Monday night’s premiere of “The Carrie Diaries” on The CW, might not have drawn big numbers, but I watched out of curiosity. Since it shoots in NYC and has been talked about for quite some time, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, “Sex and the City” is one of the most beloved TV shows of all time now, and Carrie Bradshaw will forever be part of TV history. However, the prequel series seemed like it could end up being a misfire. The promos didn’t really look good. AnnaSophia Robb, who once seemed like a great choice to play young Carrie (and who is prettier than what Sarah Jessica Parker looked like at that age), looked a little wonky. So I watched it just to see how corny or bad it could be… but I was surprised. It’s actually GOOD!
For any of you out there who like classic movies like “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” where Christina Applegate’s character goes from suburban teenage life to pretending to be a high-powered fashion exec in the city, you’ll like this show too. In the pilot we meet Carrie, a high school student who has just recently lost her mom to cancer, so life with her father and sister is weird right now. She luckily has a group of cute, totally vanilla friends at her Connecticut school, who give her the support and “girl talk” that she needs (one of them is in the process of realizing he’s gay), but she’s missing something. All of her friends have pretty much already had sex, and she remains the solo virgin (how refreshing!) But uh oh, there’s a Chord Overstreet lookalike who’s new to town, and Carrie’s got her eye on him. Even though he’s cool and has great hair, she’s still hungry for something the other kids aren’t hungry for yet. And that something is NYC… the “other man” in her life… “Manhattan,” as her voice-over says towards the end of the episode.
She goes to NYC to check it out and intern for a law firm, based on her father’s suggestion, and at Century 21, she bumps into a super fun, 80s colored “Interview” magazine employee named Larissa. Larissa just LOVES Carrie’s funky bag she painted, and the two hit it off. This is where the show gets fun. Larissa, thinking Carrie is older than she looks, and assuming that Carrie is sleeping with her boss, invites Carrie out to a night of drinking and partying with other funky, crazy, colorful friends. She even buys Carrie a dress and sends it to the law firm! Whoa now! She tells her boss it’s just for the school dance (her boss thinks it’s so risque and Madonna-inspired, when it’s actually quite tame for our times). Carrie puts it on and hits the bar, where she hangs out with NYC icon Waris Ahluwalia (who I’ve met and worked with before, and is awesome!) and dances with gay guys… another Whoa now! She has the time of her life, but must get back to the Connecticut suburbs. She skipped the dance, but has started a love affair with the city. And I’m actually interested in what happens next!
When I watched “Sex and the City,” I didn’t quite know this would be how Carrie’s story started, but it’s interesting, and a perfect fit for the CW. Is it meant to be an hour long? Not sure… Is the fashion and music so over the top that it adds an immediate camp factor to the show? YES and that’s fun. This pilot lays some good ground work for a show that could really play up the “double life” storyline, since Carrie’s NYC lifestyle will surely take over her Connecticut lifestyle, and therefore cause tension with her family and friends there. We never do see Carrie’s childhood friends visit her in NYC in “Sex and the City” do we?
Another thing to note is the lack of the World Trade Center in the scene where Carrie goes to Century 21 downtown. I actually hadn’t noticed this, but read an article wondering why it wasn’t added in there digitally. For a show that seemed to really play up 80s details, did it purposely leave out the twin towers so it wouldn’t be a sad moment? or did they just forget? Hmm… Either way, it’s a lighter, more a fun show than “Gossip Girl” was before it ended, so it’s a welcome presence on Monday nights.