Ludicrously awesome clothes, dirty punks at CBGB and Zack Morris brick phones. These are all things you would find in New York City circa 1984. This is the setting for the Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries, which premiered earlier this week.
If you are hoping for a carbon copy of the landmark HBO show where four straight women acted liked gay men, as Patty or Selma once said on The Simpsons, then you will be disappointed.
That’s not to say there isn’t a hint of SATC flavour in this new series that is based on Candace Bushnell’s books of the same name. Luckily, the CW was smart enough to get Bushnell on board as a producer. Yet the main producers of TCD are also responsible for the melodramatic drivel that is Gossip Girl. TCD is, put simply, a blend of the producers’ original series. It has SATC’s trademark, insightful voiceovers and its girl-against-the-world charm, but it is weighed down by badly presented teenaged drama.
AnnaSophia Robb plays the titular character first created by Sarah Jessica Parker. Robb’s teenaged Carrie is spunky, likeable and, in case you don’t buy this new girl as Ms Bradshaw, she has SJP’s flowing curls.
Having lost her mother sometime before the point at which the show starts, Carrie copes with the stigma of being known as the girl with a dead mom at her suburban high school. Carrie has somewhat nerdy friends who she relies on, each with their own drama. The most interesting of her friends is a teen boy struggling with his sexuality; what would a SATC show be without a gay male character? At home, her younger sister can’t deal with their mother’s loss and their father is aloof. There’s also a romantic story line that is cliché and so saccharine you may want to visit the dentist after watching.
Where the debut episode gets interesting is when Carrie accepts an internship in the big city. Her innovative, DIY fashion sense catches the eye of a kleptomaniac stylist and Carrie is thrown into the bourgeois world of NYC artists.
The show closes with Carrie writing for the very first time. Of course, there is no MacBook and she doesn’t look away in deep thought while smoking a cigarette, as was the case in the original series.
While it may be imperfect, much like SJP’s interestingly different face, I think I may grow to enjoy the series as more episodes air. TCD is fresh, enjoyable and an original alternative to making another laboured SATC movie.
If the writers drop the teen drama (and yes, I understand it is on the CW, the mother ship of teen drama) and add more queer characters, it may hook more fans of the original.