In the city, be­fore all the sex

The prequel se­ries must con­nect with an­other gen­er­a­tion of view­ers, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

WILL The Car­rie Di­aries con­nect with view­ers? Hard to say since some of the show’s tar­get au­di­ence was in pri­mary school when Sex and the City went off the air in 2004.

True, Sex and the City lives on in re­runs and big-screen movies, but as a prequel se­ries The Car­rie Di­aries will have to stand on its own.

The pi­lot episode gets off to a pretty de­cent start. The Car­rie Di­aries doesn’t rein­vent the teen drama but it does of­fer a com­par­a­tively tame take on the teen years, at least in its pi­lot episode.

Tonally, Car­rie Di­aries is much closer to the late Life Un­ex­pected than it is to Gossip Girl. Set in 1984 when Car­rie Brad­shaw (An­naSophia Robb) is a 16-year-old vir­gin liv­ing in Castle­bury, Con­necti­cut, The Car­rie Di­aries is based on a book by au­thor Can­dace Bush­nell, who also wrote the book Sex and the City was based on.

Car­rie Di­aries rewrites some of Car­rie’s past as pre­sented in HBO’s Sex and the City.

In the orig­i­nal se­ries, Car­rie’s fa­ther aban­doned her and her mother and no men­tion was made of sib­lings.

As The Car­rie Di­aries be­gins, Car­rie’s mother died a few months ear­lier, leav­ing Car­rie’s fa­ther (Matt Letscher, Eli Stone) to raise Car­rie and her younger sis­ter, the re­bel­lious Dorrit (Ste­fa­nia Owen).

The Car­rie Di­aries pi­lot was writ­ten by Amy Har­ris, who was pre­vi­ously a writer on Sex and the City, and ex­ec­u­tive-pro­duced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Sav­age.

Sex and the City was one of the first shows in the mod­ern TV era to make wide­spread use of di­ary-style, voiceover nar­ra­tion. Car­rie Di­aries can get away with this crutch – telling, not show­ing – be­cause of its pedi­gree, I sup­pose.

‘‘As I watched ev­ery­one pass­ing around the news of the day like mono af­ter a home­com­ing dance, I re­alised that I was the virus no one wanted to get near, the freak who had lost her mom,’’ Car­rie nar­rates on the first day of the new school year.

View­ers meet her best friends: Su­per­s­mart Mouse (Ellen Wong, Scott Pil­grim vs the World) and Mag­gie (Katie Find­lay), who is dat­ing Walt (Bren­dan Dool­ing). Car­rie also has a few fren­e­mies, in­clud­ing Donna LaDonna (Chloe Bridges), who looks like she walked off the set of Square Pegs.

And then there’s Car­rie’s proto-Mr. Big: Se­bas­tian Kydd (Austin But­ler, Life Un­ex­pected), a rich kid she bonded with two sum­mers ear­lier. He’s since been kicked out of mul­ti­ple board­ing schools be­fore land­ing at Car­rie’s high school. Car­rie Di­aries isn’t just a high-school-set show.

The open­ing scene, rem­i­nis­cent of the be­gin­ning of Sex and the City, shows Car­rie walking down a busy Man­hat­tan foot­path. Turns out it’s a dream that fore­shad­ows her New York ad­ven­tures to come, when her fa­ther snags her an in­tern­ship with a Man­hat­tan law firm.

It’s not glam­orous work, but on a break she goes to a de­part­ment store and runs into a hip style ex­pert for In­ter­view mag­a­zine.

Larissa (Freema Agye­man, Doc­tor Who) doesn’t seem to re­alise that Car­rie is a high­schooler and in­vites her out to party and meet her boho, chic friends. (This gives the show shades of the can­celled ABC Fam­ily se­ries Jane by De­sign, where an­other high­schooler found her­self work­ing in the city for em­ploy­ers who didn’t no­tice she was a teenager.)

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the show will deal with a few 1980s is­sues. Show­ing off ’80s-era fash­ion is one thing, but when Car­rie meets her first gay guys you have to won­der if The Car­rie Di­aries will work the AIDS cri­sis into its sto­ry­telling.

Will The Car­rie Di­aries be a show of mod­er­ate depth, like Sex and the City, or merely a shal­low teen soap?

Time – and Car­rie’s ubiq­ui­tous nar­ra­tion – will even­tu­ally tell.

7.30pm, Fox8

Tues­days,

star An­naSophia Robb.

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