Even though former Bardot member Belinda Chapple served as executive producer on Paramount+’s new series Paper Dolls, the cast is adamant that it is not based on a true story and the popular band’s rise to fame.
While some would notice that a particular storyline about stealing in the first episode may replicate the one that dominated headlines in 2000, four of the five Harlow band members (and core cast) including Emalia, Miah Madden, Courtney Clarke and Courtney Monsma say that’s the closest we’ll get.
“It shows what life is like for pop stars when the smoke and mirrors have blown away,” she said.
While holding similarities to stories of yesteryear, Clarke said that it “would be impossible” for the narratives they tell to not have “happened at least once if not multiple, multiple times in the industry for different kinds of popstars.”
“Behind the glitz and glamour is just a lot of hard work and self-discovery and also learning about the world not always being what you might hope it to be like,” she said.
Dark concepts breathe life into Paper Dolls
According to Monsma, the series follows the fictional group and “the rise and fall of their time in the spotlight” — alongside members of a fictional recording label which includes acting roles from Emma Booth, Ditch Davey and Thomas Coquerel. With this, each character has a clear backstory revealed during the episodes, ultimately tying into the one-story arc.
In fact, having such unique characters thrown together gives way for the series to touch on an abundance of concepts including breakdowns, inappropriate relationships within power dynamics, father issues and self-harm.
The gripping first instalment follows Emalia’s Izzy, who is the only one of the five girls who previously had a solo career as a teen.
“She was a bit of a sensation and then it went awry,” she said. “Having come from a solo career and moving into that space, you can imagine there’s a tension and it’s a bit of an odd dynamic to have to navigate. But we also see the way that she has to navigate her ties to the label from her past and the way it will affect her future.”
Adding that she’s “never seen something like this” [TV show], she admitted it was “great that the show was not shying away from that aspect”.
“As a whole, I think fame and the industry is about both the highs and the lows happening at the same time,” she said. “I think the show does that in a great way. It has weight and a great way of capturing that without shying away from those dark elements.
“I feel like it’s safe and easy to focus on the glamorous side, but the other part of it is that we don’t get to see behind the scenes which is very real and something that deserves attention and conversation.”
Stream Paper Dolls from December 3 on Paramount+.