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Earlier this week we heard about And Just Like That, another sequel to the Sex and The City (SATC) universe that we didn’t know we needed. SATC had a full life with six seasons and two films and the lesser-known prequel series The Carrie Diaries.
Starring AnnaSophia Robb, who played Carrie Bradshaw on the HBO series by Sarah Jessica Parker, The Carrie Diaries lasted two seasons (2013-2014), leaving audiences and critics quite confused. While The Carrie Diaries was a cute show independently, it had absolutely no connection to the world of SATC. In my opinion, the show would have done much better if only it had removed all of the SATC references.
With And Just Like That inserting itself into the SATC universe, this is the right time to start thinking about The Carrie Diaries.
What is the Carrie Diaries about?
The Carrie Diaries establish themselves as the forerunners of Sex and the City, trying to reveal what Carrie made for what she is, but in a PG way. Here we see Carrie lead a simple suburban life with her father and sister as the family grapples with the tragic loss of the Matriarch. In their school there is a strong trail of Mean Girls, a boy who is like a junior Mr Big, and the New York and fashion obsession is still in its infancy.
Carrie is a 16 year old girl who is still discovering her love for fashion but knows she wants to become a writer. Her group of friends is quite diverse, but somehow the show just seems to be trying to overcompensate for the extreme Caucasian nature of the HBO series. Even their family life feels pretty manufactured, as the spin-off just throws away all of the backstory we learned in SATC.
The characters in The Carrie Diaries
The central character, played by AnnaSophia Robb, was perfectly cast, but it was the character’s writing that made the series quite alien to the Loyalists. During a spin-off, the show is expected to be compared to its original, but in this case the two were filmed in different worlds overall. One lived a not-so-censored life on HBO in the 90s, while the other led a sheltered teenage life on The CW (known for Gossip Girl) in the mid-2010s. Even the audience that once identified with Carrie and her gang were stunned when they saw this vanilla version.
Carrie’s sister Dorrit, played by Stefania LaVie Owen, is a jaded 14-year-old in her makeup goth phase, and her father Tom, played by Matt Letscher, tries to control two teenagers while they are still in grief . Honestly, for Carrie, this entire home life track felt like it could have been any other teen show, and that goes for her school track too. Carrie has a ton of best friends who just exist to check off stereotypes from a list.
The Carrie Diaries are trying to shift into next gear when the protagonist comes to New York to begin an internship at a law firm that she quits for a job with a fashion magazine. Here we meet the most interesting character in the series, Larissa, played by Freema Agyeman, who introduces Carrie to the world of parties and fashion. On any other show we would have passed her over, but here she seems to be a lite version of Samantha, and that doesn’t fit into a show where we expect a young Samantha to show up every second.
What didn’t work on The Carries Diaries?
The Carrie Diaries’ worst enemy was their legacy. The show was weighed down with the success of SATC and the films that followed. The show is based on the book of the same name by author Candace Bushnell. Candance’s book Sex and The City was the starting material for the HBO series, but all of that background didn’t help The Carrie Diaries get started.
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While the show tried to tell the backstory of Carrie, it never felt true to the character as we had already seen her in her 30s and 40s. Carrie had a notoriously flawed personality, but her teen version was just another teenager who lived in the 1980s.