March 18, 2013
I hadn’t seen the premiere of The Carrie Diaries before I was in attendance for its panel at this Winter’s TCA Press Tour. It was during my final day at tour, which meant that I had sat through dozens of similar panels, and I had seen producers and stars who were disengaged with the proceedings. Admittedly, “doing press” is not always going to be particularly natural, and so I’m not necessarily judging those who didn’t acquit themselves in the best possible fashion. However, it makes people like The Carrie Diaries‘ Amy B. Harris all the more unique: someone who came to the event not just with something to say, but rather with something to contribute.
I have no relationship to Sex and the City beyond a few stray episodes: I was a bit too young when it premiered to be watching premium cable series on a regular basis, and it never rose to the top of a list of shows to catch up on. And so I approached The Carrie Diaries less as an extension of a franchise (although see Courtney Brannon Donoghue’s recent piece for more on that), and more simply as a coming-of-age story in the CW mould. However, Harris’ comments during that panel very much shaped how I approached the series: she seemed to anticipate the kinds of questions she would be asked, and had come prepared with answers that were confident without seeming infallible. It wasn’t the kind of panel that was laugh-out-loud funny, but rather a panel that instilled confidence in the creative vision of a show I hadn’t yet had the chance to watch.
I watched the first three episodes of The Carrie Diaries on the trip back from Los Angeles, and enjoyed them. I’ve watched the six episodes since then, and I’ve mostly enjoyed those as well. However, as I’ve been following along with Carrie Raisler’s great reviews over at The A.V. Club, I’ve also realized that I’ve yet to find that moment where I feel the show has become everything that panel made it out to be. There have been moments, and storylines, which have reaffirmed the confidence I had after leaving that panel; there have also been moments that have shown a show still finding its footing, still aspiring to something it hasn’t yet achieved.
And yet I’m not sure my confidence has waned, necessarily. Some of this has to do with the fact that I was at the TCA panel, and watched the show within that context, and may be more apt to focus on the parts of the show that speak to that potential. However, additionally, I’ve come to understand The Carrie Diaries‘ first season as less a cohesive statement of what the show wants to be, and more an uneven platform to explore the question of its identity before moving forward with a greater sense of itself, something I want to explore briefly as the season heads into its final four episodes of the season (or the series, should it sadly not be renewed).