If you’ve been craving a new epic sci-fi TV show to throw yourself into, Paper Girls is here to fill that void. Said to rival everyone’s favourite show, Stranger Things, Paper Girls is set in 1988, where four paper girls become caught in the crossfire between warring time-travellers and accidentally get transported into the future to 2019.
That’s not all, though. The girls’ journey will cause them to come face-to-face with the grown-up versions of themselves while also being hunted by a militant faction of time-travellers known as the Old Watch.
Sounds incredible, right?
The beauty of bringing the Paper Girls story to life
Paper Girls is based on the best-selling graphic novels written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang. We’ve seen a heap of comic/graphic novel TV adaptions over the past couple of years, and this always creates an added pressure of having to get it right for the existing fans of the original stories.
But for the cast of Paper Girls, it’s a dream to be able to bring the popular graphic novels to life.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this production. I mean, getting to be a part of Cliff and Brian’s work is amazing and I love working with these guys [pointing to Fina and Camryn],” said Riley Lai Nelet, who plays paper girl Erin Tieng, during a chat with Lifehacker Australia.
“Just being a part of a production that means so much to a lot of people, including myself. It’s really touching and it’s become a big part of my life.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Camryn Jones, who plays Tiffany Quilkin in the show.
“I think we all have grown an attachment to the comics and I think we’ve all become like big fans of it ourselves. So we’re like fangirling over the production ourselves and I think it’s so cool that we get to bring it to life because like Riley said, it does mean a lot to a lot of people and the messages it represents mean a lot. So I’m just really humbled to be a part of it.”
For Fina Strazza, who plays KJ Bradman, the thing she was most excited about was being able to bring to life a story that focuses on women saving the world.
“It’s so great to be a part of something that has such a driving female force and has so many unique themes to it that hopefully a lot of people will really enjoy and will be able to find something they like,” she told Lifehacker Australia.
“I think it’ll be an opportunity to really bring people together on something that we’ve created, which is really cool.”
Meeting the future you
Meeting your future self would probably be one of the scariest and weirdest things to experience, but for the Paper Girls, it’s something they must do to survive. The cast, however, had reservations about how keen they’d be to meet their future selves.
“Oh, I don’t think I would want to because we’ve all talked about this before and I don’t think we wouldn’t want to mess anything up,” Nelet said.
Strazza echoed Nelet’s fear of messing up reality, saying, “I would be worried about some butterfly effect and how I would feel kind of depends on what I’m doing, you know? Like if I’m happy in the future, then I guess I’m happy then and that’s good enough for me.”
Jones, however, would be excited to meet her future self.
“I would want to meet my future self! I would want to ask her questions and I would want to see what we do and how we live. I’d want to know what stocks I should bid on now so I can be rich later, and I just think it would be really cool to meet older me.”
The importance of authentic story-telling
Something that makes Paper Girls feel special, besides seeing young women saving the world, is that it feels like there is a proper, authentic representation of diverse characters. In particular, there is a strong presence of Chinese culture within Erin’s family.
“I think diversity is something that is really important and representing a culture properly is really important but I think it’s not also just the mentality of having diversity and ‘Oh, we have to have a diverse cast’. It’s just having real people that are authentic,” noted Nelet.
As you watch Paper Girls, this authenticity is made readily apparent and gives audiences the ability to connect with the various characters on a deeper level, especially when we watch KJ struggle with her emotions about her upcoming Bat Mitzvah.
When asked if we will ever see KJ get her Bat Mitzvah, Strazza replied,
“Oh, maybe! Maybe they’ll have a little party, you know? She talks about it and it’s something that she’s dreading sometimes and sometimes she’s looking forward to it. We don’t really know how she feels about this Bat Mitzvah. But we’ll see if she ever makes it home.”
Something that fans love about shows like Stranger Things is the humour that’s packed around the more serious themes of the show, and that’s something that Paper Girls nails as well. One particularly funny moment happens with the girls (from 1988) interacting with the voice assistant Alexa.
It’s just not just the characters in the show who have struggled with an Alexa, too. Jones also shared a funny anecdote with Lifehacker Australia about her real-life Alexa troubles.
“I have this friend named Lexi. I was on the phone with her one day and I’m like, ‘Lexi’, and I start like saying stuff. Then Alexa comes on and she’s like, ‘Okay, I’m playing this song by this person now,’ when I’m literally just on the phone with Lexi,” Jones said.
“Then she turns up the volume to, like, 10 and it’s just blaring and I’m just yelling ‘Alexa, stop!’ And then Lexi hangs up because she thinks I told her to stop.”
“Oh no! Lexi! Lexi, she’s sorry!” Strazza added.
According to Strazza, this Alexa scene was just as much fun to film as it is to watch.
“I love that scene, though. The first time I watched it, I thought it was so funny. Like I’ll watch it over and over again. I just thought that scene was so fun.”
“I think we goofed off a lot that day, specifically,” Nelet said.
“There were a lot of ad-libs,” Jones added.
“Yeah, most of that scene is improvised,” echoed Strazza.
Paper Girls has quite a large following within the graphic novel world and has deservedly found a special place in a lot of fans’ hearts. But something that we’ve seen in other comic adaptions is that the show can sometimes stray from the original storylines.
That doesn’t seem to be the case for Paper Girls, however. The cast hinted that there will be a few easter eggs laced throughout the show for fans to spot.
“There are really cool things that a lot of people will notice from the source material, if they’ve read it, and there’ll be nice easter eggs. So they [the fans] should like that,” Strazza said.
“When we got to watch it and we got to see all of the little easter eggs like she [Strazza] was saying, it was like ‘Oh my god, I remember that from the comics…’” Jones added.
“It just felt very emotional, in all the best ways. And I am so happy that we got to bring it to life,” added Nelet.
I think it’s safe to say that the series is in good hands. And as fans of the comics themselves, the cast is “very, very happy with the show”.
Paper Girls premiers on Prime Video on Friday, July 29.