My sister sent me this on Pinterest:
New goal: I’m going to reread all of the Nancy Drew books and count the euphemisms for fat that are used to describe Bess. Also the various ways George is described as a lesbian, but has a boyfriend.
K: I have never read the books.
I have read enough of them for both of us. Bess and George are Nancy’s non-threatening cousins who help her solve mysteries. They are both female, but George is boyish. You can tell, because she goes by George. Bess is sweet and a little bit dumb, or, in literary shorthand, fat.
On the plus side, Nancy rarely needs help from her boyfriend, Ned, and frequently rescues her kidnapped father, Carson Drew, a successful attorney whose cases often overlap with Nancy’s (a fact that is often revealed in the third act and comes as a complete surprise only to Nancy and Carson). Her closest relationship, other than those with her father, Bess, and George, is with the Drews’ housekeeper, Hannah Gruen; Nancy’s mother is dead.
Frankly, these novels were ridiculously progressive, fat- and gender nonconformity-phobia aside. I would maybe improve the series by renaming it Nancy Gruen, Private Eye, but that would take us into an alternate timeline where Hannah raising Nancy is acknowledged more fully.