‘The Carrie Diaries’ Explores Iconic Character’s Origin Story

AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie Bradshaw in "The Carrie Diaries." (Photo Credit: Nino Munoz/The CW)

The Carrie Diaries,” premiering on Monday, Jan. 14,  is about “Sex and the City” protagonist Carrie Bradshaw’s teen years, when she was a Connecticut virgin who dreamed of the bright lights, big city of 1980s Manhattan. Thanks to an internship at a New York City law firm and a chance encounter with an editor of Interview magazine, Carrie gets introduced into the adult world of a far edgier New York than the one celebrated on “Sex and the City.”

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Though Bradshaw’s only super power is the pun-filled voiceover, at the show’s TCA panel on Sunday, showrunner Amy Harris compared the series to another CW drama about an iconic character’s teen years, “Smallville.” Just as that show featured Clark Kent encountering characters who were important to the Superman mythology, “The Carrie Diaries” will eventually introduce Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda, according to Harris, who also wrote for “SATC.” “I’ve definitely thought about different ways that we will meet her three other friends. I really felt like just initially let people enjoy this new universe, kind of get sucked in, and then hopefully we can have a lot of fun with how they get introduced.”

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Though in the pilot Carrie narrates that in 1984 almost everyone thought they were better off than they were four years ago, the series will touch upon the decade’s darker side. “We have a character Walt (Brandon Dooling ) who is potentially figuring out his sexuality and struggling wither whether or not he’s gay. I don’t think we can play a series that takes place in New York in the 1980s and not examine [AIDS.] ” Harris welcomes the opportunity to tell a coming out story about an era when teens were far less accepting than they are in 2013. “I don’t think I knew anybody gay,” said Harris, recalling her own teen years. Still, the show will primarily focus on the fashion and pop culture of what star AnnaSophia Robb, who is far too young to remember the actual 1980s, describes as a “romantic” decade. Harris promises, “a whole story around the Rubik’s cube.”

As in the HBO series, fashion will be an important part of the show. “I didn’t want it to feel like the joke version of the 1980s with people in those thin glasses or parachute pas,” said Harris, who describes Carrie’s look as “aspirational authenticity.” “We’re mixing and matching. What I love about having Carrie’s mother’s closet to play with is she’s got a lot of 60s and 70s clothes in there. That’s sort of how Carrie Bradshaw becomes the girl who mixes vintage with couture.”

Though adult Carrie Bradshaw was a sex columnist who slept with numerous men over the course of the series, teen Carrie is introduced as a virgin with far less sexual experience than her friends. Carrie’s first time will be a big deal on the show. “We’ve definitely been talking about it a while,” said Harris. “Obviously, that first step meant a lot to everybody whether it’s because you did it in the back of a car or made it a romantic experience.”

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While there is some concern about whether viewers will invest in Carie’s relationships, given that none of her high school boyfriends play a role in her adult life.   Harris argues that Carrie’s experiences influenced her adult romances. “I love that it’s going to be the first, like how does that first love play itself out? Why she chases someone like Big, and doesn’t end up with someone like Aidan. For me to be able to layer that in and let that simmer for the “Sex and the City” audience like “Oh, if she hadn’t ended up with that A-hole, maybe she would have been attracted to the Aidans of the world.”

Candace Bushnell, who wrote all of the Carrie Bradshaw books,  thinks that the series will have appeal for viewers who were too young to watch the original show. “I think there a lot of young people who want to know how to become the person that they want to be. There’s the excitement and the triumphs, but also a loss of innocence.” Harris added, after the panel, “I wanted this to be a show where young people could say, ‘This is my own. These are the things I’m thinking and talking about that I’ve been afraid to say to people.”

Sarah Jessica Parker has given the new series her blessing. “When I landed the role, she sent me a very lovely note giving me her blessing, encouraging me, and saying how excited she was,” said Robb. “That was huge for me, because I was obviously nervous.”

“The Carrie Diaries” premieres on Monday, Jan. 14 at 8/7c on The CW.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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