know what will happen when you grow up

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Admittedly, we can clearly see the dotted lines along which these Paper Girls: Ronald Reagan is still president – ​​not for long, we are in 1988 – a small band of teenagers is confronted with an apocalyptic phenomenon. But it only takes one episode for this family resemblance with Stranger Things goes to the background. The architecture of Paper Girls obeys a principle exactly opposite to that which governs the series of the brothers Matt and Ross Duffer.

There where Stranger Things works to recreate and surpass the shows created forty years ago by Steven Spielberg or Joe Dante – it is up to the characters and their interpreters to give a little flesh to this enterprise –, Paper Girls is entirely dedicated to exploring the psyche of its quartet of heroines. If they are rushed, despite themselves, from one era to another – the first season wanders between 1988 and 2019, via 1999 – it is to better explore their preadolescent torments.

Erin (Riley Lai Nelet), Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), Tiff (Camryn Jones) and KJ (Fina Strazza) reunite at the dawn of the 1er November to distribute the Cleveland Preserve in a residential suburb of metropolitan Ohio. The quartet at first seems stereotypical: a shy Chinese immigrant girl, a smoking and swearing tomboy, a gifted African-American and a Jewish princess – they only have 12 in common. On the day after Halloween, they cross paths with temporal guerrillas who face mysterious forces of order, dressed in immaculate white uniforms.

Intellectual speculation

In their desperate flight, the young girls take a capsule that drops them off thirty-one years later, in the same place. In the days of smartphones and voice recognition – and since we are on Prime, it will be Android and Siri instead – they are getting to know their future incarnations. This confrontation is the price of the series.

The author of comics from which it is taken, Brian K. Vaughan, is also that of Y, the last man (Urban Comics), apocalyptic story that imagined the extinction of the male half of the human species, whose adaptation, in 2021, lasted only one season. We find in Paper Girls the same taste for intellectual speculation and the same concern for allowing all the contradictions of the characters to flourish. It’s a bit as if the enthusiastic young people of the Three Musketeers crossed paths with the disillusioned and damaged men of Twenty years later.

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