Reviews

‘Paper Girls’ review: ‘Stranger Things’ comparisons aside, a fun and feminist ride to cheer on

A still from ‘Paper Girls’

A still from ‘Paper Girls’ | Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

While it would be easy to compare Stephany Folsom’s Paper Girls to Stranger Things, it would not do the excellent, nuanced show any justice. Based on Brian K. Vaughan’s comic book series, Paper Girls (October 7, 2015 to July 31, 2019), illustrated by Cliff Chiang, tells the story of four girls on a paper route who stumble onto an ongoing time war.

November 1, 1988, is 12-year-old Erin’s (Riley Lai Nelet) first day delivering newspapers, in Stony Stream, a nowhere suburb in Cleveland, Ohio. She meets three other paper girls on the route; Tiffany (Camryn Jones), Mac (Sofia Rosinsky) and KJ (Fina Strazza). The 12-year-olds have radically different personalities. While Erin, an Asian-American, is quiet, responsible, and trying to find her place in a bewildering world, Mac, with her swearing and smoking, wants to claw her way out of her less-than-ideal circumstances.

Paper Girls
Season: 1 
Episodes: 8
Runtime: 38 to 56 minutes
Creator: Stephany Folsom
Cast: Camryn Jones, Riley Lai Nelet, Sofia Rosinsky, Fina Strazza, Adina Porter
Storyline: Four girls stumble on a centuries-old time war on their paper route

While it looks like KJ, with all her privilege, has a perfect life, she too is struggling with issues of identity, and Tiffany’s laser-sharp focus on her future goals doesn’t let her live in the present. With all this drama going on, when you throw in time travel and a war between those who wish for the status quo (the Old Watch), and those who do not (the Standard Time Fighters or STF), you have eight episodes of gorgeous fun.

When the girls are transported — from early on the day after Halloween of 1988 — to 2019, they realise their future did not quite turn out how they had imagined. They also need to get back home to 1988, while evading the Prioress (Adina Porter), an Old Watch soldier. Thankfully, they have some help from their older selves and Larry (Nate Corddry) from the STF.

The show challenges the theory that your future and past self should not meet as it would collapse the space continuum, tear the fabric of time, or drive you barking mad at the very least. Larry says that the Old Watch put forth that theory to ensure that people do not tinker with the time line. However, on the other hand, Grand Father (Jason Mantzoukas), the leader of the Old Watch, has convincing arguments against messing with time. That he explains it using a mix tape is added bonus.

Beautifully acted, Paper Girls, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment among others, is a happy mix of nostalgia, time travel, growing pains and more. And then there is the ultimate temptation of turning back the clock and cheating death. Coming back to the Stranger Things comparison, while there are the bicycles, science fiction, adventure and children on the brink of growing up, Paper Girls is so much more.

With its spunky, feisty lead characters, the show tap-dances through space and time with breathless thrills, jolly robots, vicious, trained pterodactyls (really) and an awesome soundtrack that includes Cher (‘If I Could Turn Back Time’), The Bangles (‘Hazy Shade of Winter’), Danzig (‘Mother’), Alice Cooper (‘School’s Out’), and Lou Bega (‘Mambo No 5’). Woo Hoo!

Paper Girls is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 1:39:06 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/paper-girls-review-stranger-things-comparisons-aside-a-fun-and-feminist-ride-to-cheer-on/article65720753.ece