Stranger Things meets Tragedy Girls in Amazon Prime’s Paper Girls, an adaptation of the comic series by Brian K Vaughn. It stars a group of young girls, all diverse in personality, working to deliver newspapers in their small neighborhood of Stony Stream. From time travel to mad scientists and secret organisations, this series has it all in the realm of sci-fi. While alluring in its extraordinary premise, its themes and issues alongside well-crafted production keep everything muted and grounded into some sort of reality. It helps that every single young actress is a marvel to watch on-screen: Riley Lai Nelet’s stiff and confrontational take on Erin Tsieng, Sofia Rosinsky’s rebellious portrayal of Mac Coyle, Camryn Jones as the assertive and clever Tiffany Quilkin, and Fina Strazza’s endearing performance as KJ Brandman. Ali Wong also adds her own comedic and sensitive flair to the story, stabilising the explosive contrasts between the main characters.
Paper Girls frames the harassment of young girls at the hands of adults, reckless boys and the government, through the riveting lens of horror. Right off the bat, the cinematography indulges the viewers with symmetry, geometry and plenty of perspective work. There are a lot of side-by-side compositions to create balance and contrast between past, present and future. Shots into long hallways and through doors highlight specific details, while close-up tracking shots heighten tension and really bring to life the girls’ emotions. This dynamic camerawork thrums with a sense of unease throughout the entirety of the series, mixing thriller, horror and sci-fi to create a hybrid of different sensations – from anxiety, excitement and dread to frustration. Meanwhile, the constant darkness and neon lighting shades the series in something modern and extremely visually addictive.
While it’s all well and good to have excellent production and cinematographic chops, Paper Girls excels most at drawing viewers into the characters. One of the most interesting aspects of the show is how awfully flawed each of the main characters is, making them more engaging and interesting. Themes such as confronting an unexpected and unwanted future, lifelong friendships borne out of shared trauma and grief, assimilating in an everchanging world, and the end justifying the means further compel viewers into each of the girls’ stories and journeys. The script really hones in on guiding these characters into each other’s comfort, creating specific dynamics out of their experiences and clashing personalities.
Paper Girls is released on Amazon Prime Video on 29th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Paper Girls here: