Rebel, the show—just like the character—comes with plenty of baggage.
Keeping secrets, breaking and entering, solving mysteries and catching crooks is just a day in the life for young sleuth Nancy Drew… Or at least it used to be.
Ever since her mom passed away from pancreatic cancer, Nancy stopped searching for clues in the dark. But when a rich socialite’s murder leads to the decades-old unsolved murder of Dead Lucy (the town ghost), she can’t help herself. Because, let’s be honest, Nancy loves solving mysteries.
Based on the character created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as the female counterpart to his Hardy Boys series, Nancy is as smart, resourceful and independent as ever. She receives help from book series regulars Bess Marvin, George Fan (originally Fayne in the book series), and even her longtime beau in the novels, Ned Nickerson (though he prefers to go by “Nick”). However, the CW’s interpretation of these characters isn’t quite as wholesome as the original.
For starters, Nancy and her friends aren’t, well, friends (or at least, not at first). George—one of Nancy’s BFF’s in the books–is the manager of the Claw, the diner where Nancy works, and she’s been holding a grudge against Nancy since high school, believing that Nancy spread rumors about George’s supposed sex life. Bess is an out-of-place city girl with a criminal record for shoplifting. And Nick … well, let’s just say that his and Nancy’s relationship is more carnal than relational. That is, until they break up and he starts dating George instead.
In fact, until they’re all brought in as suspects for a murder, none of them really seems to have anything in common—other than each having a clear motive for murder, that is. But therein lies another problem. Who killed Dead Lucy? And is she somehow responsible for the town’s most recent death?
“I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe in looking for the truth.” Nancy says.
This latest adaptation of the precocious heroine takes a much darker approach than previous versions. And, at least in terms of the show’s creepy atmospherics, it works. Although the supernatural elements feel like they’ll end in a Scooby-Doo-esque encounter with a man in a mask, the jump scares are effective. And once Nancy discovers that those mysterious figures appearing through the shadows and mist are actual ghosts, she seems to have no problem calling on their spirits for help.
Nancy and her friends keep their language modest with only a few misuses of the Lord’s name and the occasional h-word. Sadly, the same cannot be said of their romances. Although we don’t see anything critical, the nuances are enough to awkwardly turn your head away from the TV and pray for a commercial break. It’s obvious that these characters won’t be holding to the same standards of innocence as those in the books. (Especially since members of the crew are engaged in same-sex and age-inappropriate relationships.) Drug use and occult references earn screen time, too.
The one saving grace might be that nobody seems to be interested in duking it out. That being said, Nancy is investigating a murder, and the death of Dead Lucy probably wasn’t an accident either, proving that while we didn’t see it on screen, violence has already reared its ugly head.
After failing to meet their end of a bargain with a vengeful sea spirit, Nancy Drew and the gang try to find a way to spare their own lives.
People summon spirits through rituals and prayers. Malevolent spirits with rotting limbs are drawn to a talisman and attack the person bearing it. A skeletal, mermaid-like spirit gives visions to Nancy and her friends of their deaths. (One seen on screen shows two people drowning in a car.) A woman makes plans for the future to “tell the universe” that she’ll survive the curse. We learn that a man made a deal with a spirit years ago to save a young girl’s life. However, he learned too late that the spirit wanted his life in return. So, to avoid being detected, he caused even more evil spirits to hunt him down instead, effectively using their bad mojo to mask his scent. When he finally grows tired of being chased by so many spirits, he tries to undo his original curse by killing the girl (who is now an adult). People offer blood and human bones (from someone who died 19 years prior) to a spirit.
A man pours gasoline onto a vehicle with an unconscious woman inside; he is stopped before he can light the car on fire. We hear about a man who dies when a weathervane impales him.
Two people make out repeatedly and attempt to remove their clothes to have sex (but we don’t see skin or the deed on screen). A girl wears a midriff-baring top.
People lie. We see and hear references to Jewish traditions and lore. A Jewish man says he wants to have a “come to Jesus” moment, and someone says he should stick with one religion. Someone says God protects “idiots.” God’s name is misused several times. We also hear uses of “h—” and “b–ch.”
Nancy seeks to exonerate her dad of Dead Lucy’s murder once and for all.
A ghost haunts Nancy, appearing as a water-logged corpse with black sockets for eyes. It pops up suddenly several times (including once hanging upside-down from the ceiling), sometimes growling and even attacking Nancy. It causes boxes of files to explode and a window to shatter next to a woman’s face. Someone talks about summoning an evil spirit.
We learn that a teen girl planned to take her life after being bullied, and she does indeed die. But it is unclear if she slipped or jumped from the cliff that killed her. A girl holds a bloody knife. We see an umbilical cord cut and people holding a newborn baby, still covered in placenta.
A young couple kisses and makes plans to spend the night together. Bess discovers that Nancy had sex with Bess’ cousin. A teenage girl is pregnant. A woman wears a midriff-baring shirt.
We hear the h-word and one misuse of God’s name. A girl is called a “whore” in an email. People talk about “slut-shaming.”
A police officer carries a gun. People lie and hide Dead Lucy’s bones from the police. Hanukah decorations are pulled from a box.
After Tiffany Hudson turns up dead outside the diner where Nancy works, she decides to return to the world of sleuthing to prove her own innocence in the case.
A man and woman have sex. (We see nothing critical, but the man’s shirt and pants are unbuttoned.) Clothing is removed while a couple kisses and we see the woman’s bra. They lay down on a bed, implying sex, but the camera pans away. A teenage couple kisses. A widower is embarrassed when his daughter finds him kissing another woman. Short skirts are seen on women. Infidelity is implied.
A woman in a blood-stained dress stands on the edge of a cliff. She falls moments later, but it is unclear if she jumped or was pushed. A woman’s lifeless body is found next to her car. A 911 recording reveals that she was attacked. A woman finds a bloody dress hidden in a trunk that her parents had dug out of the ground years before.
Nancy hears otherworldly whispers of her name while investigating and imagines a tiara is on her head while looking at her reflection. A skeptical Nancy and her friends engage in a séance with a medium. A table violently shakes during this encounter and the medium is supposedly possessed by a spirit who talks to them. While hanging out in a graveyard, a girl sees a ghostly shadow through mist. A video recording shows a similar shadow behind Tiffany Hudson just before her death, but the video glitches out before anyone can tell what happened. During a blackout, an attic door opens seemingly of its own accord and wallpaper is ripped. A ghostly figure stands behind a young woman. A teenage boy jumps out from behind a grave in a dress to scare his friends. An Egyptian ankh is seen in the background of a medium’s house.
A young man and woman talk about smoking marijuana and drinking during work hours. A police officer mentions putting someone’s mom in the drunk tank. A woman comments on her family’s history of alcoholism and teenage pregnancy. A woman previously arrested for shoplifting is revealed to have taken an engagement ring. A man’s juvenile record shows he was found guilty of manslaughter. A woman breaks into someone’s house to search for clues and avoids the security team after setting off a silent alarm. A woman uses a screwdriver to break open a locked filing cabinet. A daughter argues with her father about neglecting her after her mother’s death. A joke is made about sex. God’s name is misused a few times, and “h—” and “a–” are used as well. “B–ch” is heard in the background music.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Rebel, the show—just like the character—comes with plenty of baggage.
Some violence and Eastern spirituality blend with this story of a female warrior trying to do good.
It offers a respite from TV’s turns toward the tawdry and traumatic, and that in itself is manifestly good.
Nickelodeon’s puppet-propelled sword-and-sorcery series aims young, but is still a bit edgy at times.