Paper Girls premieres. What are the critics saying?

Paper Girls

The new series, Paper Girls which was filmed in the Chicago area last summer, has dropped all eight episodes of the first season exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. 

We’re seeing a pattern with a new series, where the streamers drop all the episodes at once. The theory, as we see it, is let’s see how well it is received, what do the critics say, and what’s the buzz on social media. Judging by the overall positive comments on Paper Girls, we place our money on seeing a Season 2 announcement in the very near future.

Described as “a high-stakes personal journey depicted through the eyes of four girls,” according to the official logline, Paper Girls is based on the best-selling graphic novels written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang. The show’s breakout leads are played by Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng, Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle, and Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman. The hilarious and talented Ali Wong also stars as the grown-up version of Erin, with Nate Corddry as Larry and Adina Porter as Prioress.

The internet is buzzing with reviews and at this time, Paper Girls Season 1 is ranked 87% fresh by Rotten Tomatoes based on 38 ratings.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Dan Fienberg from the Hollywood Reporter enjoyed it and said, “Although fantastical elements give Paper Girls its hook, what’s actually fantastic about the eight-episode series is its unexpectedly lovely depiction of preteen female friendship.”

Kelly Lawler from USA Today agreed, ” [Paper] Girls is more than just a Stranger [Things]  knockoff, although I can imagine the popularity of that Netflix juggernaut helped get an adaptation of Girls off the ground. It takes place in a world where young girls are the heroes of their own stories, which might as well be science fiction.”

Robert Lloyd from the Los Angeles Times concurred, “I would rank it as one of the year’s best shows, for what it does right and what it doesn’t bother doing, for the intelligence of the writing and the natural flow of its dialogue, and the impressively deep performances of its phenomenally talented young cast — not actual 12-year-olds, but near enough.”

Nick Allen from RogerEbert.com said, “This is a surprising time travel coming-of-age story that largely does away with nostalgic needle drops and sights, but does make you care about each of the 12-year-old girls and their lives. It’s about how confusing it would be to see your future self, when dealing with the present is already strange enough. Time travel thrills, and even a large robot fight, are more of a giddy bonus.”

Caroline Framke from Variety seemed to enjoy it and said, “Paper Girls feels more like what might happen if a wormhole had sucked up The Breakfast Club members and spit them out into another decade (and not just because Rosinsky’s Mac, with her tough talk about needing smokes more than love, looks and sounds eerily like a mini Judd Nelson). Though to its credit, the show rarely loses sight of the fact that they’re neither small children nor full-fledged teenagers, but 12-year-old girls who are both smarter and less experienced than most of the adults — including their own grown-up selves — tend to realize.”

Alan Sepinwall from Rolling Stone said, “It’s not just that its central quartet is female, when the bike-riding Eighties heroes tended to be boys. It’s not just that this show is much less interested in direct homages to the films of that era. Nor is it just that the premise revolves solely around science-fiction, with no horror components to speak of, and no images that will prompt some viewers to watch through the filter of their slightly outstretched fingers. Above all else, it’s that Paper Girls is primarily interested in its genre trappings as a way to explore its four central characters, rather than as the backbone of a serialized thrill ride. And the new show is quite good at what it sets out to do.”

Keith Phipps from TV Guide said, “Paper Girls” best moments use the fantastic premise to enhance a story filled with familiar moments of adolescent drama. Its characters are everyday teens grappling with all the drama inherent to that and occasionally dealing with giant robots and pterodactyls.”

Judy Berman from TIME Magazine also enjoyed the first season, “the show’s highlight is its young, mostly unknown leads. Along with sensitive depictions of pubescent rites of passage, a soundtrack that moves gracefully between different decades and styles of pop music, and evocative production design that resembles Chiang’s artwork more than Disney’s latest CGI simulacrum, these emotional performances ground the sci-fi epic in the recognizable details of growing up. As girls from the ’80s grapple with the uncomfortable realities of futures they’re just starting to build, the show expands—without ever getting tangled in too many story lines—to imagine how the future of humanity might be shaped by decisions we make today.”

You can’t please everyone and not everyone can say they have fallen in love with the series:

Brian Lowry from CNN.com panned it and said, “The latest graphic novel from Brian K. Vaughan to make the leap to the screen, Paper Girls possesses a Stranger Things-wannabe vibe, blending coming-of-age elements, time travel, nostalgia and science fiction. The result makes for a semi-watchable Amazon series that feels a little too convoluted to satisfactorily deliver.”

Richard Roeper from the Chicago Sun-Times wasn’t a fan and said, “If there is a Season Two—and the cliffhanger ending certainly indicates that’s the hope and intention—Paper Girls has the potential to develop into a kind of less nostalgic Stranger Things, what with the 1980s time period in which the show kicks off and the band of kids who must perform heroic deeds to save the day. But they’re going to have to kick things into a faster and more compelling gear to convince us this is a story worth a long run.”


ALSO READ: Paper Girls filming scenes in Wheeling this week


Chicagoans likely recall the show being filmed last year around the city in several areas including the famed Music Box Theater in Chicago. Production also transformed the Chicago Southport Corridor into a 1980’s, 4th of July set along with filming scenes in a myriad of other locations including Wheeling, Glenwood, Elburn, McHenry, Thornton and Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.


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