Is Brenda Leigh Johnson Really Nancy Drew?

Nancy Drew searches for clues
Nancy Drew looks for clues.
Many of us, me included, were first drawn to mysteries by the bravery and the independence of Nancy Drew. Our intrepid heroine prevailed over robbers, forgers, kidnappers and organized crime to help those who couldn’t help themselves.

But as I caught up with episodes so far in this season’s, The Closer, it hit me: Brenda Leigh Johnson is really Nancy Drew. And yes, it’s more than the blonde hair, the beautifully developed cliff hangers and the fact that she always manages to the bad guy while wearing fabulous clothes.

You don’t believe me?

Consider the facts:

Exhibit #1: The Amazing Boyfriend/Husband

Fritz Howard is successful, handsome, funny and reliable. Yes, he is a recovering alcoholic and he hid that from Brenda but so far the problem is under control. In his role as FBI liaison to LAPD, he has managed to revamp his entire job to help her solve murders. Fritz delivers no matter what the cost. You can see the top ten Brenda and Fritz moments here.

Now, think about Ned Nickerson. Like Fritz, Ned drops everything to help Nancy solve her cases. He attends the prestigious (we think) Emerson University and has a bright future. He’s handsome, funny and reliable. Like Brenda and Fritz, Nancy and Ned spend most of their time together fighting crime.

Exhibit #2: Thank you! 

Brenda Leigh is famous for saying “Thank yeeeeww!” with that beautiful southern drawl.  She gives her staff an order, “Thank yeeeew!” She interviews a bad guy, “Thank yeew!” And, the best part is that she tells any one of a number of male bosses to pound sand with that wonderful phrase, you guessed it “Thank yeeeew!”

Brenda Leigh Johnson’s “Thank You” is the modern equivalent of Nancy Drew making a purchase at every shop where she interrogates anyone to get information for her case.

Seriously, by the time Nancy gets to book #50 The Double Jinx Mystery, poor Carson Drew’s house is filled from floor to ceiling with horribly tacky knick knacks. Maybe she had room for that old clock, but everything else would go unsold at a half-price yard sale.

Times have changed. Brenda Leigh has transformed the purchase of knick knacks into the finality of a gratuitous greeting turned into a power play. Awesome.

Exhibit #3: The Posse

Brenda Leigh Johnson has an entire police department as her posse – Sergeant Gabriel (who may not be such an angel), the dynamic duo of Flynn and Provenza (Remember the episode where they found a body, but decided to go to the Dodgers/Giants game first?).  She ropes in Will Pope, Russell Taylor and Sharon Raydor (formerly President Roslin from Battlestar Gallactica – who also has a lot in common with Nancy Drew). None of these people like Brenda at first, but now everyone solves crimes the Brenda Leigh way.

And of course, our Nancy has a posse as well…Bess, George, Ned, Her father — lawyer, Carson Drew – Hannah Gruen, Ned and the gang. Helen Corning. All of them, with the exception of Hannah, also solve crimes Nancy’s way.

Brenda Leigh Johnson’s secret stash? Chocolate and Nancy Drew.
Brenda Leigh’s true secret addiction?
Yes, Brenda is older and lives in a more complicated and sophisticated world, full of grey areas, candy binges, and second guessing, but then again we never got to see what Nancy would be like after twenty years of fighting crime.

Although TNT previously announced that 2011 would be the last season of the Closer, they have now said that in addition to ten shows this summer, and five over the winter, there will be an additional six episodes in summer 2012 to set up a spin off (more on that later).

So luckily, we don’t have to say goodbye to Brenda and her secret chocolate binges just yet.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    What a grand comparison! And thanks for the news that we will have eleven more shows and a SPIN OFF!! I am giddy with anticipation.

  2. Carmen Pinzon

    Me too! I love this show and was mourning it already. Eleven more episodes sounds like a nice reprieve, and a spinoff? Fantastic.

  3. Deborah Lacy

    An update for Closer fans who are Twitter users…Kyra Sedgwick will be live tweeting during the summer finale of The Closer this Monday night at 9 PT. You can follow her @kyrasedgwick

  4. Manda Collins

    Yay! I had not heard about the reprieve! That’s fantastic news! And you make a good case (get it? “case”?) for Brenda’s similarities to our favorite girl sleuth. Though I happen to think Fritz is way hotter than Ned. Still, both excellent boyfriend material!

  5. Terrie Farley Moran

    And the next five shows will air in November–that is very close to now.

  6. chl

    Love the comparison! Quick trip down memory lane from all the Nancy Drew books I read and a fun side by side with a show I love. Thanks!

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