CBS closed the door on the most popular heroine sleuth of a generation (or a few), and the reason why is a mystery.
A modern take on the famous Nancy Drew mysteries, the girl detective originally conceived in the 1930s by a team of ghost-writers under the pen name Carolyn Keene, the new Nancy Drew show would have featured a diverse cast and a spin on the book series no one has ever seen before. The series had been picked up for a pilot by CBS back in January of this year during the budding of shopping season for networks, but now, for whatever reason to be determined, CBS is feeling buyer’s remorse, Variety reports. The network is dropping the Nancy Drew project from Grey’s Anatomy Tony Phelan and Joan Rater.
While the origins of Nancy Drew begin in Depression Era America, this version of Nancy Drew was to be as modern as stainless-steel appliances and self-driving cars. Even Nancy’s age, which was exclusively adolescent in the numerous books about her, was going to see a bit of an update. This version of Nancy Drew abandoned her neighborhood for the role as detective for the NYPD, solving grown-up crimes while earning a grown-up salary and dealing with adult issues outside of mystery (likely romance and other relationships).
The series was set to star Sarah Shahi as Nancy, who before she was hired to fill the shoes of one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time appeared regularly on Persons of Interest, as well as spots on Chicago Fire and the iconic lesbian series The L Word. On top of that, Shahi had shone as a star in the sky before; she had the lead role on USA’s Fairly Legal, a Californian law drama in which Shahi played an attorney-turned-mediator who tried to solve disputes all over San Francisco until her network cancelled her.
While this Nancy Drew role wasn’t exactly made with Shahi in mind, the creators behind the series were adamant about one thing–her race.
“She is diverse; that is the way she is written,” said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller to the Hollywood Reporter back during the show’s early development. Hiring a non-white actress to play Nancy was imperative to him because he saw it as a piece of the larger movement at CBS. Recently, the network has been going through a racial reality check, moving to create new content that targets demographics not normally marketed to by mainstream media.
He continued, “we have a lot of new series in development, both series targeted to have full African-American or Latino casts but also many leads that are being developed [as diverse]. We’re not casting color-blind, we’re casting color-conscious.”
So what does it say when a modern version of people like Sandra Day ‘O Connor and Hillary Clinton’s favorite heroine gets the boot? This version of Nancy Drew could, of course, just have fallen victim to the perilous process of pilot season. Regardless of its now nonexistent home at CBS, the show is not dead in the water. CBS Television Studios is attempting to court other networks into buying the series.
One option could be the CW, which recently swiped Supergirl away from CBS as well.