There’s a lot of new television out in the wild these days and a lot to catch up on, which can be overwhelming when people keep talking about how “x is a must-watch.” Some shows aren’t for everybody, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if you’re wondering if Paper Girls on Amazon Prime is the show for you, then you’ve come to the right place for a spoiler-free list.
Paper Girls is brilliant. It’s well-written, engaging, and based on comics, which generally equates to writers understanding where they want to take it. There’s a clear path the show follows in the science fiction genre, but even if that’s not something you typically gravitate towards, there still might be something for everybody.
1. What is Paper Girls? The Premise
The spoiler-free version is four girls, Erin Tieng (Riley Lai Nelet), KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza), Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky), and Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones) unknowingly travel to the future on the day after Halloween. In their attempts to find a way back home, they confront older versions of themselves and people wanting to kill them.
In our spoiler-heavy review of Season 1, we said: “Where it ultimately shines is its brilliant ability to balance character development and a narrative that demands to be the driving force. It’s seldom easy to deal with time travel because while there’s plenty of space to navigate through different storylines, if the mechanisms aren’t dealt with properly, then it goes off the rails, taking the characters dangling by a string wrapped around their ankles. The show is no Back to the Future, forbidding the girls from having encounters with their older selves or whatever the Marvel Cinematic Universe attempted through Endgame.”
For the sake of watching an unconventional time-travel-themed series, this could be an interesting route because unless you’ve read the comics, it’s genuinely not easy to predict where it’s going.
2. The Characters
The four girls will each take your heart for a different reason and run with it. They’re never giving it back, which isn’t bad because the moment the show ends, you will want to protect each of them with everything in you. While this show is very different from Stranger Things, there’s something about being an adult and wishing that kids wouldn’t go through the same hurdles you did. It’s largely why centering the series around them works to create something worthwhile because they’re each characters worth fighting for even when they make mistakes or mess up.
The characters are complex and intriguing, and who we meet in the first episode is a different person from the one we leave in the finale. These developments always allow a series to be far more intriguing, bringing something lovely to our screens even while we expect it to happen.
3. The Friendships
When we first meet the paper girls, they aren’t exactly friends. While some have known each other for a while because of their small town, Erin is new, and her family just moved to Stony Stream. They’re all doing a job, solely deciding to stick together during this one night because some of the town boys are unruly. This decision to stick together leads them on this quest together, allowing them to not only find common ground later on but a place to lean on as they fight through their challenges together.
We’ve merely seen the beginning of where this friendship could go, and it’s already entirely promising of something that’s going to be great. The potential is brimming with possibilities, and if you’re an easy crier, there’s a high chance you’re shedding a tear or two at some point.
4. The Nostalgia
80s nostalgia isn’t a new premise on television, but actively confronting it on screen is a fascinating take the series dives into. Still, it’s not just about the 80s, but multiple periods, and perhaps, more importantly, our own reflections as the series effortlessly prompts us to look back to when we were 12/13. It does this in such a riveting way that you don’t even realize it until it’s happening, and it becomes part of the appeal.
And even if you don’t feel an ounce of nostalgia, something about how the series moves through time makes it fascinating to deconstruct. It’s easy to care about certain things even while it’s typically not your wheelhouse.
5. The Heart
Paper Girls is dark (though never scary) and sad at times, but the show is full of heart. The strength of these characters lies in their inability to exude compassion even while their uglier sides are on full display. There’s something achingly precious about how the plot takes them through moments that force them to confront what they adore. And there’s also something special about how that’s translated towards viewers.
To keep this spoiler-free, we won’t get into all the moments that will tug on your heartstrings, but there’s more than one conversation that will sting, heal, and leave a mark. Multiple scenes look into what it means to be a kid, afraid, hopeful, and ambitious. The series’ plot is fantastic, and the characters are great, but the vulnerability in exploring key obstacles tied to growth places makes it deeply relatable. Even when they’re chased down and things are momentarily too dark and uncertain, there’s something innately wholesome about how it’ll make you feel after you’re finished.
Paper Girls Season 1 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.