The paper girl time-traveling story from Amazon is a series about death, with its many other themes, including gender division and trauma, as well as a time war. What struck me, though, was that a lot of its uniformly excellent cast play characters who learn of their own ends long before it happens, leaving them to confront head-on the one thing we can all avoid: death.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the first season of Paper Girls.]
It's a case of Mac Coyle, played by Sofia Rosinsky, who has to deal with some of the show's darkest themes. She's the most cynical of the four titular paper girls, who's been through a tumultuous upbringing, with absentee parents and violence, leaving her all her barbs feeling fragile, concealing a lot of distress she isn't yet old enough to endure. It's cruel and unfair. And the program doesn
Dylan, Mac's older brother, greets her in 2019 as if he had seen a ghost (which he has). He quickly assumes the role of guardian, eager to protect Mac and make up for their terrible childhood.
He is a bit of a surrogate for adult viewers eager to protect Mac. He intends to catch the cancer early, pretend she is a niece, and fold her into his now-affluent family. In his own words, he's given you the life you deserve. The loss of his sister has resurgence, as he goes through a career that has shaped him forever. Perhaps there's a sense of guilt, a sense of a debt to be paid for the life
Mac tries to hide her flaws from him and the other girls. She is not the only one who struggles to keep herself to herself. But while the other characters have to deal with death, including poor Larry, who bites the dust twice, it is the kids who remain the focus.
Riley Lai Nelet portrays well the isolation of being not just the new girl, but someone distant from their community and their grief because of their race and responsibilities, especially after she has to watch her older self die saving the group in the future. It leaves her feeling isolated from the group yet again.
Tiff, as an adult, has an obligation to manage her own affairs, despite the fact that she has no choice but to die for her friends. In a scene in episode four delivered by Camryn Jones so powerfully, she is trying to maintain her identity among adults, while also having to face her lack of experience.
Fina Strazza's performance allows her to masterfully misdirect from her strength, allowing Tiff and Erin to be separated from each other as they confront their dark futures. She then helps Mac share the news with the others, an act that finally strengthens the bond between the two.
Stranger Things and The Wilds have put adolescents in danger for the time being, but they are often outright tragic or tragic. They are big moments, built up to with fanfare (and probably too much signposting) that offer a sense of sorrow for their loss. Theres no resolution, only an acknowledgement that it is brutally unfair.
Paper Girls may be argued over whether or not it is suitable for children. However, with its central cast, older people are kept in mind. That's a precious thing. Even as an adult, it's a reminder that kids deserve autonomy and room to deal with the harsh realities that are thrust upon them.
Paper Girls is the only story that embodies that feeling in a youngster. We instinct, therefore, are to protect children from these horrific realities. Whether we like it or not, kids have to confront all kinds of difficulties that we wish we could handle in adulthood.
Season 1 of Paper Girls is now available on Amazon Prime Video.