from books. Shocking, I know. I don’t often create posts that aren’t book reviews. But I want to talk about some TV this week. We’re obviously gonna talk about my girl Nancy Drew.
The CW’s Nancy Drew wrapped up season two back in June, and I am just getting around to writing my review. I know, I know, I’m two months late on this; you don’t need to tell me. This just means I get to spoil all of season two because everyone has had ample time to watch the show! Don’t worry, I won’t spoil everything, just a lot of it. But before I get to my review, you can catch up on all of Nancy Drew here at Reading Has Ruined My Life with my reviews. You can click here if you want to read my review on season one, or you can click here to read my review on the season two premier. I highly suggest reading my other post on season two because I will not be talking about the premier much, if at all, in this review. With that, let’s talk about the newest season.
Season two follows Nancy and friends as they fight for their lives whilst solving the supernatural mysteries of Horseshoe Bay, and avoiding the wrath of one of the most influential, and deadly, families in town. This town is so haunted you’d think Stephen King created it. First things first though, the Nancy Drew Crew has to rid themselves of the Aglaeca’s death curse. You can’t solve mysteries if you’re about to die from a death curse!
Now, the following is something I have harped on and on about already in my previous Nancy Drew posts, but I do need to bring it up once again. It's the last time, I promise. Season one of Nancy Drew was cut short due to the pandemic. Season two was not supposed to pick up where it did, but with the world in quarantine, nothing could be done about the following. And while I have issue with what I’m about to bring up, I cannot fault anyone involved in the production of the show for it. I just want to mention the following issue.
To me, there is a massive disconnect between the first five episodes of the season and the rest of the show. Seriously, I feel like I can pinpoint the exact event that was supposed to be the original season one finale. Instead, season two picks up with the core group trying to break the death curse they’re under. A lot of their time is spent investigating and researching the Aglaeca in attempts to rid themselves of the entity. And when they’re not researching this spirit/curse, the main characters are spending time with their loved ones to say goodbye without mentioning that they’re dying. There is a lot of drama and tension in these episodes, but there was no fear that a main character was going to actually die. Four of the five main characters are integral to the Nancy Drew canon, and it would have been a massive "jump the shark" moment had the creators killed one of them off.
Honestly, these first episodes feel like a season in their own. These are some pretty good episodes, maybe some of the best out of the whole season, they just don’t mesh with the other 13 episodes. Why? Because the majority of the season is a wannabe Supernatural. I’m not kidding. The plot of most episodes is the Nancy Drew Crew solving a one-off supernatural crime. Nothing bad about that, there just isn’t much of an overarching plot until two-thirds of the way into the season.
Truly, some of these episodes were pretty great. “The Spell of the Burning Bride” was a fun episode, and it was honestly quite funny. I laughed a lot while watching it. The creators and cast knew it was to be a campy one-off, and they leaned into that. As a viewer, I could tell that everyone involved with the show was having a fun time with the episode and, in turn, it made it a lot of fun to watch.
Other episodes were horrible though; I’m specifically thinking of “The Celestial Visitor” which functioned as nothing more than a failed attempt to garner interest in the CW’s Tom Swift series. Guess what, it didn’t work. I found Tom Swift to be an insufferable character, and nothing about his appearance made me want to watch the Tom Swift series when it releases. Thankfully, I don’t have to see him ever again.
As far as our main characters go, I felt the cast created some wonderful performances. Leah Lewis especially. Lewis, who portrays George Fan, had the challenging role of playing multiple characters this season. Spoiler time. Early on in the season, George is possessed by the ghost of a French heiress. This spirit and George are two vastly different characters. Everything from the voice, dialogue and language, and mannerisms are different. And Lewis does a baller job at differentiating between the two women. Seriously, in the span of a second I could tell who was supposed to be in control of George’s body. That is how great Lewis did.
I was also impressed with Tunju Kasim’s performance. The writers room has put Ned Nickerson through a lot of traumas and trials. In the first season, viewers learn that he was once convicted of manslaughter, and in season two he’s dealing with his girlfriend’s possession, fighting multiple death curses, figuring out what to do with his newfound fortune, and combating racism in the small town of Horseshoe Bay. These are things that weigh heavily on the character’s mind. Kasim does well in making these issues part of the character’s motivation and driving force, and there has been some massive growth in the character between season one and two.
The only performance I wasn’t too much a fan of was actually Kennedy McMann’s. McMann plays the titular Nancy Drew, and her characterization is someone who is headstrong, intelligent, driven, and a straight shooter; she’s everything one would want in the character of Nancy Drew. She lacks emotion though. It’s as if she doesn’t have time to be emotional because her sole focus is on solving the mystery at hand.
I should say the issue I have with the titular character is not fully on McMann herself. Part of the issue also lies in the writing. McMann is working with what she is given, but it feels like the writers are not giving Nancy’s character time to be anything but perfect with any and all emotions bottled up. I don’t think it’s a good thing to be promoting.
Of course, this is CW writing I’m talking about here. Never have I ever watched a well written show on the CW. Nancy Drew is not much different. It has its moments. The talks on racism and police brutality were actually deftly handled; which surprised me, but the show still has all the hallmarks of CW style writing. It has the contrived love triangles, easy ways out of life threatening situations, and just some plain bad writing at times.
Speaking of love triangles, there were a lot this season. Buckle up because they are messy. The start of the season had the end of the Nancy, Nick, and George love triangle. Then came the Nancy, Ace, and Gil Bobbsey love triangle. Nothing much happens with that one until the end of the season where it then turns into the Nancy, Ace, and Amanda Bobbsey love triangle. If you read my season two premier review, then you may remember me saying that the Bobbsey twins were added in just to stir up some drama and cause relationship issues. I was not wrong when I guessed that because that is all the twins did. They offer nothing to the show.
These were not the only two love triangles that existed this season though. Nay, nay. There was one of the most awkward love triangles I have seen in quite some time. It revolved around Bess, George, and the ghost that was possessing George.
George was an unwilling participant in this love triangle, and it brings up a lot of consent questions. Thankfully, the writers rid themselves of this one by the end of the season.
Overall, the second season lived up to the expectations I had of it. It was on par with season one, the quality of the show stayed about the same, and it left off on a fairly decent cliffhanger. Season three is already in production, and given the path the show seems to be taking, I expect to see it continue down its supernatural path with there to be more ghostly mysteries to solve. Based on how season two ended, I also expect there to be more of an overarching story.
The lack of main plotline was the biggest issue I had with this season. It took the characters months to solve the murder from season one, but it just takes them a few hours to stop malevolent entities from destroying the town day after day. Yeah, don’t like that. I would rather watch the characters have struggles and actual obstacles to overcome. I’d like the writers stretch out a mystery over the course of multiple episodes to build up suspense and tension. Thankfully that does seem to be the route the writers are taking for season three.
Right now, season three is set to release in October of 2021. That’s not that far off, I’m impressed with the quick turnaround on the show. Once again, I do look forward to seeing what Nancy Drew has in store for viewers. I didn’t think I’d say it, but I am a fan of the show. My main hope is that season three can stay on par quality wise. Maybe, if I’m lucky, some of the unnecessary love triangles will be done away with also, but I don’t think I’m that lucky.
Next week, I shall return with another book review. For now, I bid you all adieu. Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask if you aren’t yet vaccinated, and read some good books for me.