This is the same creative team that was behind the 2016 CBS pilot of the same name. But beyond the title and the underlying source material, there is very little in common between the projects as NBC’s is based on a brand-new idea by Phelan and Rater.
In NBC’s Nancy Drew, written by the duo, when the author of the most famous female teen detective book series is thrust into a real-life murder mystery, who does she turn to for help? Her two best friends from childhood, who were the inspiration for all those books and the women who have a real ax to grind about the way their supposed best friend chose to portray them all those years ago.
The new take in a way stems from of the CBS pilot, which came close to a series order. That project starred Sarah Shahi as Nancy — now in her 30s — a detective for the NYPD. The pickup decision came down to the wire, with the network opting instead for Phelan and Rater’s other pilot that year, legal drama Doubt.
“We did a pilot and we tried to forget about it but we couldn’t; we loved the characters so much,” Rater said. “But we knew that we had to come up with a different way to go about it.”
That different way was to envision Nancy, who wrote the books based on her childhood explorations with her two childhood girlfriends but took some liberties, always casting herself as the heroine, relegating the characters based on her friends as the sidekicks.
As a result, “She found fame but in the process lost her best friends,” Phelan said.
The series is about Nancy getting back together with her girlfriends as they all are now women of a certain age, in their 40s or 50s. Overcoming the inevitable bad blood, they pull on their strength, which is their knack for solving mysteries together.
Their age “we think is their superpower; no one notices them when they walk in. It’s a way for them to fly under the radar,” Rater said. “They talk about how they feel unseen.”
Phelan and Rater have been under an overall deal at CBS TV Studios, where they created and executive produced series Doubt for CBS in addition to the Nancy Drew pilot. Before that they were at ABC Studios, where they worked for nine seasons on Shondaland’s Grey’s Anatomy as executive producers and served as co-showrunners for their last three seasons.
Phelan and Rater are repped by UTA and Myman Greenspan. Jinks is repped by UTA and Bloom Hergott.