Paper Girls is a fun, futuristic yet nostalgic, ‘rag-tag bunch of misfits’ teen drama.
Written by Tresca Mallon / July 30, 2022
Four very different teens meet for the first time on their paper route and are plunged into a time-travelling, perilous adventure together. Erin Trieng (Riley Lai Nelet) is shy but strong willed and determined to protect others, Tiffany Quilken (Camryn Jones) is a born leader and the brain of the bunch. Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky) is the hard-ass rebel from the wrong side of the tracks and KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) is the preppy rich girl who is actually hard as nails. They travel through time, running from the terrifying Prioress (Adina Porter), who is determined to hunt them down.
The emotional centre of the show is the relationship which develops slowly but naturally between the four girls. While initially at odds with one another they each find their place within the group and form quite an adorable bond. The actors playing the four teens give impressive performances. There is an emphasis on the teenage girl experience, such as first loves and first periods, which feels very raw and honest and awkward in exactly the right way. A stand out is Rosinsky who plays Mac. While her ‘tough on the outside and warm on the inside’ character could have been somewhat cliched, the actor’s comedic timing and emotionally weighted delivery gives the character a real depth. This in turn allows the other characters to bounce off her. The show also boasts a wonderfully physical comedic performance from Alli Wong as the adult Erin and a surprisingly dark role for Jason Mantzoukas as the Grand-father who is known for his goofy, off-the-wall characters.
As a comic book adaptation the show benefits from its already existing fanbase as the show stays largely true to the story and aesthetic. However, this as ever brings with it its share of problems as no adaptation quite hits the spot for all its fans. For those unfamiliar with the series, Paper Girls may initially struggle to beat the Stranger Things comparisons given its 80s setting. However, as the series develops the narrative moves in its own direction and should beat any such allegations.
In the same way that Paper Girls certainly doesn’t play it safe with its aesthetic and narrative, it employs quite an unusual soundtrack. However, it has a tone and pacing issue and the sound-mixing can at times add to this confusion. The narrative also gets bogged down in lengthy, clunky dialogue and exposition which can allow the overall plot to get swallowed and force the audience to emotionally check out at the tensest of moments.
Paper Girls is a time-travelling adventure about, and largely for, teenagers. By keeping its roots in the comic books it also provides adequate nostalgia for long time fans of the comics. While the show is not without its flaws, it adds a fresh and funky perspective to the already over-saturated time-travel sub-genre.