TV Rewind | The Carrie Diaries: The Sex and the City prequel that tried and failed


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    Earlier this week, we heard about And Just Like That, another sequel in the Sex and The City (SATC) universe that we did not know we needed. SATC had a full life with six seasons and two movies, and the lesser-known prequel series, The Carrie Diaries.

    Starring AnnaSophia Robb in the lead role of Carrie Bradshaw, which was famously played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the HBO series, The Carrie Diaries lasted for two seasons (2013-2014) and left the audience and critics quite confused. While The Carrie Diaries was a sweet show independently, it had absolutely no connection with the world of SATC. In my opinion, the show would have done much better if they had just removed all the SATC references.

    With And Just Like That adding itself into the SATC universe, this is the right time to reflect on The Carrie Diaries.

    What is The Carrie Diaries all about?

    The Carrie Diaries sets itself up as the prequel to Sex and the City and tries to reveal ‘What made Carrie the way she is’, but in a PG fashion. Here, we see Carrie living a simple suburban life with her father and sister as the family is dealing with the tragic loss of the matriarch. There’s a strong Mean Girls kind-of track going on at her school, a boy who is like a junior Mr Big and the obsession with New York and fashion is still in its initial stages.

    Carrie is a 16-year-old girl who is still discovering her love for fashion but knows that she wants to be a writer. Her friend group is quite diverse, but somehow, it feels like the show is just trying to overcompensate for the extreme Caucasian-ness of the HBO series. Even her family life feels quite manufactured as the spin-off just throws out all the backstory that we learnt in SATC.

    the carrie diaries The Carrie Diaries’ attempt at inclusivity felt half-hearted. (Photo: The CW)

    The characters on The Carrie Diaries

    The central character, played by AnnaSophia Robb, was perfectly cast but it was the writing of the character that made the series quite alien for the loyalists. While making a spin-off, it is expected that the show will be compared to its original, but in this case, the two were set in different worlds altogether. One lived a not-so-censored life on HBO in the 90s, while the other was living a protected teenage life on The CW (known for Gossip Girl) in the mid-2010s. So even the audience who had once identified with Carrie and her gang was left dumbfounded when they saw this vanilla version.

    Carrie’s sister Dorrit, played by Stefania LaVie Owen, is a jaded 14-year-old in her makeup-wearing goth phase and her father Tom, played by Matt Letscher, is trying to control two teenagers while still reeling in grief. In all honesty, this entire home-life track for Carrie felt like it could have been any other teen show, and the same is true for her school track as well. Carrie is shown to have a bunch of best friends who just exist to tick-off cliches from a list.

    The Carrie Diaries tries to kick into the next gear as the protagonist comes to New York to start an internship at a law firm, which she quits for a job at a fashion magazine. Here, we meet the show’s most interesting character Larissa, played by Freema Agyeman, who introduces Carrie to the world of parties and fashion. In any other show, we would have gone gaga over her, but here, she appears to be a lite-version of Samantha, and that doesn’t fit right in a show where we are expecting a young-Samantha to pop in any second.

    What did not work for The Carries Diaries?

    The Carrie Diaries’ worst enemy was its legacy. The show was burdened with the success of SATC and the films that followed. The show was based on author Candace Bushnell’s book of the same name. Candance’s book Sex and The City was the source material for the HBO series, but all of that background did not help The Carrie Diaries in taking off.

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    While the show was trying to narrate 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 famously flawed personality, but her teenage-version was just another teen living in the 1980s.

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