May 3, 2018
MY GUILTY PLEASURE: The Carrie Diaries
I was never into the Sex And the City franchise. Mostly because I was too young during its original 1998-2004 to appreciate a show about women in their thirties talking about sex and the city. But the series defined a generation of women into Carries, Charlottes, Mirandas, and Samanthas who were eager to buy all sorts of merchandise–DVDs, posters, character-inspired outfits, and tickets to two theatrical releases.
Well, one theatrical release anyway. The second SATC movie was terrible (which is excusable in Hollywood) and performed terribly (which isn’t). Adult women were no longer so enamored with the show that they’d buy tickets no matter what, and since quality isn’t something Hollywood thinks it has any control over, that meant it was time to pull the plug on Carrie’s big screen (mis)adventures altogether despite Sarah Jessica Parker’s cryptic promises that there will be a third one.
Unable to milk any more cash out of Generation X, the execs decided to turn their attention to the Millennials. Luckily for them, Candace Bushnell, author of the newspaper column that inspired SATC, also wrote a prequel novel about Carrie’s adventures as a teenager. The CW picked it up, hoping to create a new audience for the franchise and capitalize on the revival of 80s fashion trends.
The show followed a teenage Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb), who is growing up in 1984 Connecticut while dealing with the loss of her mother and other teenage problems like love and dating, and who lands an internship at Interview magazine where she begins to blossom into the woman we all know from the HBO series. It was a crappy teenfest with soapy melodrama, historically inaccurate outfits, and a soundtrack that was clearly ripped off from a Greatest Hits of the 80s CD (cassette tape?) from the bargain bin.
AND YET I LOVED IT.
I never watched it during its original two season run, which wrapped up in 2014. But then I found it on Netflix, and I was like, “Oh, I’ll watch one episode of this stupid show and make fun of it so I can feel superior.” Now I’m in love and genuinely disappointed that season 3 never happened.
Fine, the SATC References Are Cute
Of course, when your series is a prequel, you shouldn’t resist throwing in a couple references to the original franchise. It was kind of fun counting all the wink winks and nudge nudges to the future, such as Carrie’s first introduction to Manolo Blahniks, and Larissa’s proclamation to Carrie that she could “see your picture on the side of a bus!” and Mr. Bradshaw’s disbelief that yes, women do sit around and talk about sex to their friends. It was fun seeing characters be blissfully unaware about their futures.
Carrie should drink a few Cosmos to deal with the impending SATC 2.
MARTHA JONES IS HERE!
Martha Jones was one of my favorite Doctor Who companions, and I did a little squeal when I saw Freema Agyeman enter the screen as Carrie’s fashionable and super cool boss at Interview magazine. Larissa was the carefree woman that Carrie Bradshaw was supposed to be and was better at it–she had the super cool job in publishing, crazy sex stories, and a cool wardrobe without Carrie’s stupid internal monologue that was constantly doubting her choices. Larissa plowed through life and love with great enthusiasm and sassy one-liners. Ugh, why couldn’t this be The Larissa Diaries instead?
You said it, Larissa.
Dorrit Bradshaw Is the Coolest
I know the opening voiceover explains that “Before there was sex, before there was the city, there was just me–Carrie Bradshaw,” but damn was pre-SATC Carrie boring. She was a goody two shoes who was the last person in her group to lose her virginity…and was even shy about talking about sex afterwards. Thankfully, the show created a new character: Carrie’s younger sister Dorrit, who became the super cool one.
Over the series, Dorrit smoked pot, stole a hamster and named it Morrissey, struck up a romance with a record store employee after getting caught shoplifting, dumps him when he gets too clingy, throws a kick ass rager, and meets a new boyfriend at said rager. Meanwhile, Carrie just cried about her boyfriend and brought coffee to Larissa. Seriously, did the writers not realize that they were writing literally everyone else to be cooler than Carrie Bradshaw? Unfortunately, the series has been cancelled so I will not get to hear about any more of Dorrit’s adventures. And she was a character created just for the prequel series, so there’s not even a chance I’ll get to see her future incarnation on the original HBO show. How am I going to live?
I’ll try not to, Dorrit Bradshaw.
The Costuming Is Eye-catching–For All the Wrong Reasons
I love period shows and movies. I love the effort that costume designers put into making sure every detail is historically accurate and yet each character has a distinct style. I especially love it when costume designers are unafraid to dress their characters in clothes that are not always appealing to modern eyes but true to the time period.
So you can imagine the conniption I had when I watched The Carrie Diaries because this
I know it’s unfair of me to expect that the CW would pool its budget into making sure they got every crimped curl and oversized sweatshirt just right, but it seems to me like the wardrobe department decided to hire a blind hooker to pick out the costumes and call it the 1980s.
Against Your Will, You Still Get Sucked into the Drama
I was watching episode 12 of the first season where Carrie attempts to orchestrate the perfect night to say “I love you” to her boyfriend Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) but the night keeps going wrong–first he can’t get into the club, then she has to ditch him to help an editor friend get quotes, and then she keeps asking him if he’s mad at her and surprise! When you keep poking someone and asking them if they’re mad at you, you will eventually get them mad at you. Sebastian tells Carrie that she is being obsessive and annoying. Insulted, she breaks up with him. Afterwards, as she regales her best friend Mouse (Ellen Wong) with the story, she complains, “He let me break up with him.”
It was at this point that I stopped the video and ranted about Carrie’s stupidity to my roommate. “Yeah, she sounds really dumb,” she said.
“She really is,” I agreed. Then, naturally, I queued up the next episode and awaited the next development in Carrie’s storyline.
Yep, I started to care about Carrie. I don’t know what sorcery the CW pulled in order to make this happen, but I was saddened when I finally got to the end of those 26 episodes.
Okay, fine. I guess I’ll go watch the original Sex And the City. But I’m not watching those movies! I might accidentally fall in love with another terrible thing.