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The Carrie Diaries, a prequel that chronicles the high school years of Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw, debuts in January on the CW, but not before an entire fall season of promoting goes down. First stop, the trailer (see it after the jump!). Next, the creators of the show, author Candace Bushnell and Amy Harris (who wrote SATC, the book and show, respectively) explain everything that went into creating the backstory of a beloved character, from the fashion to friends to one heartthrob, Sebastian (played by Austin Butler of The Bling Ring).
Fun show teasers include the young Carrie, AnnaSophia Robb, wearing a curly blonde wig for wardrobing ease, a camel featuring in a photoshoot at some point in the first season, and the info that the actors were given Desperately Seeking Susan, Sixteen Candles, and other seminal eighties classics to understand what high school was like in 1984. Read on to learn how Amy and Candace conceptualized the story of Carrie Bradshaw becoming the Carrie Bradshaw.
On figuring out who a young Carrie would be:
Candace: I do think that the character Carrie Bradshaw became quite iconic so the question is, was she born that way? Well, nobody is born that way. And it's all about a kind of classic story of small town boy or girl goes to the big city and what happens to them.
Amy: I just remember being a little nervous because I had my own point of view about who Carrie might be and I thought so does the audience, what's this going to be like [...] but what I loved so much about what [Candace] had done—we didn't talk about what Carrie's family a lot because we sort of felt like once you're in New York, and your friends become your family, that's it's own thing. But I always thought Carrie was so wonderfully dysfunctional about men for more complicated reasons than things than like her dad left, and I thought that the idea that she had lost her mother was such a brilliant way to talk about why we are afraid in our relationships.
On deciding to have Carrie grow up without a mother:
Amy: We had this whole debate about whether or not to even put in that little moment in that episode about Carrie's dad [where it's explained that Carrie's dad left her family]. I personally never felt that it rang all that true for her. And so when I read the book and started debating what you wanted the mythology to be, I just thought that this is going to be different than the [SATC] series and that's okay. There will be a lot of fun things about how Carrie becomes the Carrie she is from different precursors of fashion, like a 'C' necklace instead of a 'Carrie' necklace, to why she doesn't like to cook. All of those different things will come up along the way as little fun Easter eggs for our audience, but I felt like we had to tell stories for years to come and I wanted a backstory that I was interested in talking about.
On making mistakes:
Amy: [Carrie] makes sort of really human mistakes. That's why I've always loved writing her and thinking about her and the young Carrie gets to make even more mistakes in a way because you're not like, 'well, you're too old be making that mistake!' This is what you're supposed to be doing.
Candace: Actually, I think that's a really interesting point to bring up. I think one of the great fun aspects of doing the young Carrie Bradshaw is that she can make every mistake in the book, and make all the mistakes that we've made, and we still have sympathy for her. We don't have as much sympathy for 60-year-old women who are still making the same mistakes as 18-year-olds—and that's called the Real Housewives.
On rabid don't-mess-with-the-Carrie-I-know fans:
Amy: I really wanted to do it because I have so much to say about coming of age and growing up and seeing Manhattan for the first time and experiencing all those things. But we're really appreciative of the fans and felt we really didn't want to disappoint. And I know a lot of people have different points of view about whether it's a good idea or not a good idea to do the series, but I just felt like if I could find an interesting, authentic way of telling the story, I want to tell it. But I was still like, 'oh god, I hope they don't come after me with pitchforks.'
Candace: I actually wasn't worried about it. For me, when I was writing the books, it's always daunting to have that blank computer screen and know that you have to sit there for the next eight hours for the next eight months. You really have to go on your gut, you can't check with people, there's no audience test until the very end, so you have to go with your gut in the moment of what feels right for the character at that time.
On Sarah Jessica Parker's torch passing:
AnnaSophia: [SJP] sent me a really lovely note of encouragement, sort of passing the torch, and just graduating me, and giving me her approval. It was very sweet of her; I was not expecting that at all. I feel very honored to take on this role.
On avoiding mini-Miranda/Samantha/Charlottes:
Amy: We didn't want to do the "Baby Muppet Syndrome." That was very important to me that we just really populate her world with great archetypes but in many ways different archetypes from [SATC]. And my whole thing is there were never be a Charlotte because nobody would be a Charlotte until they've had their heart broken two or three times. So having that innocence—most people don't get to keep that. But it was important to me to create real characters, the kind of people who will shape who Carrie becomes so that when she meets Miranda or Samantha or Charlotte, why is she attracted to those people, well she had a friend like Maggie, who was like this, or Mouse was intense about her grades, and got her heart broken and felt fragile. So it's like these are all characters that I think are very different from the SATC characters but still strong archetypes that kind of allow us what I like to call "fun coffee shop scenes," to have a lot of strong points of view about the topic of the episode.
Candace: I felt like those were really the kinds of girls I was friends with in high school. I remembered my friends as being kind of unique and none of us really fitting into any one specific group, like being a cheerleader or totally being a geek or any of those kinds of things. I think kids in high school have little bits of those sort of cliched characters but they're not all that. And I think that's what's so great about how the characters translated to the screen. You know, they're recognizable but they're complicated.
On the '80s-ish fashion:
Amy: What we really hoped for, also, is what we called "aspirational authenticity." We didn't want to do parachute pants and thin glasses in a cartoony way. It's in a very take-it-to-the-next-level, 2012, go buy it at H&M, not I went to a museum and picked this up.
On Googling the '80s:
AnnaSophia: I've been watching '80s films and TV and going online and Googling
"'80s," you know Andy Warhol and going to museums—I know that probably sounds terrible but I am. And we've been listening to a lot of '80s music, always in the wardrobe department. And getting into it, feeling the vibes. [...] It's kind of like a time warp, it feels like I'm playing pretend on a very large scale.
Though all ye SATC diehards might be disappointed in some of the changes, the show is at least worth it for the '80s music alone (Google them today!). Catch it in January.
· Carrie Bradshaw Is Coming to the CW... As a High School Senior [Racked]