The Carrie Diaries is not Sex and the City 2.0, and the stars and executive producers know that.
"Don't compare it to the original; just embrace it for what it is," star AnnaSophia Robb, who plays the teenage version of iconic SATC protagonist Carrie Bradshaw, tells TVGuide.com. "We want audiences to enjoy this and not scrutinize every little detail. Enjoy the ride and the fashion and characters we've created."
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Before Carrie was a confident, fashion-forward writer with many sexual experiences under her belt, she was a high school virgin unsure of who she was. In the series premiere (Monday at 8/7c), Carrie begins her senior year after the death of her mother and is given the opportunity of a lifetime when her father gets her a one-day-a-week internship at a law firm in the Big Apple. Through happenstance she meets an edgy magazine editor Larissa (Freeman Agyeman) who opens her eyes to the fast-paced city life that includes parties, fashion, men and more.
Based on the prequel novel by Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell, The Carrie Diaries changes Carrie's mythology quite a bit, which has upset many fans of the original series. They specifically take issue with the fact that in the HBO version, Carrie was an only child whose dad left her family. Whereas in the new series, Carrie has a sister, and it's her mother who is absent. Executive producer Amy B. Harris says that although the backstory was much debated, producers felt this new background made much more sense for the ultimate genesis of her character.
"When I read Candace [Bushnell]'s book, I was blown away by the choice not to have a mother [because] that perfectly explained why she's so damaged," Harris said at the show's winter previews Sunday. "The fear you come with is so tremendous and your parental relationship becomes totally romanticized [with a death]. Carrie, as an adult, is so romantic and has high expectations for relationships. To some degree, that [can be] because she has a good relationship with her father. This Carrie is [also] damaged and afraid, and we'll see how screwed up she is about embracing a good guy."
And on whether or not she'll meet her best friends Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, Harris said, "Let's get to know Carrie. It's a new actor playing an iconic role... Let people enjoy this new universe, get sucked in and have a lot of fun with how she [eventually] met them."
On the show, Carrie navigates between her whirlwind days and sometimes nights in New York and her more conventional teen (often awkward) experiences at her Connecticut high school. And in the way the original series pushed provocative boundaries for women in their 20's and 30's, The CW hopes to do the same for their audience as well.
"It's going to be age appropriate, but we do want to show what real teenagers are doing and thinking and talking about," Robb says. "We hope this new audience will be able to relate and that the older audience will be able to say, 'Oh my gosh, I remember that boy and that dance and that drink.'" And for anyone hesitant to relive '80s fashion through the show, Robb adds, "It recalls a lot of '80s trends, but we're calling it 'aspirational authenticity.' It's flavors of the '80s, but you'll see it and say it's cute."
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Nineteen-year-old Robb had never actually watched the original series until she landed the role. "I wasn't super familiar with Sex and the City ... because the show ended when I was 12," she says. "Now I watch and love it, [and see that The Carrie Diaries has] similar flavors to the original show, but you're watching her experience all of these things for the first time. I love the episode when Carrie goes to Paris and claps because it's everything she ever dreamed of. That's what New York is for this Carrie. She's realizing you could go to these fabulous parties and wear these amazing shoes and express yourself and she's finding her voice in high school and in the city."
The Carrie Diaries airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.