TV Review: “The Carrie Diaries” – Charming, but Lacking Appeal

Written by Meredith Pow November 15, 2013

"The Carrie Diaries"

To my surprise, after a rough first season, “The Carrie Diaries” was renewed for a second season and premiered on October 25th, 2013. More predictably though, the show still hasn’t caught very good ratings, especially as it attempts to follow in the footsteps of the very successful “Sex in the City” (yes, “The Carrie Diaries” is a prequel to HBO’s “Sex in the City”). The problem with “The Carrie Diaries” goes deeper than bad acting and ridiculous, unrealistic 80s fashion– the issue is their reliance on romance to make the show interesting. On top of the fact that the demographic for this show still remains very unclear, one of the only highlights of “The Carrie Diaries” is the lead actress AnnaSophia Robb, who is both charming and relatable.

The characters just aren’t interesting enough

So, what’s been happening so far in season 2? Well, Carrie’s living with Walt off in the big city of Manhattan in Larissa’s apartment for the summer. Sebastian is attempting to win Carrie back after he drunkenly kissed Maggie last season, while Maggie is off working at the country club in their small town of Castlebury looking all guilt-ridden. Walt has just come out as gay and he’s learning to balance his ‘out’ life in Manhattan while remaining straight in Castlebury. A new character named Samantha (yes, a young Samantha Jones originally from “Sex in the City”) is introduced, who causes a ruckus and literally causes everyone to fall ill in episode 2.

And then there’s characters whose storylines have very little substance because the focus remains on their relationship status: there’s Mouse (I have yet to figure out why that’s her name), who’s dating a new guy. There’s Carrie’s younger sister, who’s dating a new guy. And there’s Carrie’s dad, is dating a new woman. That’s virtually it for their characters, and what’s much worse is the fact that without these boring, steady relationships, the characters would have really nothing to fall back on. Frankly, the majority of the characters in “The Carrie Diaries” would have trouble carrying their own weight if they weren’t attached romantically.

Express Yourself 

At the risk of sounding like an overprotective mother…

I find it very confusing as to whom “The Carrie Diaries” appeals to. Of course, the show is broadcasted on the CW, which would suggest that their audience is similar to those who watched Gossip Girl and 90120 when they were still on air. Yet, the show is set (quite unconvincingly) in the 80s, which I would argue many young viewers would be unable to properly relate to. But perhaps that’s why they put very little effort into the 80s wardrobe and feel of the whole show; because they know the audience won’t know the difference.

The show is the prequel to a one that literally has sex in the title; therefore I suppose it’s not surprising that “The Carrie Diaries” can be a tad cheeky at times. Yet, the sex talk in the show only causes me to be further confused. At the risk of sounding like an overprotective mother, rather than questioning how old the audience could be, I’ve begun to question how old the audience should be. I mean, am I the only one that’s shocked that Carrie’s sister is sexually active and she’s only 15? Regardless, I have to wonder if any of the original “Sex in the City” fans are watching “The Carrie Diaries” and what they make of it (especially Samantha’s character, who seems to be as scandalous as she’s ever been).

Carrie-Bradshaw-and-Sebastian-Kydd-the-carrie-diaries-35286829-720-480

On a Positive Note…

AnnaSophia Robb owns this show. Her acting is convincing, especially among such a bleak cast, and she comes off incredibly charming. Her character is flawlessly flawed and highly relatable. She’s a small town girl who has big dreams of living and working in New York, and although she can get into trouble from time to time, she always manages to find her way back to safety and comfort by staying true to who she is. Surprisingly, her character doesn’t come off as the annoying voice of reason or know-it all on the show. She’s imperfect like all of us, but she has a spirit and willingness to thrive for her dreams, which is something I really admire about her.  All I can say is thank goodness “The Carrie Diaries” has a strong, independent, naive but sensible, lead female character, who not only shines on her own, but shines for the whole show.

Although there are many negatives to “The Carrie Diaries”, I would consider this show to be one of my many guilty pleasures. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to last much longer. But for now, I would recommend watching “The Carrie Diaries” for yourself, because maybe you’ll fit within the unclear demographic or find AnnaSophia Robb just as delightful as I do.

Rating: 6.5/10

THE CARRIE DIARIES

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About Meredith Pow

Meredith is a student at Western University, currently working towards a BA Honours Specialization in Media, Information & Technoculture. She has a passion for photography and videography, a love for television, and an obsession with reading about popular culture.

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