[Spoilers from episode 1 below]
There’s something about “The Carrie Diaries” that reminds me of childhood classics like “Now and Then” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” The eighties pop beats most certainly brings on the feel-good nostalgia and so does Carrie’s wistful narration. After watching, I kinda want to live in the eighties — where curly hair was all the rage. Though, I would totally be disgruntled over nylons. “The Carrie Diaries” fantastically pays homage to everything great about the era, almost able to transport itself back to the likes of those classic teen romance flicks.
Let’s discuss the youthful cast, one lovely character at a time.
Dorrit Bradshaw (Stefania Owen) — Carrie’s 14-year-old sister who wears thick eyeliner and broods in her room. She steals some of their mother’s clothes, including a purse that Carrie’s looking for. Since Mrs. Bradshaw has died, Dorrit’s been in a bit of rebellious phase, so Carrie realizes she probably took the clothing. She rips open a giant teddy bear to find scarves and her mother’s purse, now ruined with nail polish. Carrie yells at Dorrit for the mess, but she claims it was an accident and shouts back about how Carrie received extra years with their mother and even got her clothes. Carrie solves the purse problem by splashing more colorful hues of polish on the leather and scribbling “Carrie” across the front.
Jill “The Mouse” Thompson (Ellen Wong) — The Mouse, quiet and studious, tells Carrie and Maggie how she met a college boy and lost her virginity to him. Maggie pipes in and claimed she swiped her V-card too, so now Carrie thinks she’s the last of her friends still left with the big V. Good things do not come at the end for Jill. The college boy won’t return her calls, and she cries on Carrie’s shoulder in thought that he’s ditched her.
Walt Reynolds (Brendan Dooling) — Walt wears bright-colored sweaters and happens to be Carrie’s main guy friend. He’s also Maggie’s boyfriend, but he tells Carrie they’ve never had sex. So who did Maggie sleep with? There’s a lot of nudges towards Walt’s sexual preference. At a Manhattan club, two guys tell Carrie that “someone you know is always gay. Look for the hot guy who likes fashion. And hates sports.” Even with that stereotype, Walt pretty much fits the bill. And by the end montage, we see him flipping through a magazine filled with sexy Rob Lowe photos.
Maggie (Katie Findlay) — The police chief’s daughter is a little bit flirty. But with who? She secretly runs into the arms of a police officer, who’s worried about her father finding out about their forbidden relationship.
Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) — He enters the school in a wave of mystery. He transferred around so much that his parents decided to bring him home where he’ll be attending the same school as Carrie. Though, she’s already met him before at a swim club where they flirted in the deep end and shared a not-so chaste kiss. He then ruined it by saying that his parents were building a pool, meaning he probably wouldn’t see her again. Smooth. She swam away, and when she meets him at school on the first day it’s with surprise and excitement.
He opens up, only a little, about his mother leaving with her tennis instructor, blowing off the event like it’s any other day. And when Carrie doesn’t show up at the dance, he hangs out with the Queen Bee, Donna LaDonna (yes, that’s her real name). Carrie arrives late and watches as he drives off with Donna into the night. I suspect there’s more to this mysterious boy that we’ll learn in episodes to come.
Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) — And finally, Carrie, the young, free-spirited thinker whose narrations actually make me smile rather than cringe. That’s a hard feat considering I always think about “Roswell” when I hear the start of one. “Roswell” fans will remember the phrase, “I am Liz Parker. And today, I died.” Anyway, Carrie’s father appears at her school, and she has a mini-meltdown. Actually fainting in the arms of Sebastian. Turns out, the last time her dad walked down the halls was to give her the news of her mother’s death. This time, it’s to share good news. She has the opportunity to leave campus for an internship in Manhattan everyday. And of course, she’ll take it.
While in New York, she falls on the pavement and rips her stockings. Her boss scoffs and tells her to go buy a new pair at Century 21. There, she runs into Larissa, a super-hip and cutting-edge style editor at “Interview” magazine. She compliments Carrie’s nail-polished purse and convinces her to shoplift. Although, the entire scene is so lighthearted, it took me a moment to realize that Carrie participated in an illegal activity. No worry, she even decides to attend Larissa’s after party where she gets caught up in the differences between Manhattan’s adult lifestyle and her school’s mundane adolescence — like the contrast between champagne and wine coolers.
She leaves at midnight, as though her carriage will shrink into a pumpkin. After things settle down at home, she returns to the pool where Sebastian waits on the edge for her. Donna’s posse sees them from the balcony above, alluding to a girl war in the future. But Carrie’s not paying much attention to the cattiness. She says, “The city was no longer a fantasy. It was real. And I knew now that I wasn’t searching for something or somebody here. I was searching for me. Who I was. Who I wanted to be.” Aw, with that sentiment in mind, I’ll be tuning in next week. Will you?
— Becca Ritchie