Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thinking About The Carrie Diaries

I watched the first episode of The Carrie Diaries on Monday. I, who usually avoid the CW like the plague, actually enjoyed The Carrie Diaries and I found some of it--Carrie and Mouse commiserating about the crap men do, for example--very Sex and the City. And while I wasn't blown away by The Carrie Diaries I did enjoy it and as Pauline Kael reminded us long ago, and Roland Barthes reminded us again later, watching film and television is fundamentally all about passion in some way, shape, or form.

I am not alone in my enjoyment of The Carrie Diaries, Metacritic, the film and television review website which summarises and brings together critical reviews of TV shows and films, shows 11 favourable reviews for the series. A few of these have compared The Carrie Diaries to My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. Others, positive, middling, and negative, have compared The Carrie Diaries to what Buffy Summers calls the John Hughes teen oeuvre. Still others have run colder and cold about The Carrie Diaries. According to the summary at Metacritic 8 critics have had a mixed response to the series while 4 have reacted negatively to it. One reviewer who gives The Carrie Diaries a big thumbs down, Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture, says it dishonours its source, Sex and the City and that its characters are bland. Another, Patti Greco, also of Vulture, accuses The Carrie Diaries of violating Sex and the City continuity.

As I read these reviews, particularly the negative reviews, I kept thinking about what most of the reviewers didn't do and what they really should have done. They needed to compare The Carrie Diaries television show with its actual source, the teen Carrie books written by Candace Bushnell--The Carrie Diaries (2010) and Summer in the City (2011)--the same writer who wrote Sex and the City, the book on which the HBO book was based. I haven't read the Bushnell's teen Carrie series books but a quick glance at a website which summarises the Carrie series reveals that the television series is following the books pretty closely at this point. When the book and the television show begin Carrie's mom has recently died. In the book and the television show Carrie has a younger sister named and Dorrit is jealous of Carrie's relationship with their now dead mother. In the book and the TV show Dorrit steals stuff from Carrie and her youngest sister Missy who is missing from the television show. The Freema Agyeman (she who was one of the Doctor's companions) character, Larissa Loughlin, seems to be absent from the book. In the book and the television show Carrie's friends have sex with their boyfriends before she does making her wonder if she is the only virgin in Carrie Diaries land. The books, published by Harper Teen, are pitched to a teen audience. So it should be no surprise that the television series is, as most of the shows on the CW are, as well. The moral of the story: if you want to blame someone for Daddy, Dorrit, or the The Carrie Diaries blame executive producer and author Candace Bushnell.

One last thing before I go, the Guardian's Emma Keller claimed that The Carrie Diaries New York City bore no relationship to the real New York City while Bagelandlox, who contributed a post under Keller's "review", noted pointedly that Carrie's Manhattan, was not the real down and dirty and crime ridden Manhattan of the 1980s. Of course, Carrie's Manhattan is not the real Manhattan of the 1980s. The Manhattan of The Carrie Diaries, like the Manhattan of grown up Carrie in Sex and the City, is a fairy tale Manhattan. Needless to say Carrie is not the first nor will she be the last to romanticise The City.


  1. And the fact that there are no Twin Towers even though we are in the 80s should be a strong enough sign that it's a fairy tale Manhattan.

  2. I read one of the articles about the disappearance of the WTC over Bradshaw's Manhattan...