February 1, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “The Carrie Diaries”


In fairness, I should note up front that I didn’t keep up with THE CARRIE DIARIES very often after its season premiere, so this won’t pretend to be an authoritative look at its second season.  Still, checking back in for its season (for now) finale, the mild growing-up tale I found wasn’t very different than the show I remembered.

This being a season finale, the episode, written by series creator Amy B. Harris and directed by Andrew McCarthy (and who could be a more apt director for a show about 1980s teens?), featured a life crisis for young Carrie Bradshaw (the appealing AnnaSophia Robb).  She’d decided, much to the distress of dad Tom (Matt Letscher), to pass on NYU and go straight from high school to a job at Interview Magazine–only to get fired early in the hour when her mentor Larissa (Freema Agyeman) was ousted, shortly before Larissa’s big-bash wedding.  After discovering she’d missed her chance for a fall term in college, Carrie made up her mind to go to Malibu with boyfriend Sebastian (Austin Butler), with whom she’d moved in while I wasn’t watching.  But not to worry:  by the end of the episode, Carrie changed her plans and decided that if she could make it here (“here” being NY), she’d make it anywhere, so she would stay in town, much to her father’s relief, and she at least temporarily split up with Sebastian.

The B/C/D storylines (take your pick) were even sketchier.  Mouse (Ellen Wong) made up with her co-valedictorian ex-boyfriend (R.J. Brown), before she left for Harvard and he for Princeton.  Maggie (Katie Findlay), after suspecting all episode, sitcom style, that her soldier beau was cheating on her with the girl whose phone number she found in his clothes, found out that the woman was a jeweler who was readying the–wait for it–engagement ring he was planning for Maggie, and which he delivered in a laundromat proposal.  And mini-Samantha (Lindsey Gort) got back together with her married boyfriend after he left his wife for her, and ended the episode by agreeing to move in with Carrie.

None of this would remind anyone very much of Sex and the City if some of the characters didn’t bear familiar names, and if Carrie delivered a bit less voice-over narration.  What that left was a very routine if pleasant dramedy.  The season finale was less heavyhanded with its 1980s motifs, which was an improvement, and since everyone had graduated from high school by now, it didn’t feel quite as teen-ish as the first season had been, but there was still awfully little in The Carrie Diaries to chew on.

The show’s ratings weren’t likely to improve with a move to low-rated Fridays, and they didn’t, with numbers low even by CW standards (and probably little of the international appeal that kept Nikita going for a while).  Unless the network has a disastrous development season, it’s hard to imagine Carrie sticking around for next season, especially since it only had a 13-episode order this year, leaving it very far from being able to reach syndication revenue.  In any case, the show didn’t really fit with the increasingly genre-driven CW schedule, lacking even the faux-sophistication of Gossip Girl or 90210, and although its likable cast will miss their paychecks, they’re probably better off moving on to whatever’s next for them.  Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, if they’re ever to return to TV, should be back on paycable (or at least basic cable), where they can restore some of the frankness of their sex to the city.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."