The Nancy Drew TV Series Is Taking The Source Material In A Very Different Direction

by Kerri Jarema
The CW/YouTube

If you're anything like me, when you think of Carolyn Keene's classic girl detective Nancy Drew, you picture a 1950's era immaculately dressed blonde with a penchant for solving light-hearted mysteries. But The CW's new Nancy Drew series is about to upend every reader's expectations with a spooky, supernatural thriller that will bring Nancy firmly into the 21st century. And yes, there will be ghosts.

Keene's Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were published between 1930 and 2003, and fans will remember that they focused on real-life baddies and crimes firmly rooted in reality, like stolen inheritances, missing jewels, and counterfeit currency. And while the stories did sometimes delve into the supernatural — one of the most famous books in the series, The Hidden Staircase, features a possibly haunted mansion with mysterious ghostly figures and swaying chandeliers — the big bad at the end of the book was always just a regular person, usually with a greedy streak.

But in the newest trailer for The CW's Nancy Drew, it's evident that the supernatural is very real. Here's what we know so far: Nancy Drew (played by actress Kennedy McMann) was set to head off to college before her mother's untimely death derailed her plans. Now stuck in the small town of Horshoe Bay (given a very Riverdale-esque makeover), Nancy becomes embroiled in the murder of local socialite Lucy Sable, tracks down ghosts, searches for missing kids, and generally "chases the shadows."

And it's not only ghosts and ghouls who have been added to the world of Nancy Drew. According to Deadline, McMann said at the show's TCA panel that the teen detective will be much less prim and proper than fans have known her in the past:

"I just think there’s a little more risk now, especially regarding women. [There is] much less taboo in showing women how they actually are... She is very prim and proper in the 1930s, McMann says. "In a more modern context, there is just a broader market for a lot riskier material."

Interestingly, McMann's portrayal of Nancy Drew actually marks something of a return to the original source material. While Keene first published The Secret of the Old Clock (the first Nancy Drew mystery) in 1930, it was rewritten in 1959 by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. Keene's original novel depicts Drew as strong-willed, pistol-toting, fearless, and happy to take the selfish elite down a peg. It's only because of rewrite that Drew became less impulsive, less headstrong, and far more refined. In 2019, it makes perfect sense for Drew to return to her fiercest form.

The CW's Nancy Drew is set to premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 9, a great start to all of your spooky season viewing.