When I heard that The CW was developing a prequel to Sex & The City that focused on Carrie Bradshaw‘s introduction to Manhattan in the mid-80′s, I was … wary.
In the first place, The Carrie Diaries changed Carrie’s backstory. In SATC she spoke about how her father walked out on her and her mother when she was young, and she never saw him again. In TCD, her mother has just died, and her father is trying to raise Carrie and her sullen sister (who we also never heard of in SATC) by himself.
That I can handle, but the fact that it takes place in the 80′s was a potential deal breaker. I try to steer clear of any TV show or movie set in the 80′s because they usually get it so … wrong. It’s either so eye-rollingly obvious or annoyingly anachronistic (Excuse me! Your movie takes place in early 1983, but features “Karma Chameleon,” which didn’t come out until late 1983!). As an 80′s nit-picker, I didn’t know if I could handle it.
Happily, The Carrie Diaries avoids those traps (more or less), and is a sweet and surprisingly touching coming-of-age dramedy, unlike the salty, snappy, and at times cynical mother ship.
If you’re unaware of the cast of characters, here’s a primer on who’s who:
Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) – Our heroine, who at 16 is missing her trademark mole and elongated jawline and is trying to navigate the not dissimilar worlds of high school and NYC publishing. Keeps a journal, but has yet to use the line, “I couldn’t help but wonder.” 80′S INFLUENCE – Any Molly Ringwald character.
Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) – The new kid at school, and the object of Carrie’s affection. He got kicked out of his old high school for having sex with his art history teacher, Cocksure with possible jerk tendencies. 80′S INFLUENCE – The blond guy who learns a life lesson in The Karate Kid.
Jill “The Mouse” Chen (Ellen Wong) – Carrie’s eternally optimistic best friend. Loves to meddle. 80′S INFLUENCE – Natalie Green
Maggie Landers (Katie Findlay) – Carrie’s tough-talking, sarcastic other best friend. 80′S INFLUENCE – Jo Polniaczek
Dorrit Bradshaw (Stefania Owen) – Carrie’s 14-year-old goth sister, she resents Carrie for her relationship with their mother. 80′S INFLUENCE – Darlene Conner
Walt Reynolds (Brendan Dooling) – Carrie’s best guy friend, and on and off again boyfriend of Maggie. Confused about his sexuality, he’s slowly coming to terms with the closet. 80′S INFLUENCE – Ducky
Donna LaDonna (Chloe Bridges) – Carrie’s rival and resident mean girl. She was the first to snatch up Sebastian, and now has set her sights on Walt. 80′S INFLUENCE – Pizazz from Jem
Tom Bradshaw (Matt Letscher) – Major DILF. 80′S INFLUENCE – Tony Micelli Any hot 80′s single dad.
Finally, there’s the luminous Freema Agyeman as Larissa Loughlin, Carrie’s mentor and editor at Interview magazine. A notorious party girl, she’s helping Carrie spread her wings, unaware that legally, Carrie is still a hatchling.