Paper Girls (2022) review: A time-travelling series which fails to deliver

In Paper Girls, four 12-year-old girls face a mission a few hours after Halloween night, 1988. Trapped in a complicated conflict, they travel through time to save the world. The series is streaming on Prime Video.

Story

On the morning after Halloween 1988, four paper girls, Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany get involved in something peculiar and travel to the year 2019. Everything is freaky and different for them there.

They learn about the conflict between STF, i.e Standard Time Fighters and the Old Watch. These groups are engaged in a time war where the former wants to change the future while the latter wants everything to stay the same way. 

The Old Watch has banned time travel and is now hunting down the girls. 

The girls find their older selves and the people connected to their lives. They interact with them and get to know more about their future. Mac gets to know she is going to die when she turns 16.

All of them get together to find a way to return to their original time. They are joined by Larry, a member of the STF. They all travel to 1999 instead of 1988. The Old Watch follows them and kills Older Erin and Larry.

The girls run away and are aided by the older version of Tiffany. 

A face-off occurs between the girls and the Old Watch. The latter offers them Ablution, which means wiping off their memories related to time travel and returning them to their original timeline. The girls feel this is shadowy and refuses.

A member of the Old Watch, the Prioress, takes the girl to their headquarters where she offers them a way to change the future, and save Mac from dying. She gets them into time pods and launches them into an unknown location.

The girls are separated into groups of two. Mac and KJ are nowhere to be seen while Tiffany and Erin travel to an unknown location, near a drive-in cinema. They have travelled even further in time, instead of the future. 

Performances

The casting of the show could have been better. There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about their performance. 

The young actors did an adequate job but the acting feels forced and the expressions and emotions feel offkey at many points.

However, Sofia Rosinsky, who plays Mac does a solid job in playing a character who is outwardly rowdy but sweet inside. 

Camryn Jones and Fina Strazza, playing Tiffany and KJ also do an adequate job and their characters were well written. 

Younger Erin, played by Riley Lai Nelet is disappointing. The acting feels superficial and the character has an obnoxious air around her. This could be because Ali Wong, who plays older Erin, brought a fantastic spin on the character which made the flaws of the younger Erin even more prominent. 

Positives

The plot is engaging and compelling. Since the series is adapted from a comic book, the quality of the content is good and the writing is great which includes interesting characters with depth. 

The music is incredible as well. It fits the timeline and the moments of the show aptly. Songs from the ’80s and ’90s go well with the vibe of the show.

The coming-of-age genre is done satisfactorily. The girls’ journey mixed with time travel, meeting their older selves and coming to terms with their future identities, is done beautifully.

The parallel between the younger and the older versions is a compelling plot point which also allows for introspection. It acts as a lesson that life does not always turn out the way you might expect and highlights how people figure themselves out with time.

Negatives

The low budget of the show is clearly visible throughout the series. The special effects and cinematography are disappointing. The skies, the giant robots, and the strange bugs do not correspond to what is happening on the screen. 

Paper Girls does not do justice to the sci-fi genre. The sci-fi plot points are not really given a priority and get lost in the middle of the series with more focus on individual character storylines.

The pacing also fluctuates. It is fast-paced and interesting in the first 3 episodes but then loses its groove to the coming-of-age plot points until the sci-fi aspects return in the last episode.

Verdict

Paper Girls with all its weaknesses, is a decent and compelling show. The cinematography is a put-off but the time travelling storyline makes up for it and keeps you engaged.

It’s a show which focuses on the journey of young girls facing important revelations, and young audiences may like it.

However. if you are expecting a big sci-fi spectacle with strong acting and visually appealing cinematography, you will be disappointed. 

Rating: 3/5


Also Read: Paper Girls (2022) ending explained: Do the girls go back to 1988?