Review by Tatiana Miranda
There’s a reason Prime Video’s newest series Paper Girls is being heavily compared to the hit show Stranger Things. For one, both are set in the '80s and star a team of bike-riding tweens located in the midwest. The resemblances continue with Paper Girls's sci-fi roots similar to that of Stranger Things, but where Stranger Things focuses on the supernatural, Paper Girls is centered around its adventures in time travel similar to shows like Loki and The Umbrella Academy.
Based on the comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan, the Paper Girls show only resembles the comics in terms of the meat of the plot and its adherence to the original cast of characters. From their clothing to characteristics, the ensemble cast of twelve-year-old girls Erin, Tiffany, Mac, and KJ perfectly mirror their comic book counterparts. Their battle to return to 1988 and become the people they plan to be is the driving force of the show. In scenes that get lost due to the messy plot and poor CGI, the cast outshines any flaws the series may have, and let's be honest, it has quite a bit.
The original source's unusual and disorienting sci-fi aspects are traded in for close character studies in Paper Girls. Whereas the comic book makes the most of its creativity on the page, the show lets the sci-fi plot take the backseat, with its lackluster CGI and uninteresting uses of sci-fi technology. While there are still remnants of the comic's most memorable artistic choices (e.g. the pink tinted skies that appear throughout the series), the creativity stops there, with the series instead taking the route of tackiness and predictability. Most of this loss in a unique setting is due to budget, which makes the series especially disappointing in comparison to other top sci-fi series out right now.
Paper Girls's pacing is another one of the show's biggest downfalls. Similar to its genre equals, Paper Girls has the problem of choosing the wrong time to end the episode. For instance, a groundbreaking fight and character death occur only a little over halfway through the season, and what would seem to be the second season intro of the girls appearing in a new timeline only happens an episode later. Likewise to The Umbrella Academy's refusal to conclude at a reasonable point, Paper Girls perseveres with its strides in world-building and storytelling getting lost in the rush to move on to the next big thing.
Paper Girls isn't a perfect show, nor is it an entirely terrible one. For fans of coming-of-age sci-fi, it's something to fill the hole leftover by the recent season of Stranger Things. For fans of the original comic, the show has its moments, but it is ultimately a disappointing adaptation of an extremely unique concept.
Paper Girls premiers on Amazon Prime on July 29. All eight episodes reviewed.