Paper Girls: pre-teen girls find strength in numbers

Sofia Rosinsky, Fina Strazza, Riley Lai Nelet, and Camryn Jones in Paper Girls

Paper Girls is a time travel sci-fi drama based on a comic book series by Cliff Chiang. Four 12 year old girls out on their bikes delivering papers in the pre-dawn hours in 1988 get caught in a time warp and travel to 2019.

None of the Paper Girls were friends before this day. It was the day after Halloween, Hell Day, and teen boys were still roaming the streets. They harassed the girls, who got together and helped each other deal with the boys. The four of them were in a group when a time traveler scooped them up and whisked them away into the future.

Sofia Rosinsky, Fina Strazza, Riley Lai Nelet, and Camryn Jones in Paper Girls

The cast was brilliant in this. All the girls were awesome in their own way and likeable as characters. Erin (Riley Lai Nelet) was Chinese. It was her first day as a paper girl. The Black girl, Tiff (Camryn Jones), was a straight-up genius. KJ (Fina Strazza) was rich, ready for her Bat Mitzvah, and didn’t need to be delivering papers. Finally, Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), was the kid from the poor home who did need the money and was always hungry.

The girls quickly decided they would be stronger as a team. Despite their many difference and disagreements, they stuck together when it counted as they struggled to learn how to get back to 1988.

Ali Wong and Riley Lai Nelet in Paper Girls

They sometimes met their future selves. The 2019 Erin (Ali Wong) was depressed, friendless, and estranged from her sister. When the young girls met their adult selves, they were both disappointed and shocked. Definitely not what they dreamed for themselves. Adult Erin helped the girls look for a way back to where they belonged.

The adult Tiff (Sekai Abenì) was helpful. She was full of info about worm holes and time travel theories of all sorts. She let the girls stay at her place and took them where they needed to go.

KJ saw her adult self (Delia Cunningham) but didn’t make contact or ask for help. She saw her adult self kissing a woman, which shocked her and gave her a lot to think about. Seeing the kisses gave new meaning to the 12 year old version of long stares into each other’s eyes by KJ and Mac, as well as the occasional touching hands or faces between them.

Mac didn’t see her adult self, but she met her older brother Dylan (Cliff Chamberlain), who was now a doctor.

The cast was filled with many other characters. There was a group called the Old Watch that tried to keep the timeline the way it had always been. Another group was seeking to change the timeline to something all new. There was a war between these factions, and the girls got caught in the middle. There was Larry (Nate Corddry), a farmer whose corn field was a favorite spot for folds in time to occur. The Old Watch Prioress (Adina Porter) chased the girls from year to year. They thought she wanted to kill them.

At one point, the girls had a great plan to get back to 1988, but they ended up in 1999. There were many complications, dangers, and lots of time for the girls to examine their hopes for the future.

The special effects were minimal in the time warps. The sky turned pink and explosive, there was a lot of noise. There were capsules and pods that could take you through time. The battle of the giant robots with adult Erin at the controls of one of them was cool looking. It was low budget sci-fi. The series succeeded because of the characters, who were uniformly engaging and complex. Kudos to the young actresses who made the characters so real and deep.

The series was created for television by Stephany Folsom. The directing staff was all women: Mairzee Almas, Georgi Banks-Davies, Destiny Ekaragha, and Karen Gaviola. The entire first season is available now on Prime Video. I would definitely like to see Amazon Prime give this show another season or two.

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. #EldersRock! Look for Old Ain't Dead on Twitter.

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