When the teenage detective Nancy Drew was created in 1930, America was a very different place. The Great Depression had just begun, women had only recently won the right to vote, and racial and gender discrimination was still legal. But after 85 years of Nancy Drew books (created by the publisher Edward Stratemeyer and ghostwritten by several authors under the name Carolyn Keene), spinoff series, movie remakes, and TV shows, the latest effort to revive the classic character highlights just how much the country has changed since her debut in The Secret of the Old Clock.
Glenn Geller, the president of CBS Entertainment, told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that the network is developing a new series starring Nancy Drew as a 30-something NYPD detective, with one major change to the strawberry-blonde, blue-eyed heroine: “She is diverse, that is the way she is written ... [She will] not [be] Caucasian. I’d be open to any ethnicity.”
There’s a lot to unpack in that brief, somewhat mysterious statement. For one thing, it’s the latest example of the TV industry taking concrete steps to put women and characters of color in major roles. For another—the awkward use of “diverse” aside—Geller implies that Nancy Drew’s ethnic background has already been written into her character and story somehow—and yet CBS hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll be black, Latina, Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander, or multiracial. (Whatever the network decides, the show will hopefully take care not to treat any of these identities as casually interchangeable.)