Before Mr. Big, Carrie Bradshaw had another important ‘man’ in her life – Manhattan. This man taught her the most about life, love, and the always important lesson of finding your own voice. If you were curious on just how Carrie found her voice and grew into the woman we know and love, The Carrie Diaries is your answer.
The Carrie Diaries pilot flashes back to 1984 with the titular character (AnnaSophia Robb) beginning her first day as a junior in high school in Castlebury, Connecticut, dealing with the same issues most teen girls deal with…er, not so much. Carrie’s mother passed away three months prior, leaving the Bradshaw clan devastated. Carrie and her younger sister Dorrit (Stefania Owen) are also at war, fighting over their mother’s clothes and accessories – specifically a purse Carrie’s mother left for her before her death.
We are then introduced to Carrie’s group of friends. There’s Mouse (Ellen Wong), the newly de-virginized girl who’s dating a college student; Maggie (Katie Findlay), another girl de-virginized who just had sex with who she claims is her boyfriend; and Walt (Brendan Dooling), Maggie’s closeted boyfriend who has the hots for Rob Lowe. Enter Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler), Diaries‘ answer to Mr. Big. Sebastian and Carrie had a past at the pool and Carrie’s clearly crushing hardcore for this guy. Once you see Austin Butler shirtless and wet in a pool I have doubt in my mind you’ll be doing the exact same thing. Carrie’s friends encourage her to ask Sebastian to the big school dance that’s coming up, but Carrie faints before getting the chance (her father walks in and Carrie flashes back to him delivering the news of her mother’s death). Her dad suggests a Manhattan internship which Carrie happily accepts and totally OMG’s (because that’s what people did in the 80’s, right?).
Carrie raids Dorrit’s room to find their mother’s purse and discovers it’s covered in nail polish, ruined. Although Dorrit spends most of her time whining or being angry, I can’t blame the girl for feeling second best to Carrie and hating that Carrie spent more time with their mother before her death. In one of my favorite scenes of the episode, Carrie fixes the purse with added nail polish and her name, showing us our first real taste of Carrie’s future eye for fashion and style.
Arriving in New York for the first time, Carrie is greeted by a civilian that knocks her down and rips her pantyhose – not exactly the welcome she expected. Because of this, Carrie must go to a department store and replace them, where her real Manhattan journey begins. A feisty woman named Larissa (Freema Agyeman) loves Carrie’s bag (who doesn’t?!) and wants to feature it in an Interview Magazine photo shoot. She takes Carrie under her wing for a day of shopping and shoplifting. Larissa mistakes Carrie for an older woman, inviting her to a posh Manhattan club. Now this is the fairytale Carrie always dreamed of.
Speaking of fairytales, Mouse informs Carrie that Sebastian requested her number, hoping to ask her to the dance. Before Carrie can tell her sister not to say anything weird to Sebastian, which we all know younger siblings do; Dorrit takes the phone off the hook and heads off on a secret mission. Larissa sends Carrie a fabulous dress to her office, which causes her boss to criticize the Madonna-style look and Carrie to beam with pride. I’m assuming it was every 80’s girl’s dream to be compared to the Material Girl. Taking a taxi, Carrie must decide where to go – to meet Sebastian at her high school dance or to the New York nightclub with Larissa. In a not-so-shocking development, Carrie chooses…drumroll please…Manhattan! I love the nod to Sex and the City here, because we always knew New York was Carrie Bradshaw’s one true love. Carrie dances the night away, meeting what she believes are her first two gay men and a bunch of artists, musicians, and writers.
Much like Cinderella before her, Carrie realizes it’s midnight and runs off, returning to her normal life as a Connecticut teen. Walt picks her up and they run into Sebastian smoking pot in the car with Donna LaDonna, the most popular girl in the school. Carrie seems to take it all in stride and heads home with Walt, who reveals he hasn’t had sex with Maggie and that he isn’t sure she’s the one. This is probably because Maggie doesn’t have pecs. Carrie ponders who Maggie’s real sex partner was and, upon arriving home, is greeted by another shocker – Dorrit has gone missing.
The next morning, Dorrit returns home drunk and argues with Carrie, who is sick of having to play mother to her sister. Their father decides it’s time to truly begin the healing process and finally coming to terms with the death of his wife. Mouse seeks comfort with Carrie, distraught over the fact that Seth, the boy who took her virginity, isn’t speaking to her anymore. Carrie doesn’t know it yet, but she will be doing much moe of this in the future. The Bradshaw clan begins packing up their mother’s clothes and Carrie gives Dorrit a green dress of their mother’s, a fashion olive branch of sorts. Sebastian and Carrie reunite in their first meeting place, the pool, as Donna’s friends watch in anger. The episode ends with Carrie writing in a blank journal that belonged to her mother, a nod to her future as a writer.
Favorite Moment: Carrie’s closing voiceover. The nostalgia and emotion of it all might have caused me to shed a tear or 73. Honorable mention goes to anytime Austin Butler was shirtless.
Worst Moment: I honestly can’t think of one. Each scene, each moment and each second felt important to the overall story.
Hottest Character: I’ve voiced my love of Austin Butler many times during this recap, but it bears repeating – he’s hot. From the suave bad boy attitude to the shirtless scenes in the pool, I might just have a new celebrity crush. Honorable mention goes to Brendan Dooling (Walt), who can pull of a cable knit sweater like nobody’s business.
Character We Loved This Week: Carrie. No one can hate AnnaSophia Robb and I’m convinced she performed some Paranormal Activity-style ritual to gain SJP’s essence – her portrayal of Carrie is spot on. And who can’t relate to that feeling of longing to find yourself or your place in this world? No one, that’s who.
Character We Wanted To Slap This Week: Donna LaDonna’s minions. There’s nothing worse than minions, unless of course you’re those cute ones from Despicable Me and those girls definitely aren’t.
What We’re Looking Forward To Next Week: Carrie and Sebastian’s romance heats up and Donna isn’t happy – maybe she’ll be pulling her own Blair Waldorf-inspired scheme. Fingers crossed for more of Austin Butler shirtless.
Rating: 9/10. I was tempted to give it a perfect 10, but I have faith that this is only the beginning for the greatness that is The Carrie Diaries. If not, I’m buying the cosmos.