April 9, 2013



Stripped of its period trappings and the fact that its heroine is named Carrie Bradshaw, THE CARRIE DIARIES is the most basic and least interesting of CW’s YA romances.  The season finale, like countless season finales set in high school before it, revolved around the junior prom, even though none of the characters ever quite got there.

Carrie Diaries is very much on the CW bubble (its ratings are a notch below fellow bubblers Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast, but supposedly it benefits more from DVR and social network participation), and although tonight’s season finale, written by series creator Amy B. Harris and directed by Andy Wolk, left plenty of room for a Season 2, it also resolved enough matters to serve as a series finale if that’s the way the decision goes.  By episode’s end, Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) had broken up, gotten back together, and broken up again with sensitive bad(ish)-boy Sebastian (Austin Butler), who, in the hour’s one interesting development, briefly hooked up with Carrie’s currently former BFF Maggie (Katie Findlay, the only character who has any depth).  Maggie’s ex Walt (Brendan Dooling), who’s practically Andrew Rannells’ character on The New Normal, had finally started to come out as gay, and he and Carrie were to spend a sophisticated summer together apartment-sitting for Carrie’s Interview Magazine mentor Larissa (Freema Agyerman), while the latter is learning how to be a geisha in Kyoto.  Everyone else was in a state of temporarily happy coupledom, including Carrie’s other pal Mouse (Ellen Wong, who had an especially dim storyline), her sister Dorrit (Stefania Owen, much less interesting than when she was a sulking pre-goth earlier in the season) and her father Tom (Matt Lescher).

There’s an unfortunate veneer of blandness over every aspect of Carrie Diaries; it’s the Vegas resort hotel version of its setting and era.  Since this is CW and the characters are underage, sex is at a minimum, and there’s no danger that can’t be neatly dealt with in an hour.  The characters are all amiable and generous of heart (when they screw each other up, it’s usually because of misunderstanding or due to their own momentary heartbreak).  Such likability and reasonableness may be admirable, but it’s not very dramatic; the characters might as well be living in the Matrix.

With the exception of Findlay, the cast is similarly forgettable.  Robb is all flawless skin and anime eyes, more Amanda Seyfried than Sarah Jessica Parker, and the boys are essentially interchangeable, while Agyerman seems to be playing Holly Golightly, and Letscher might as well be on a multi-camera sitcom.  Even the show’s photography lacks character–a scene in tonight’e episode that was set upstairs at Carrie’s house featured the same bright, flat light running from her room all the way down the hallway with no logical source for it, as though the family lived in a Wal-Mart.

In theory, Carrie Diaries should be about the formation of the sensibility that became Sex and the City, but the show is so riddled with high school cliche that it has no distinctive sensibility at all.  Coming from this history, Carrie Bradshaw would be more likely to live in Westchester than in the big bad 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."