The idea that someone would find a way to generate still more income from Sex and the City should not surprise anyone. The series, after all, had a healthy run on HBO, generated two reunion movies (one OK, one not) and remains a cultural talking point.
Lena Dunham’s series Girls, which begins a second season on HBO on Sunday, has referenced SATC and been compared to it — “relentlessly,” in one writer’s view, down to discussions of how individual episodes treated the same topic. Indeed, more than one observer has seen Girls as a more realistic and downscale view of the urban life SATC presented so glossily.
That provides a sound commercial reason for The Carrie Diaries, a series premiering at 8 p.m. Monday on the CW, and based on books by Candace Bushnell, whose writings also inspired the original series. The show has mentions of sex, but it is much more about the city. It takes viewers into the life of Carrie Bradshaw when she was a 16-year-old in Connecticut, still grieving over the death of her mother and, as the network puts it, finally getting close to “the most important man in her life — Manhattan.”
Mr. Big, take note.
Plucky Carrie — played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the old series, AnnaSophia Robb in Diaries — is seeking direction when the series begins. Her father (Matt Letscher) arranges for her to get an internship at a Manhattan law firm, setting up a series of events that bring Carrie into the fashion world and the club scene, and of course lead her to greater self-awareness.
In short, we are drawn yet again into that place that shows seem to find so fascinating: the New York where bold young people with a song in their heart or a great outfit can be discovered and appreciated. (Think Ugly Betty. Think Glee’s awful New York stories.) The CW, a place where you really can’t be too rich or too thin, clearly thinks this is an idea that will resonate with its women viewers, even those too young to have seen Sex and the City. But the pilot proved more than a little dull, and didn’t earn its big dramatic turn. That said, it is exactly the kind of wish-fulfillment saga that SATC was — toned down in content, to be sure, but just as determined to celebrate pluck and luck.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.