Prequel series “The Carrie Diaries” charms viewers

AnnaSophia Robb stars as Carrie Bradshaw in the new prequel series “The Carrie Diaries.”

Source: Creative Commons

AnnaSophia Robb stars as Carrie Bradshaw in the new prequel series “The Carrie Diaries.”

Annie Bruce, Writer

Stepping onto the scene with her signature wild blonde curls and a killer outfit, Carrie Bradshaw stumbles insecurely through the streets of Manhattan — not quite the Carrie everyone knows and loves. This Carrie, played by AnnaSophia Robb, is still getting used to riding the subway, flirting with boys and walking down the street in 5-inch heels. In the new CW prequel series, “The Carrie Diaries,” viewers follow Bradshaw as she learns to balance high school with her internship in New York City.

This balancing act is the subject of the second episode of the series, “Lie with Me.” On her first trip to the city, a photographer for Interview Magazine fell in love with a purse Carrie designed and asked to shoot it for the magazine. This week, Bradshaw struggles to escape her Manhattan law firm internship, so she can make it to the magazine photo shoot in Brooklyn. The lies start here, and they continue throughout the episode as Carrie tries to meet up with the new kid in school, Sebastian, while she’s grounded. The story lines, albeit slightly predictable, are entertaining, and it’s fun to see high school Carrie fall in love with New York and Sebastian. Robb successfully steps into Sarah Jessica Parker’s signature role, and she brings a necessary honest, youthful spin to the character.

Without Carrie’s friendship with Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, “Sex and the City” would not have been nearly as successful. Fortunately, “The Carrie Diaries” sets up equally binding friendships for Carrie between Mouse, Maggie and Walt. Carrie gets her first chance to dish out romantic advice after Mouse’s summer boyfriend won’t call back. Maggie and Walt are experiencing trouble of their own: The couple has been together for two years, and Walt keeps postponing sex despite Maggie’s pleas. The three characters have their own subplots, but, like in the original series, the standout moments occur when they are all together on screen.

A dynamic that is unique to “The Carrie Diaries” is Bradshaw’s relationship with her younger sister, Dorrit, and her father. The entire family is struggling to stay together after the death of Bradshaw’s mother, and “Lie with Me” took the opportunity to explore these family dynamics. The writers skillfully depicted the highs and lows that can occur between siblings within a couple of hours.

The show is set in the ‘80s, which means plenty of Go-Go’s music and neon fashion. The new setting and new characters allow the new series to stand on its own. “The Carrie Diaries,” like Bradshaw herself, is still finding a footing, but it shows a great deal of promise. The mark of a good TV show is one that transports viewers to another place, and when “The Carrie Diaries” takes young Ms. Bradshaw around the magical city that never sleeps, the audience happily goes with her.