PAPER GIRLS Season One
UK/US Streaming now, Prime Video Showrunner Christopher C Rogers Cast Riley Lai Nelet, Sofia Rosinsky,
Fina Strazza, Camryn Jones
Given Stranger Things’ phenomenal success, the only surprise is that it’s taken a while for Brian K Vaughn’s 2015 comic – potentially the perfect vehicle for BMX nostalgia, ALF references and New Order needle-drops – to come to TV. Now it finally has, the results are just a little underwhelming.
The essentials are the same, with 12-year-old Cleveland papergirls Erin, Mack, KJ and Tiffany transported from 1988 into the future, after getting caught up in a conflict between timetravelling factions. Thereafter, the TV series largely takes its own path. Much of the comic’s weirdness has been boiled away. There are no kaiju-sized tardigrades, for example, or giant Pteranodons used as flying steeds – though the CG budget does stretch to a mecha punch-up and one medium-sized dino.
The emphasis is rather different here: firmly on the brain-bending emotional impact of finding out what your future holds, or meeting your older self. This entails some additional sob stories. In the comic, for example, future-erin is pretty cool; here, she’s an anxiety-ridden martyr.
This aspect works well, thanks to excellent performances by the young leads. Scenes where the tweens are faced with home truths every adult has to contend with – maybe you won’t achieve your dreams… and maybe they were ill-conceived anyway – should strike a chord with any grown-up whose path has featured some wrong turns.
After a while, you begin to wish the series would hurry up to the next encounter between past and future selves. The regularly sidelined temporal war arc isn’t all that engaging. The production design also disappoints: pretty much everything, from the armour of the status quo-protecting Old Guard to the facial deformities of the rebellious STF operatives, feels somehow diluted.
None of which bodes well for the second season. With all the future selves now introduced, it won’t be able to fall back on those emotionally resonant one-to-ones. Ian Berriman
In the original comic, the physical appearance of the older Erin is based on artist Cliff Chiang’s wife, Jenny.