The proposed Nancy Drew television show starring Sarah Shahi has been cancelled by CBS. According to The Mary Sue, the reason why CBS is passing on the TV show they were so excited about a few months ago is because “the pilot tested well but skewed too female for CBS’ schedule.” That’s right: Nancy Drew, a literary role model for girls for generations, is “too female” for CBS’ viewing audience.
Deadline pointed out the Nancy Drew show technically wasn’t cancelled. CBS simply declined to air it themselves, but the network is looking for other markets for the show about a grown-up Nancy Drew, who would have been a New York police detective.
Drew is not going forward at CBS but is being shopped to other outlets by CBS TV Studios. I hear the pilot tested well but skewed too female for CBS’ schedule.
Unlike The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries on ABC from 1977 to 1979, this show, Drew, would focus on an adult Nancy Drew, no longer a part-time investigator for her lawyer father, but now an NYPD detective. As reported in The Inquisitr, this adaptation would have starred Person of Interest’sSarah Shahi as Detective Nancy Drew. Some people were looking forward to seeing a more diverse casting in this adaptation of Nancy Drew. The Texas-born Sarah Shahi has an Iranian father, and her mother is half-Spanish and half-Iranian.
“Shahi, who is Iranian and Spanish, will be the first person of color to be cast for the role. CBS previously announced early in the year that they’ve been planning to cast a non-white actor in the lead role, showing once again the network’s steadfast commitment to diversity.”
CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller insisted that he wanted the new Nancy Drew to be “diverse.” He preferred a Person of Color (POC) to a Caucasian actress.
“I’d be open to any ethnicity.”
As discussed in Slant News, many people would not consider Sarah Shahi a POC, even though she is three-quarters Iranian and her Person of Interest character, Sameen Shaw, is half-Iranian. However, there’s a big difference between the adult Shahi and “the plucky titian-haired teenager” whose adventures have delighted girls (and boys) since the 1930s.
“A twinkle came into Nancy Drew’s blue eyes. She tossed back her reddish-gold hair.” The Whispering Stature, by Carolyn Keene.
Nancy Drew is no stranger to adapting to changing times — she used to spend half her time jumping onto running boards in the early books, but she gave that up years ago — and hiring an actress who is a person of color to bring diversity to the role is merely another adaptation. Hollywood has a diversity problem, and some scriptwriters and producers are trying to correct that. Other people in Hollywood prefer business as usual.
Some fans are asking whether that diversity is behind CBS’ decision not to go ahead with Drew, a show they’d seemed very excited about just a few months ago. Some fans have pointed out disturbing parallels. Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. killed off the two POC characters, a Native American and an African-American in a wheelchair, when he took over the second season of War of the Worlds. Horror writer Elizabeth Donald pointed out that Castle went from “one of the most diverse casts in police procedurals” to firing three women, including two African-American actresses.
Other fans are wondering how a TV show about Nancy Drew, an American icon and female role model, skews “too female.” Writer Jeffrey Bryson pointed out women are “responsible for most home purchases, which is what advertisers want.”
According to the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, only a third of speaking roles in TV and movies go to women. The statistics for women behind the cameras are even lower. The Inquisitr reported ABC recently fired Stana Katic from Castle. NBC is cancelling The Mysteries of Laura, Fox has announced this is the final season of Bones, and TNT is ending Rizzoli and Isles. For some fans, shooting down Drew before it had a chance to get started is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The awesome-sound Nancy Drew series was killed by CBS because of …. sexism and bigotry? https://t.co/bv978llj22
— Ashley Csanady (@AshleyCsanady) May 16, 2016
Is CBS making a mistake in abandoning Nancy Drew? Will some other network, perhaps Netflix, pick up Drew?
[Photo by TV Festival/PLS Pool/Getty Images]