The CW’s ‘Nancy Drew’ has a sparkling new sleuth Kennedy McMann

The CW’s “Nancy Drew” stars Kennedy McMann as the classic sleuth. (Photo credit: Kharen Hill/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network),

The Nancy Drew character embodies a smart girl who is brave and curious, and has a knack for solving mysteries. All that is still part of The CW’s “Nancy Drew” series, but it’s also for a new generation.

 The iconic literary detective Nancy Drew is now blending mystery and suspense in the new drama, along with a supernatural element, a real ghost, and a pinch of horror in the mix. All that is perfect for The CW network’s genre-loving audience.

 The talented cast is headed by a sparkling newcomer, Kennedy McMann, who steals every scene she’s in as the always-clever Nancy Drew. You really believe this girl can really solve any mystery. McMann is a rare breakout star of the new Fall shows.

 Generations have enjoyed the Nancy Drew books since the ’30s, and the  sleuthing character has had several movie and TV incarnations. A successful one was The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977 on ABC) with Pamela Sue Martin (Dynasty) starring as Drew.

 Now lovely Kennedy McMann is the new modern Drew. The 23-year-old actress was in the Carnegie Mellon University theater program and graduated last year. This year she was at the CW’s interview session at the Television Critics Association’s Summer 2019 press tour talking about the career-making opportunity on the new series.

 On the panel was Scott Wolf (from the original Party of Five) who plays her dad. Also on hand, a large diverse cast and creative team that included actors Tunji Kasim, Riley Smith, Leah Lewis, Maddison Jaizani, Alex Saxon, and Alvina August.

 Although she’s new to acting, McMann reported she’s very familiar with the Nancy Drew franchise. She said, “I come from a super literary family. My mom’s an author (Lisa McMann), and I grew up reading the (Nancy Drew) books. So I was pretty well versed. When this came about, I intentionally did not reread (the books) because I wanted to dedicate myself to the Nancy that we were creating.”

 There are changes that take the prim and proper original Drew and turn her into a more emotional character with complicated relationships. “It’s not designed for 12-year-olds, we made the show for the CW,” exec-producer Stephanie Savage said about the riskier material. Nancy’s relationship with her boyfriend (Tunji Kasim) is part of that.

 In the series Nancy Drew has a history of solving mysteries in her hometown of Horseshoe Bay, Maine. The show begins with Nancy putting college on hold and working as a waitress in town, still grieving her mother’s death. Then a socialite is murdered, and Nancy finds herself a suspect, along with a group teens present at the scene. All have a mysterious past that complicates her sleuthing. Add to that Nancy’s conflict with her widowed father who also has secrets. And a supernatural presence is haunting her investigation.

 Exec-producer Melinda Hsu Taylor reported the supernatural element is just a piece of the storytelling rather than the main feature. Taylor also said the socialite murder mystery introduced in the first episode will unravel throughout the season, but in each episode another mini-mystery will be revealed.

Kennedy McMann as Nancy and Scott Wolf as her dad Carson Drew (Photo credit: Dean Buscher/The CW)

 It is an appealing premise for mystery lovers. Scott Wolf reported he was a fan of both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books when he was a kid, and explained, “The books are almost 100 years old, and people are still enamored and fascinated with them. There’s something so simple and old fashioned when you read them now, but the sense of mystery, character, and the quality of the storytelling holds up all these years later. They’re incredible.”

 Nancy Drew starring Kennedy McMann airs Wednesdays at 9 pm on The CW. Tune in.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.