When we were growing up to be the super-stylish, super-cool people we are, we had a spirit animal. Her name was Carrie Bradshaw and she was the main character on HBO’s Sex and the City. When the show ended in 2004, we cried, and then started over and watched all six seasons until we knew all the quotes and style secrets and secret man tips.
Fast forward to present day, and The CW is taking us back to before everything we know by showing us where Carrie came from — a small, neon-filled town in ‘80s Connecticut suburbia. The Carrie Diaries begins in 1984 with the aspiring writer and fashion lover getting to know herself in reflective monologues and cheesy lines.
Dream sequences are totally the best way to start every episode of a new show. So, naturally, The Carrie Diaries is onboard with this. Oh, and screaming. In the opening minutes, a teenage Carrie Bradshaw wakes up in Castlebury, Connecticut and rifles through her closet and screams. We’re already totally sucked in.
Carrie has a younger 14-year-old sister named Dorrit. She smokes pot. Cue the ‘80s music (Modern English, Talking Heads), leggings, The Cure and Joy Division posters, and Danielle Steele novels. The two clearly have a special relationship of sisterly love, as demonstrated by their morning hair-pulling fight. So, what’s their problem? Well, their mom passed away from cancer three months ago. We sense some life lessons on the way.
It’s the first day of school, and Carrie just wants something of her mom’s to take with her to school (“I need the purse, I need a piece of her.”). She is already all insightful and fashion-obsessed, in a fresh-faced way we know we’re going to fall in love with. Her dad seems equal parts withholding and misguided as he bars Carrie from wearing a dress of her mom’s to school.
Donna LaDonna — who is “just twisted enough to think a connection to tragedy would make her that much more compelling” — seems to be the main B on campus. We can tell by her neon earrings and coordinating belt and minions (Blair Waldorf called, she wants that designation back).
Mouse, Maggie, and Walt (in a pastel sweater) are Carrie’s BFFs. Even though it’s like 8am, there’s already a New Order song being paired with the appearance of the new kid, Sebastian Kidd. And lo and behold, he already knows Carrie!
In the library, we find out that Maggie has been boning, Mouse has a college boyfriend, and Carrie is the only virgin left in the triad. Quote of the entire show: “It was like putting a hotdog in a keyhole.” Maggie is all sketchy and awesome, saying that no one should mention her bedroom antics to her boyfriend... Oh wait, even better quote of the day. Maggie wants Carrie to jump on the Kidd train, “Maybe he’ll hotdog your keyhole.” Carrie “Delightful, that’s just how I’ll ask him.” Maggie: “If you do, then he’ll definitely say yes.” Favorite character alert.
Sebastian is all sensitive and floppy-haired, sitting on Carrie’s favorite bench. Then she says something crazy and he gives her that “you’re a freak” face and holds her hand and we can barely bring ourselves to hate his denim-collared shirt. Flashback to last summer, and the two are in a pool. They kiss — her first. And then he says that romantic thing we all dream about “My parents are putting in a pool” (Swoon.).
IRL, Carrie is stumbling over asking Sebastian to a dance — and her dad totally cockblocks her by showing up and looking all murder-y as he walks down the hall. She flashes back to when her mom died... and faints. Sebastian half-catches her. It would all be very romantic if she weren’t wearing floral jeans and being stared down by her dad.
Turns out it’s all good, though, because Carrie’s going to have an internship at a law office in New York City!
Back at the Bradshaw shack, Carrie finds her mom’s purse in Dorrit’s drug teddy bear. It’s covered in white nail polish. They have a near heart-to-heart except for the part where Dorrit is all teen angst and thick eyeliner. Carrie paints her purse with more nail polish and a Madonna cover announces her exit.
Carrie arrives at her NYC internship and makes metaphors about New York City being like her purse, like all suburban virgins do. The plan is for Carrie to work at this office while wearing knee-length shorts and then take a train to a school dance.
She puts a run in her tights and ditches them. Her super-bitter boss sends her to a department store to buy nude pantyhose. “In this store, I realized you might even be able to change who you are” Cue multiple fannypacks and fashion realizations. A gorgeous British woman named Larissa tells Carrie her bag is fetch and that she’s a style editor for Interview magazine. She wants to put the bag in the mag and she is wearing five neons at the same time. We get it. It’s the ‘80s.
Larissa steals a jumpsuit, Carrie goes back to work, and Larissa sends her a dress to go meet up at a hotspot called Indochine. Obvi, she’s gonna do it.
Back in Connecticut, Mouse tells Carrie via giant telephone that Sebastian called for Carrie’s number. Dorrit sneaks out. Carrie gets in a cab and goes to Indochine instead of back home to go to a lame dance. So she might be cooler than her office-length shorts after all.
Larissa has a table full of friends with names like “Dominic” who are as diverse as a high school math textbook cover.
At the school dance, Donna LaDonna steals Sebastian, just like we would. It’s totally charitable — we wouldn’t want him dancing alone, after all.
Indochine looks like a really cool music video and Carrie finds herself sandwiched between two gay guys (Cue a lifelong love of gay men and her first understanding that she might know someone who is gay IRL). Terrible quote: “I just lost my virginity to a different man... Manhattan.” Just when we were starting to fall in love... ugh.
Walt picks Carrie up from the train and they see Sebastian and Donna in a car, smoking a joint in his Porsche. Carrie is all attitude, because just one night in NYC will do that to you, apparently. “I’ll see you around,” she tells Sebastian. “That’s it?” “For now,” she says, all changed woman-y. Little does she know he’s hotter than like 90% of the grown ups she’ll date in the coming years...
Uh oh, big reveal: Walt and Maggie haven’t had sex. “I had to wonder, if Walt was saying no, who was saying yes?”
Dorrit is missing and then she shows up and Carrie lectures her and they both cry.
Here’s what we’ve learned from the episode:
1) Carrie and Sebastian are totally gonna hook up, as long as she gets rid of Donna LaDonna — as evidenced by C & S playing around in a pool while the minions watch.
2) The Bradshaw family unit is super dysfunctional.
3) Maggie is cheating on Walt with a hot cop.
4) Carrie might become a klepto.
5) Walt is secretly gay.
6) Everyone shops at the same store, except for Carrie’s dad who has no personality, only V-neck sweaters.
Cast of Characters:
Carrie Bradshaw — High school student, out-loud thinker, writer-to-be
Dorrit Bradshaw — Carrie’s 14-year-old sister with a chip on her shoulder.
Maggie — Walt’s girlfriend and one of Carrie’s BFFs. Cheating on Walt with a police officer.
Mouse — Carrie’s other best friend. Lost her V card to a college boy who ditched her.
Walt — Maggie’s boyfriend who loves fashion, hates sports, and knows his coverboys... The closeted gay character.
Sebastian Kidd — The rich new guy, and Carrie’s love interest (and source of her first kiss).
Donna LaDonna — Leader of “The Jens,” wearer of a lot of look, and Carrie’s soon-to-be nemesis
Larissa — Interview magazine fashion editor and adrenaline junkie