My Heroines

The Future (and Present) is Female at the CW

The Paley Center held their annual fall previews over the weekend in Los Angeles, an annual event with new fall shows grouped by network, and a nice chance for fans to get a first look. I attended one of the screenings last night where they showcased three CW new shows–Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and Katy Keene. It’s. In many cases, panels of cast and crew are available to answer questions. For this event, they followed the Nancy Drew episode with a panel featuring the entire cast and producers.

All three shows were enjoyable, though Batwoman is the weakest. But as a group they showed that fhis Fall is an exciting time for network television and strong female leads. Also, Katy Keene used the phrase “code-switching” in their episode, an exciting move for a CW show in my eyes.

Nancy Drew
Scott Wolf, Nancy Drew’s “hot dad,” at the Paley Center. Photo by Kristin Clifford. 

The Nancy Drew pilot featured enough elements from the books to satisfy fans, and plenty of modern updates and intrigue to hook new viewers. True Drew-heads will be relieved to hear Nancy’s hair is still titian. But the supporting cast is far more diverse than they were in the books, and Bess, George, and Nancy aren’t best friends. Instead, they’re co-workers at The Claw, a maritime-themed bar and grill in Horseshoe Bay, a small town in coastal Maine.

Nancy’s sassy, and very importantly, not a virgin. The overly saccharine Nancy of the books has grown up. She’s 18 and struggling with grief over the recent death of her mother, and her crumbling relationship with her dad. Her mom’s death left her unmotivated to sleuth, but mysteries find her when someone murders a rich socialite in the Claw parking lot.

Scott Wolf, who plays her father, laughed politely when the panel moderator welcomed him to the “stable of hot CW dads.”

I will absolutely watch more. The supporting cast is charming and mysterious, and Nancy’s a great, flawed lead. I was also delighted to see that all three producers are female, and the entire cast has researched by reading Nancy Drew books.

Batwoman
The Bat-Wig

An intriguing concept and a gay female lead? When I heard about this show I was on board immediately. Kate Kane returns to Gotham after training hard to become a Crow, a member of her father’s elite team of highly trained security officers. There is great potential for drama as a madwoman kidnaps her former girlfriend and as her father reveals why she will never be a Crow. The general vibe of Gotham overlays it all.  Since she can’t be a Crow, Kate takes a page from her cousin Bruce Wayne and becomes Batwoman.

But Ruby Rose can’t act well enough to carry an entire show, and it’s obvious. Her flat affect destroys the rhythm of the pilot. The supporting cast is excellent, especially her step-sister Mary, but I’m not sure that can save the show.

I like the plot and setup enough to keep watching, but won’t make it more than a few episodes if Ruby Rose doesn’t get an acting coach. It’s aggressively bad–she can’t even twirl in wonder convincingly.

Katy Keene
Unbreakable

I wonder if this is the vehicle we’re getting instead of a Josie-themed show. Katy Keene is a character from the Archie comics, but the show is set five years after Riverdale, time-wise. Katy’s an adorable heroine, a dreamer who works hard and loves her friends and her boyfriend, KO Kelly.

Katy’s torn between following her dreams of being a clothing designer or taking the more sensible route of personal shopper at her favorite department store. She has the talent but her boss doesn’t like that she wants to design, and she doesn’t get the promotion.

Her roommates are dreamers too. Jorge dreams of dancing on Broadway professionally, and her brand-new roommate Josie (of Pussycats fame) has just landed in New York to become a singer.

All the characters are appealing and likable, and watching hot young people follow their dreams is usually a winning concept. I’m not sure if the show has enough drama to sustain me, but I’ll tune in again.

Kristin Clifford

Kristin Clifford is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She started in Chicago, studying improv and performing stand-up, but has traded the stage for the page. Recent projects include writing for season 2 of Cathy in Real Life.

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