The CW’s Nancy Drew Adaptation Will Never Use Guns

We talked to the cast and creators of Nancy Drew at NYCC about what this version of the iconic character represents.

The CW’s new Nancy Drew adaptation perfectly hits that #fallgoal cozy-spooky aesthetic. While the town of Horseshoe Bay may be riddled with ghosts (or at least one homicidal ghost named Dead Lucy), there is a comfort to knowing that Nancy Drew is on the case. And, per the Nancy Drew showrunner, there is also a comfort to knowing that there will never be a gun fired on the show.

“I am very proud to say that we don’t use guns on the show,” executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor told us at NYCC earlier this month. “We intentionally will never fire a gun on Nancy Drew. We might have somebody pull one, but it would only be in the context of an arrest. Even some of our arrest moments are intentionally done without them.”

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While this might not seem like a radical choice, it is one. While I think there is an incredible amount of room in our popular culture to better contextualize the proliferation of guns and gun use in our country right now through the depiction of gun violence, there is also a tradition of casual, thoughtless gun use representation in most of our mainstream stories, especially ones that have to do with the seeking out of “justice,” by some definition. In other words: if you are going to tell stories that include guns, you better do so intentionally and thoughtfully.

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Nancy Drew, a show that airs on The CW and is therefore presumably aimed at least partially at young people, is choosing not to fire guns. Young Americans are growing up in a country that requires them, in addition to having fire drills, to also practive what happens should an active shooter come onto their campus. The same anxiety exists for American adults, who also live in a country with the 28th highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world. In this context, it isn’t so much to ask that cozy-spooky shows intentionally eschew this particular anxiety.

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(That being said, if the series is choosing to go down this path, it would be even better if Nancy Drew chose not to depict guns at all. The caveat of using guns in the context of arrest is no doubt not a comforting qualifier for black Americans, who continue to be killed by police at a rate disproportionate to the demo’s percentage of the overall population.)

Speaking more generally about the aims of Nancy Drew the series, co-creator Noga Landau said: “We want to tell stories that make people believe in their humanity, [in] justice. That’s what Nancy Drew’s always good for, actually.”

“She has all of this emotional intelligence,” added Hsu Taylor. “I thought about that a lot [when writing this story]. About her compassion, but also not the kind of passive way. Her “get it done, let’s fix this” [attitude]. I’m the lone voice in the wilderness, I don’t believe the autopsy results. And so I think of some of the things that people gravitate to and here’s what I think of when Nancy Drew’s name pops up in any other venues like, ‘Oh well that’s the person who’s going to seek the truth.'”

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Kennedy McMann, who plays Nancy Drew in the adaptation, sees that quality of Nancy’s that Hsu Taylor is describing above as representative of the “socially-based” desire for justice and equality we see in young people today.

“I think Nancy embodies this sort of rebellious justice that we’re seeing a lot of,” said McMann. “This sort of fighting against the confines of the law and structure. She is very much an independent thinker … her justice is not in line with, ‘Well this is what the law says.’ It’s very socially-based. And I think it embodies this rise of young people with bold and bright ideas who are willing to find creative solutions to things. And I think she’s a real embodiment of that.”

Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays on The CW. You can find out more about it here.

Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.