Just when Walt (Brendan Dooling) had started to become somewhat comfortable with his sexuality, his resolve will be tested when New York City's AIDS epidemic of the '80s hits close to home on The Carrie Diaries (Friday, 8/7c, CBS). Bad news will strike when Walt begrudgingly allows Bennett (Jake Robinson) to take him to a hip gay club on Valentine's Day, where a friend reveals that Bennett's ex is dying from AIDS.
"We knew we wanted the AIDS epidemic to be something that would touch him," executive producer Amy B. Harris tells TVGuide.com. "He's not someone who is comfortable being at a gay club where people are in leather, because he's still Walt. Even though he's gay, he's a little bit of a WASP. That was the struggle we wanted to play with this season for him with being comfortable with what kind of gay man he wanted to be and once he was finding comfort in that, that felt like the right time to talk about AIDS and what that was going to be mean for someone like Walt."
Having only come out recently, Walt will nearly be scared back into the closet by his brush with death. "I remember someone saying to me when they came out in the '90s that the hardest part wasn't telling his parents, it was realizing he was letting go of a lot of very traditional things that he wanted like a family and a marriage and a white picket fence," Harris says. "That always really struck me and I knew that was going to jar something for Walt, the realization that he was going to have to give up so much."
The scare will not only affect Walt, but will spread out to those he's close to as well. "The reality of that time is that even if it wasn't somebody you dated, it was somebody you knew who was out there struggling with AIDS," Harris says. "This episode is just how close that illness is to all of their lives, to Carrie's [AnnaSophia Robb] life, to Walt's life, to Bennett's life. That's the frightening realization."
Harris felt the show's sophomore season was the right time to explore Walt's reaction to such a terrifying disease. "We had talked a lot about how the first season had to just stay focused on Walt's slow journey to the realization that he was gay," Harris says. "The AIDS epidemic was very much a part of Manhattan at that time, but we were telling a very intimate story of one young kid's experience with trying to come out."
The ramifications of Bennett's ex having AIDS will have a huge impact on Bennett and Walt's relationship. "This is going to change Bennett in ways big and small with the realization that his ex is dying from AIDS," Harris says.
The Carrie Diaries airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW.
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