Nancy Drew is the kind of iconic fictional character who has been adapted many times for the screen, starting in the 1930s with a few movies. After Emma Roberts played the famous sleuth in the 2007 film Nancy Drew and Sophia Lillis took on the role in the 2019 film Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, plus some TV shows, it was time for a more recent TV adaptation.
Kennedy McMann stars as Nancy in the new CW drama, which has plenty of surprises, exciting characters, and nostalgia for fans to get into. It's the kind of series that feels both fresh and brand new but also has an old-fashioned quality to it. It also reminds us of another teenage detective show: Veronica Mars. Let's compare the two shows and see how they fare next to each other. Here are five things that Nancy Drew does better than Veronica Mars, and five reasons why Kristen Bell's series is the best one.
10 Nancy Drew: The Atmosphere
The atmosphere of the CW Nancy Drew show totally beats out Veronica Mars. The Kristen Bell-starring drama is shot like a typical teen show, and it's fairly bright and colorful. There are a few nice shots of Veronica and her dad, Keith (Enrico Colantoni), working in their office, but the way that the show is filmed isn't really anything special.
Nancy Drew, on the other hand, has an incredible atmosphere that is tough to look away from. The creepy tone of the series and the fog sets a great mood. There's a lot of color contrast as well: a lot of the scenes in the pilot are shot at night, making everything very dark and spooky, but Nancy's wearing a bright blue waitress uniform.
9 Veronica Mars: The Relationships
Sure, Nancy Drew is a new show, but her relationship with Ned Nickerson (Tunji Kasim) is pretty standard teen drama fare. Yes, they like each other, and yes, they have problems and obstacles that they have to get through.
Veronica Mars may be about solving mysteries and getting bad guys, but it's also known (and praised) for its relationships, too. Who can forget the love triangle between Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), Veronica, and Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn)? Or even the non-romantic relationships, like the friendship between Veronica and Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) or Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie (Tina Majorino)? The show always had so much heart.
8 Nancy Drew: The Seaside Town Setting
While Neptune has its moments, it's honestly just a dull California town that feels like it's seen better days. A lot of the buildings look like they could use a new paint job and some attention, from Veronica's apartment complex to her dad's office to her high school.
Nancy Drew has a much better setting as it takes place in the seaside town of Horseshoe Bay, Maine. Even the name alone is awesome. It definitely looks the kind of place where something bad is going to happen (and, of course, a lot of bad things have already occurred). And it's just plain beautiful to look at. You almost want to grab a cup of coffee or bowl of soup at The Claw... although, maybe not now that someone was killed right outside...
7 Veronica Mars: The Father/Daughter Connection
Nancy is pretty pissed at her dad, Carsen Drew (played by Scott Wolf), since her mom passed away from cancer and the two have zero relationship now. It would be impossible to say that their father/daughter connection is anywhere close to the one that Veronica and Keith Mars share.
Veronica Mars portrays this family bond a lot better, and it's such a real family dynamic that it often feels like a documentary. They take turns making dinner, although it's often junk food (which is adorable), and they try their best to keep certain things private. It's hard to see Nancy and Carson ever sharing this type of bond.
6 Nancy Drew: Nancy's Backstory
Since fans don't get to spend a ton of screen time with Veronica's mom, it never really feels like she's a big, important part of the show. Sure, her disappearance is kind of interesting, but she's not a very well-developed character. It feels like Keith and Veronica are supposed to be a father/daughter duo.
Nancy's backstory is a lot more compelling. The fact that her mom died of cancer and she pushed her college plans aside makes her a sympathetic hero. After all, she's not perfect, and she's had some tough times. And it's clear that she used to be a super brilliant detective but has taken a bit of a backseat... although now things are changing. It'll be cool to see what she can solve and find out.
5 Veronica Mars: The Mysteries
Sure, it's creepy that a socialite was killed in the pilot of Nancy Drew, and Nancy seems pretty adept when it comes to solving mysteries and finding things that others can't. But honestly, no mystery on the new CW drama can hold a candle to the ones on Veronica Mars.
Each season has a fascinating focus: Lilly Kane's murder in the first season, the bus crash in the second, the campus assaults in the third, and the beachy real estate plot in the fourth. And, of course, every episode follows the mystery-of-the-week formula that fans have grown to love.
4 Nancy Drew: The Pilot
The pilot of Nancy Drew is also a lot better than the first episode of Veronica Mars. While the latter was fine for letting fans know what the show would be about, from Keith and Veronica's adorable banter to Lily's murder, the former really shines in its inaugural episode.
Everything is interesting, from learning about Nancy's family history to the fact that she deferred her college dreams to the cast of characters at The Claw, the restaurant where she works. And, of course, the two mysteries are still pretty great: the socialite who was killed and the legend of Lucy Sable.
3 Veronica Mars: The Humor And Clever Wit
Not many episodes of Nancy Drew have aired yet, but the jokes and sense of humor on the show don't even come close to the clever dialogue on Veronica Mars. Whether the teen sleuth is chatting with her dad, Wallace, or literally anyone else, she always has a good comeback.
For example, when Wallace says, "I was gonna hang out with some of the guys on the team at lunch" Veronica's reply is, "And ruin the sanctity of our lunch duo? You know that'll send me crying to the bathroom." It's hard to imagine Nancy Drew, which is a bit more serious, having a line like that.
2 Nancy Drew: The End Of The Pilot Twist
When Nancy Drew begins, viewers learn about Lucy Sable. She died almost 20 years before and it seems like she slipped off the town cliff. As Nancy narrates, "Dead Lucy. Horseshoe Bay's most infamous sea queen wore her crown for only one night. People say she still haunts our town."
That would be awesome enough... but then the ending of the pilot brings an incredible twist. Nancy goes into the attic in her house and sees a dress with blood all over it that is, yup, Lucy's.
1 Veronica Mars: The Main Character
The final thing that Veronica Mars does better than the CW Nancy Drew show? That would be the portrayal of the main character. While Nancy is cool and all, no one can ever beat Veronica Mars, the greatest detective and person around.
Veronica is the perfect mix of vulnerable and tough, and she loves to help people, even if she sometimes has a bias against rich people (which is totally fair given what she's experienced in Neptune). She doesn't even act like a teenager... except when it comes to broken hearts and other dating mishaps. Then she locks herself in her room and cries. And honestly, that's so endearing because it's a reminder that she's a relatable character. While Nancy Drew has its strengths, the main character just doesn't measure up to the beloved Veronica Mars.