Paper Girls Is So Much More Than Stranger Things for Girls

HOn Nov. 1, 1988 at dawn, four middle-schoolers from suburbs set out to deliver papers and dodge bullying teens who had escaped home following a night of mischief on Halloween. To find their missing walkie talkie boys, the girls break into an abandoned house and meet a pair of mutants. They then flee to deserted streets beneath an unnaturally fiery fuchsia sun. Instead of fighting bullies, they’re caught in some cosmic war.

Paper GirlsAmazon will soon have a similar product called. Stranger Things—but for girls! And if that’s what gets you to watch, so much the better. The series’ coming-of-age scifi is inspired by a comic created by Brian K. Vaughan, best known for his “The Vaughan Comics”. Y. The Last ManAnd Saga) and illustrated by veteran artist Cliff Chiang, tells a more focused, character-driven story that is particularly refreshing on the heels of the Netflix epic’s bloated fourth season.

Sofia Rosinsky and Riley Lai Nelet (Erin Tieng), Camryn Johnson (Tiffany Quilkin), Camryn Rossinsky (Mac Coyle), Fina Strazza and Fina Strzza (KJ Brandman), in ‘Paper Girls.

Prime Video

Time-travel is more than just a serialized feature of a creature. Paper Girls The central quartet is introduced at the edge of their adolescence. Erin (Riley Lai Nelet), who is the translator designated for her Chinese-immigrant mom, gets caught up in familial obligations. Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), an intelligent, but secretly sensitive child from a difficult home, is determined to emulate her elder brother. KJ, a private school jock and privileged girl from Fina Strazza, she squabbles. Tiffany (Camryn) Jones, the resident genius, keeps her laser-focused focused on her studies. She hopes that one day she will be able to travel far from her small, sleepy hometown.

The girls all harbor visions of a future that is better than the present, whether that means becoming President or just escaping the expectations of parents who don’t understand who their daughters really are. Each girl is forced to look at the future after their post-Halloween nightmare leads them on a trip through time into 2019, and beyond. That’s a lot of processing to demand from 12-year-olds who are also trying to extricate themselves from a war unfolding across timelines between two factions from the future—one a scrappy crew of young people who want to use time travel to fix humanity’s worst mistakes and the other a powerful, high-tech army determined to preserve the status quo.

Camryn (Tiffany Quilkin), Ali Wong, and Riley Lai Nelet are from left in ‘Paper Girls.

Anjali Pinto—Prime Video

Though stacked with strong comedic actors including Ali Wong and Nate Corddry, the show’s highlight is its young, mostly unknown leads. Along with sensitive depictions of pubescent rites of passage, a soundtrack that moves gracefully between different decades and styles of pop music, and evocative production design that resembles Chiang’s artwork more than Disney’s latest CGI simulacrum, these emotional performances ground the sci-fi epic in the recognizable details of growing up. As girls from the ’80s grapple with the uncomfortable realities of futures they’re just starting to build, the show expands—without ever getting tangled in too many story lines—to imagine how the future of humanity might be shaped by decisions we make today. The show is overloaded with plot, but lacking substance. Stranger ThingsWishes it had more to say.

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