Outrage after CBS Declines to Pick Up ‘Diverse’ Nancy Drew Reboot for Skewing ‘Too Female’

Sarah Shahi Reuters

Feminists on Twitter were up in arms Monday over reports that CBS had passed on the Nancy Drew TV reboot it had been developing because, as Deadline reported over the weekend, it “skewed too female for [its] schedule.”

CBS Television Studios had been developing Drew, a contemporary update of the classic children’s detective series that sees an adult Nancy Drew as an NYPD officer who solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills. A casting call for the show caused a stir in January when it was announced that producers were seeking women of “any ethnicity” except white for the lead role; Person of Interest actress Sarah Shahi was eventually cast in the role.

But CBS decided to pass on the show, even after the pilot reportedly tested well in focus groups. The legal drama Doubt — starring transgender actor Laverne Cox in what will be a historic turn as the first transgender actor every to play a trans character as a regular in a TV series — got picked up instead. Both shows were written by husband-and-wife Grey’s Anatomy scribes Tony Phelan and Joan Rater.

According to Deadline, CBS passed on the Nancy Drew reboot because the program, in the publication’s exact words, “skewed too female for CBS’ schedule.”

Naturally, that explanation was enough to rile up social media. The hashtag #toofemale trended for a time on Twitter Monday.


The news also generated plenty of column inches in left-wing outlets like Jezebel and the Huffington Post. Jezebel’s JE Reich wrote that, when combined with the fact that Nancy was to be played by a woman of color in Shahi, the news of Drew’s cancellation is “enough to make me sit shiva.”

The headline in the UK’s Metro was more accusatory: “CBS apparently had a really sexist reason to pass on this on this Nancy Drew TV series.”

CBS TV is reportedly shopping the series to different networks.

In her own statements on Twitter, Shahi thanked fans for their support and remained optimistic about the future.

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum



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