4 things that ‘The Carrie Diaries’ must do to succeed

  • Fri Nov 2nd, 2012 11:08am
  • Life

Alyssa Rosenberg Slate

The first trailer for “The Carrie Diaries,” the CW’s adaptation of Candace Bushnell’s prequel to “Sex and the City” that follows Carrie Bradshaw as a high school student, dropped last week.

Thus far, it looks exactly like what you’d expect from a CW show: the clothes are fabulous, the cast diverse, the interactions moderately cutting. But if “The Carrie Diaries” wants to be more than a formula, and the CW wants to capture what drew its target audience to “Sex and the City,” here are four lessons the show’s creative team should consider from the original.

1. Friendships are the real romance: The relationships among Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte were as intense and as fraught as their relationships with men. They fought, hurt each other, made mistakes, had misunderstandings, told lies.

It would be awfully boring to see the show default to the standard high school drama that’s plaguing the CW’s medical drama, “Emily Owens, MD,” right now. Down with the bullying storylines, and up with genuinely complex looks at female friendship.

2. There is no such thing as a perfect man: “Sex and the City” women may have all ended up with their soulmates, but they did so after questioning their core assumptions about what they needed in a significant other. “The Carrie Diaries” should remember that compromise and growth are always more interesting than Prince Charming.

3. Carrie’s youth wasn’t all tutus and fantastic heels: One thing I’ve been curious about with “The Carrie Diaries” is whether the show would have the guts to address the unplanned pregnancies Carrie and Samantha experienced when they were younger, and which they chose to terminate.

Right now, it looks like the show will stick with safer territory for its big trauma: the network staple of dead moms.

“Sex and the City” may have been fantasy, but it also could be strikingly honest about how Carrie’s dumb financial decisions — all those shoes — impacted her attempts at a more grown-up life, as when her building went co-op and she couldn’t afford her apartment without a lift from Charlotte.

“The Carrie Diaries” should be more honest than the trailer looks about what it takes to make it in New York.

4. New York in the ’80s had specific glamour, and specific challenges: Carrie and Charlotte’s gay best friends, Stanford and Anthony, played a major role in the original series, and she’ll have another one, Walt (Brendan Dooling), in “The Carrie Diaries.”

But “The Carrie Diaries” will also be a lot more interesting and specific if the show addresses what it means to move to New York City in the height of the AIDS crisis, which had a huge impact on the artistic and fashion communities that Carrie would have gravitated toward.

Given that Carrie’s mentor in the show is meant to be an Interview magazine stylist, there would be something weird and dishonest, not to mention a sacrifice of excellent potential storylines, about putting Carrie in the heart of 1980s New York without acknowledging what was happening in the city at that time.

“The Carrie Diaries” premieres on The CW in January.