In the Nancy Drew book series, it’s typical for readers to associate Nancy with dating Ned. Many fans weren’t too happy when the CW show premiered, and the couple split partway through the first season. Fans felt they missed out on the infamous relationship since audiences only saw the tail end. However, the show creators and writers felt that it would’ve been too predictable to see Nancy (Kennedy McMann) and Ned (Tunji Kasim) from the beginning. I have to say, I agree with them. Here’s why.
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In the Books
In the original books, Ned is Nancy’s romantic interest, and they slowly become entangled in a relationship. However, in later books, they split up, and Nancy dates other guys. At one point, Ned proposes to Nancy, and she turns him down. Many of us forget this, or some of us never read any of the other ghost-written novels and fixate on Ned and Nancy being together. Even in the originals, though, they weren’t too serious. For instance, if Ned couldn’t attend a dance with Nancy, she would find another date to take with her. The two wanted different things out of the relationship, which is true for the books and TV show.
Lack of Trust
The first element that truly drove Ned and Nancy apart was their lack of trust. This was a crucial element in the novels, as well. Initially, Ned broke up with Nancy because he felt she was keeping too many secrets from him due to her detective work. The show follows this plotline to a tee. The two are immediately keeping secrets from each other from the first episode. They constantly argue about the secrets each of them keeps but then continue to hold things back.
When Ned begins dating George (Leah Lewis), she’s initially keeping a secret. At this point, another soul resides in her body that takes over at night, and George keeps this from him for a long time. However, her secret-keeping isn’t a deal breaker for him. After he learns the truth, the two work together to rid George of Odette (Anja Savcic). From then on, they don’t keep secrets from each other.
While it takes Nancy three seasons to realize it, she’s been in love with Ace (Alex Saxon) for the entire series. Looking back on their friendship, they never kept secrets from each other. Nancy and Ace have always been able to tell each other everything. As I hope most of us know, trusting your partner is a huge must.
If we think about it, Ned and Nancy weren’t good together. They spent most of their time together encouraging each other's bad habits, like lying and keeping secrets. Nancy would hold something back, and Ned would yell at her later for not telling him. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to get yelled at, either. This was an endless cycle that would’ve kept going if the two hadn’t split.
Ned and Nancy breaking up forced both of their characters to grow. Ned eventually began dating George, who has three little sisters she cares for and supports. Ned starts helping out, becoming another shoulder for the girls to lean on. He also learns how to have serious conversations with George that don’t involve raising his voice.
Nancy also grows, holding fewer secrets to herself and becoming less self-centered. She seems to care more about the people surrounding her and about what’s going on in their lives.
Lack of On-Screen Chemistry
One of the things I love most about this show and the screenwriters is that they let the characters and actors dictate the relationships. They paid attention to the chemistry between the actors on set. Ned and Nancy didn’t have great chemistry, and watching them try to be “intimate” characters was pretty cringe-worthy. Seeing them as friends was much easier to stomach; it just felt better.
Ned and George have had wonderful chemistry on-screen; it’s largely why their relationship has moved so quickly throughout the show. Although, there was some backlash from the fans that it was too fast. From this, the writers had the characters take a step back from each other, showing the depth of their chemistry as we see them mourn each other.
Conversely, Nancy has gotten to explore her chemistry with several characters. First, with Owen Marvin (Miles Gaston Villanueva) before his untimely death due to Algacea’s Curse. Then with Gil Bobbsey (Praneet Akilla) in Season Two, and Agent Park (John Harlan Kim) in Season Three. Finally, after three seasons of watching the chemistry and tension grow between Nancy and Ace, the two are paired together.
This ties in with trust. Nancy and Ned were never good at communicating with each other. A lot of time, if the conversation was serious, they wound up arguing or yelling at each other. Or they just didn’t talk at all. Neither is a good choice for communicating with your partner. They seemed to bring out the worst in each other.
The audience sees both characters communicate with others throughout the series, whether partners or friends, without issues. Even Nancy and Ned, as friends, seem to have an easier time; the pressure of the relationship made it stilted.
Season Four has just begun, with George and Ned freshly broken up and Ace and Nancy cursed. Who’s to say they don’t wind up together again? But I wouldn’t bet on it. Catch “Nancy Drew” streaming on Max.