The paper girls stand next to an open time machine glowing pink.


Title: Paper Girls (Season #1)
Released: 2022

Fix: Female Friendships, Time Travel Lite, Science Fiction Lite, Realistic Teenagers, When You Want Heartwarming Without The Saccharine
Platform: Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Summary:

A few hours after 1988 Halloween night, four 12-year old girls have to face a mission. Trapped in a complicated conflict, they will travel in time to save the world.

FYA Summary:

The synopsis above is a pretty succinct summary of the general plot, so instead I’m going to list off the reasons why you should definitely be watching this show, because I feel like it’s not going to get the attention it deserves.

  • It’s a comic book adaptation with the original creators’ input and a team that cares about representation on and off the screen. According to interviews with the show leads, they all understand how rare it is see four female adolescent leads carrying a science fiction show, especially one featuring leads who are Chinese, Black, or Jewish. And almost all of the screen writers (except the showrunner) and all of the directors are women, and you can absolutely tell. There is a scene in episode five where the girls discuss periods and have to figure out how tampons work, and it’s funny and beautiful and honest and like nothing we Olds grew up seeing on screen.

  • The creators were committed to not showing the 1980s as some kind of nostalgia-fueled fantasy world. Don’t get me wrong—I love Stranger Things, but in no way do I think its idealized world was real life back then. These girls want to get back to ‘88 because it’s where their families are, and as they experience different times, they are aware that the ‘80s are not “better”, they’re just “familiar”. (I wouldn’t even call this an “‘80s show”, TBH, as most of it takes place in 2019 or 1999, except for the fact that the girls are very independent pre-teens in a very ’80s way.)

  • The characters are where this show shines. I won’t lie: the special effects are cheesy as hell sometimes, and the intricacies of the actual time traveling and the Time War or whatever sometimes feel like afterthoughts. If you’re looking for serious science fiction heavy on the action, this ain’t it. But, honestly, who cares, because Paper Girls lets its characters breathe. Let’s them have actual conversations—and arguments—with each other. Makes them face some hard truths about where their lives are headed and the consequences of their actions. I laughed and nodded in solidarity and sometimes cried my way through all eight episodes because I fell in love with every version of them, warts and all.

  • The four lead actresses are SO FREAKING GOOD. I was honestly so impressed with their poise and nuanced expressions and how real they made their characters feel (they were all between 12-14 when they began the filming!). The showrunners mentioned they wanted the vibe between the characters to be 9more grounded and realistic, citing Stand By Me as a goal post, and I think these ladies delivered. Getting to see new talent and hopefully see some stars in the making is why I think there needs to be less “stunt” casting in all forms of media today.)

Familiar And Not-So-Familiar Faces:

Riley Lai Nelet as Erin

Erin kinda starts as our de facto lead in the first episode or two, but never fear: each girl gets her moment to shine. It’s her first night as a paper girl, and she worries about leaving her mom and younger sister alone because she’s taken on a lot of the family burden after her father passed away. I loved Erin’s journey (you will probably see me repeat this a lot).

Camryn Jones as Tiffany

Tiff is the MIT-bound, smarty-pants of the group who is the most intrigued by how all this time travel stuff actually works. She doesn’t get as much attention in the first half of the season as she does in the second half, but when we do focus on her, well…she has a lot to unpack about her future.

Fina Strazza as KJ

KJ’s from a richer part of town where she plays field hockey and is stressed about the dress her mom wants her to wear to her bat mitzvah. She’s quieter than the rest of the girls and that may make you overlook her initially, but she is truly the group’s heart. Her character goes through quite a personal journey and the way Fina played KJ’s naked vulnerability sometimes just had me tearing up (the scene at the movie theater, IYKYK).

Sofia Rosinsky as Mac

Okay, so like all of these actresses are excellent, but, holy shit, Sofia is just KILLING. IT. Sometimes you want to slap Mac and sometimes you want to hug her so hard. She is brash and prickly and the kind of casually racist/jackass that comes from having some shit role models and being a thoughtless twelve-year-old, and if you kind of hate her at first, well, I was right there with you. Thankfully, the other characters do not stand for her more extreme asshole tendencies and call her out on it early on. Her journey is definitely the rockiest, and sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back, but the way Sofia plays her will make you care for her anyway. That moment on the motorbike, again—IYKYK.

Also, as an aside, how much does she remind you of young John Connor a ala Terminator 2 with that haircut??!

Adina Porter as Prioress

This is Adina’s Arnold a la the Terminator moment, as she is one of the baddies who is on the relentless hunt for these time-travel interlopers. Fans of The 100 know Adina can play an amazingly badass woman (I <3 you, Indra!), but I also giggled when she pops up in various “normal” disguises to get information by any means necessary.

Ali Wong as Adult Erin

I couldn’t get through one of her last stand-up shows on Netflix without thinking, wow, this person seems really bitter about and really hates her husband (so, not shocked when I heard they were divorcing) and maybe that was all I was thinking about when she initially shows up (I kind of forgot she also acts). But I ended up liking her as Adult Erin who is SO not who Child Erin thought she was going to turn out to be.

Jason Mantzoukas as Grand Father

I was not expecting him in this show, so that was a fun surprise. I feel like Jason always plays variations of the same kind of character, but it’s a niche he does really well. As he is a baddie in this, his normal “I’m totally chill and casual” vibes lean more deceptively sinister as he wanders around in his socks-with-sandals and band tees, and I dug it.

Couch-Sharing Capability: High

Please, watch it with everyone! Though if you’re going to watch with younger teenagers (who didn’t grow up with parents who love to cuss like mine, ha), be aware that in true ‘80s fashion, the show does not shy away from the F-bomb.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Glass Of Wine

To sip in solidarity when one of the younger girls is disappointed in how her older self turned out, or when an older self has to drop a truth bomb on the younger self that makes you nod sagely. Or when you need something to do to pretend you’re not crying because, god dammit, life is really hard sometimes, and these kids are just trying their best.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent

If I haven’t persuaded you to watch this show by now, then I don’t know what else to say. I mean—I could go on, but this post is already long enough. I don’t turn on Amazon Prime very much, and I know they are a horrible company that is slowly ripping away at the fabric of our society, but I’m glad there’s a place on the internet where this show can exist, even if has to be on their streaming service.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.