A long, long time ago (2010), I heard an internet rumor that Blake Lively and Miley Cyrus were slated to compete for the role of a young Carrie Bradshaw in a Sex and the City film prequel. I got into a momentary tizzy over how wrong it was to even consider Miley for the role of Carrie, but heard nothing of it again until Gossip Girl ended its Monday night reign on the CW late last year. It was then that I first became aware that a prequel was actually happening, albeit a televised one: The Carrie Diaries would not star Lively or Cyrus but a young, uncorrupted AnnaSophia Robb and a bunch of other people I’d never heard of.
In fact, the only person associated with The Carrie Diaries with whom I’m familiar is Josh Schwartz — that’s right, the Josh Schwartz — creator of The OC and Gossip Girl, Lord of Light. This was enough to get me completely pumped for its premiere, which aired last week on the home of teen melodrama, the CW.
And initially, I was let down. While the camp and cheese that was a Sex and the City (and Carrie) staple worked in the late 90s and early 2000s, it feels a little too optimistic and corny in 2013, especially after I’ve become accustomed to teenagers overdosing in Tijuana and fucking their best friend’s boyfriend in the premiere episode. And make no mistake — you did this, Schwartz! You got me hooked on bad behavior, and now you’re giving me a neutered, suburban Bradshaw whose mom just died and I’m like… should I be entertained or depressed or…?
A second let down was the realization that I would no longer be able to count on a Schwartz show as a vehicle for new music, seeing as The Carrie Diaries is set in 1984 and that New Wave soundtrack ain’t so new anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love Duran Duran as much as the next girl, but I’m not exactly running to my Google machine after every episode to find out what that amazing new song I just heard was. Call it sad or lame, but The OC and Gossip Girl gave me a combined decade of new artists to develop an interest in, and that’s pretty much a no-go with Diaries.
Suffice to say, I was not immediately impressed. My thoughts (and the working title of this post) were, “Should we even bother talking about The Carrie Diaries?” I wasn’t sure until I watched last night’s episode, “Lie with Me.” AnnaSophia Robb’s wide-eyed innocence and wondrous nature are a little vanilla for my tastes, but in all honesty, the girl can play a young Carrie. The inner monologue, the quiet flirtation, the trademark curls — it’s all there in consumable quantities. And I realized last night that this show has the potential to do the unthinkable: make Carrie Bradshaw likable. Past Carrie has the power to make the future Carrie — the occasionally selfish, vain, cheesy Carrie — a sympathetic character. Tragic mom death? Check. Adorable, just-the-right-level of protective dad? Check. Relatable crush on hunk, dorky but endearing friends, way cooler younger sister? Check, check, check. It seems that the young Carrie (who is a little better at listening to her friends’ problems than the future Carrie) is paving the road for the Cosmo-swilling, fashion-whoring, sex-writing Carrie that we all know and are sort of lukewarm toward.
So maybe the young Carrie Bradshaw won’t burn down a model home or join a cage-fighting ring. She might do something even more unexpected, like redeem one of television’s most simultaneously loved and hated icons. I just… can’t help but wonder if she’ll pull it off!