Nancy Drew and the case of the remake: there's going to be a new Nancy solving crimes and cruising in her blue car, according to Vulture, but this time she won't be a teen. CBS is developing a new Nancy Drew project from Grey's Anatomy producers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan and Dan Jinks from American Beauty on the case, as well, and they will bring an older Nancy to the scene: "the CBS project would be a contemporary reimagining of her character as a super-sleuth NYPD detective in her 30s." But if we want to see a contemporary reimagining of the character of Nancy Drew, I can't be alone in hoping that, perhaps, this 21st Century Nancy might be a woman of color.
Since Nancy Drew first came out in the 1930s, the girl detective has gone through tons of transformations and iterations to keep up with the times. She's a timeless feminist hero, for many — in fact, not one, not two but three Supreme Court Justices have cited the teen detective among their influences: Sandra Day O'Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, and the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg all loved the fiercely independent and curious teen girl sleuth when they were younger. She's been an inspiration to our inspirations, like, ahem, Oprah. And her wild popularity through her books spawned tons of other girl detective stories, including the much-beloved Veronica Mars. But, in all her years as a feminist hero, Nancy Drew has never been played by a non-white actress.
The character seems to navigate feminism breezily; she's smart, curious, fearless, and she can fix a car. She's armed with only a flashlight. But, in all of the adaptations on film and TV of Drew's character, from the Bonita Granville versions in the '30s to the TV movie starring Emma Roberts as the spunky girl detective in 2007, Nancy has always been white. And for that reason, she's not as modern as she could be. Nancy Drew isn't a physical character, she's an idea, and she's supposed to be a hero for all girls. Even though many women of color count Drew among their influences, there should be a brown or black girl in the role, not only for the sake of diversity, but to really remake Nancy Drew for a new generation of girls.
CBS has a chance here to reinvent Nancy Drew as a more diverse character that girls of color could look to for inspiration. If they are reinventing her as an adult and not a teen, why not change her narrative even further? What's appealing about Drew isn't that she has blonde hair and blue eyes, but that she's fearless and curious in a world that is rough on women (to say the least). Who needs the message that they can do anything more than girls of color, in a television landscape that still features so many white faces?
Image: Warner Bros.