Let’s get the pun from the title out of the way, Prime Video’s “Paper Girls” fails to deliver in its spectacle. It felt like someone saw “Stranger Things” and wanted to make it different, but failed in finding out what made it special.
Before I go further, yes, I am aware this is adapted from a graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan, author of “Y: The Last Man,” and “Saga.” I read some of the original comics and fell in love with the colors and vibrancy of the art which I thought could have been translated to the show.
I was wrong. I was so so wrong.
What I got was a color palette more comparable to a CW show than what the show deserved. Same with the budget too with many of the weapons in the show looking like they are made out of cardboard and plastic. The acting thankfully was not plastic such as the weapons, the main four girls all play their parts excellently and bring some nice emotional beats to the story that while grandiose in scope, is all about the eternal struggle of human beings to find themselves and discover their future.
The main standouts for the characters are Riley Lai Nelet’s Erin, and Sofia Rosinsky’s Mac. Both being main characters, Erin is the main focal point and brings the fish out of water element to the other paper girls — K.J., Tiffany and Mac — on the route. As such, she receives many of the big emotional beats of the series and provides a way for the audience to understand the world through her new eyes. Mac on the other hand is the hard tomboy that in my opinion, starts off extremely unlikable and just a generally horrible person to be around. While there is a change in her attitude by episode 3, it still feels like the character took way too long for something of a redemption arc to happen.
With the release of “Stranger Things” last episodes of season 4 releasing in the beginning of July, “Paper Girls” needed to find a way to separate itself from the comparisons. While this may seem easier to market the story as one of time travel rather than interdimensional hijinks, no one can escape the 80’s needle drops, wardrobe aesthetics, and personality traits found in the four characters.
In the end, Prime Video’s “Paper Girls” fails to provide a satisfying experience compared to its competitors. The characters feel like generic archetypes, the villains are one note, and the story takes way too long for it to push through to keep one watching. While the acting is great, much of the writing feels mean spirited and cynical, especially in the first episode where we deal with Erin. While it felt like a fun ride, I can compare it to a carnival ride, short, fun, and a quick burst of adrenaline. Sadly, in this age of big budget TV shows with amazing effects and great characters, “Paper Girls” only sees the glass half full. 6.75 blue tongues / 10.