Why CBS Has Their Nancy Drew Adaptation All Wrong

Kelly Tatham
3 min readOct 6, 2015

CBS just announced they’re developing a drama series based on the iconic Nancy Drew novels. It will be a contemporary take seeing Nancy in her 30s working as an NYPD detective.

Please excuse me while I go throw up.

In elementary school I read the shelves of our library’s Nancy Drew section dry. Then I went to the city library and scrounged every garage sale and bookstore I could find clean. I loved Nancy, I lived through her. And then I grew up and became a writer with a penchant for murder mysteries. It is not an overstatement to say that the stories of Nancy (and George and Bess and Ned and Carson and Hannah) changed my life and shaped me into the person I am today. This is why I can state, with utmost certainty, that Nancy Drew would never work for the NYPD. At least not the Nancy that I know and love.

Now if someone underestimates her as an NYPD detective, it will be only because she is a woman.

Nancy is an amateur sleuth. Cases find her, not the other way around. She occasionally works with the local police, but has no credentials. She never accepts payment. She doesn’t carry a gun or need a warrant. Nancy travels to destinations both exotic and just across town, always relying solely on her wits, charm, and friends. (What, is Bess an NYPD secretary? George, her tough and jaded former partner, fresh out of rehab and back on the beat? Ned… oh, where will sweet, bland Ned fit in this new adaptation?) Nancy’s unofficial capacity always granted her the ability to sleuth how she saw fit — and when she got in trouble, she had no badge to back her up. She relied on people underestimating her. Now if someone underestimates her as an NYPD detective, it will be only because she is a woman.

I have no problem with a reimagining of the series. Of course Nancy should be in her 30s! We spent so much time with her as teen and in her early twenties, we’re hungry for the next chapter. But solving procedural crimes for a police force? I don’t think so.

You know where Nancy should be? In a small town, in the middle of nowhere, hiding from the mystery that brought her to her knees. She should be uncertain of her future, a little bit broken, and traumatized by the…

Kelly Tatham

Fugitive. Systemsthinker. Saving the world is easier than we think. There is no world // kellytatham.com