Somewhere over the course of two seasons and 26 episodes, I forgot The Carrie Diaries was supposed to be a prequel to Sex and the City, and just let the show stand on its own two feet as an entirely separate entity. In a way, that's the highest compliment I can bestow upon the series, because I was never a big fan of SATC. I found it self-indulgent, and Carrie's inability to make a decision as an adult annoyed me enough that I've probably only seen 10 or 15 episodes, and I'm okay with never revisiting it. The Carrie Diaries, about a teenage Carrie Bradshaw living in Connecticut and Manhattan, has never been a ratings hit for The CW, but that doesn't speak to the series' quality.
While most of the network's series now fall squarely within the realm of genre TV, The Carrie Diaries (along with Hart of Dixie) feels like a series that could have—and probably would have—existed on The WB. Pardon me while I clutch my pearls and channel my inner grandmother, but not every TV show needs to constantly ramp up the drama with sex, drugs, scandalous affairs, and some kind of supernatural romance. We still have a need, at least in my mind, for shows like The Carrie Diaries, shows that can be described as good, clean, coming-of-age dramas. The low ratings that such shows typically receive make it difficult to back that statement up, but The Carries Diaries has always done well in online streaming, which probably says more about the way The CW's audience watches TV than it does about the demand for or the quality of the series itself.
Knowing that "Run to You" might end up being a season finale and a series finale is kind of soul-crushing for someone who was raised by The WB and who wants to see its legacy live on. The Carrie Diaries is one of the best teen dramas currently on the air, and personally, I don't mind its good ol' heartstring-tugging drama. The show's 1980s setting certainly made it easier for the writers to focus on more innocent, family storylines, plus the soundtrack was awesome. But the '80s eventually ended, and so too will this era for Carrie Bradshaw. Now I'm just hoping that she'll get another season first.
And if she does, she's got a lot of reality to face. Carrie thought she knew what she was doing when she opted to forgo NYU for the job at Interview magazine, but things didn't turn out like she thought they would. Larissa was abruptly fired from Interview, and Carrie was swept out with the trash, as she so eloquently told Sebastian. While I hated to see Carrie fail, I applaud the series for knocking Carrie on her ass. Everything was coming so easy to her, and while I understand that in 1986, going to college wasn't necessarily considered as non-negotiable as it is now, I still sided with Tom in the you're-an-idiot-for-passing-up-college camp. At 18, most of us think we're geniuses, and that we've lived long enough to make all our own decisions without any input or advice, but hahaha we're dumb and that's not true. Simply having a high school diploma doesn't mean someone's smart enough to make the right decisions regarding their own future, and the fact that Carrie was fired, and then couldn't get in to classes at NYU, drove home that fact that sometimes our parents really do know what's best for us. They're speaking from experience, and I'll be the first person to admit that at 18 (and 21, and 24, and 26) I probably should have listened to my parents more often. Carrie is lucky to have a father who cares about her future, and as she realized she couldn't pack up and move to Malibu because she'd be running away from something—not toward it, the way Sebastian was—I silently fist-bumped a pretend Tom Bradshaw in my mind.
Much like the Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, Carrie of The Carrie Diaries didn't always make the best choices, but her decision to say in New York and live with Samantha was absolutely the smartest move she could have made. Watching her say goodbye to Sebastian as he departed for the West Coast to run a business with Tony Hawk (LOL) was very sad, because I really enjoyed Sebastian and Carrie together as a couple (also, Austin Butler's face is basically perfection), but that's the natural progression of life. As high school ends and college begins, people's lives change, and sometimes, friends we thought we'd have by our sides forever eventually start living their own lives.
One of the worst tropes in television is the one in which high school friends all go to college together. Making the transition from a high school series to a college series is probably one of the most difficult things a teen drama ever has to face, but sending a close-knit group of 18-year-olds to the same university is more unrealistic than saying they all won the lottery and bought a house next to Emily Thorne in the Hamptons. People mature, they grow up, they go to different colleges. It's just what happens. So it's nice to know that while Carrie and her friends will get to spend the summer together, they'll all go off on their separate journeys come fall. Mouse is headed to Harvard (and she had one last rendezvous with West), Maggie's engaged to Pete (that seemed kind of sudden, right?), Donna's going to Columbia (because homegirl is pretty and smart), and Walt is back with Bennet and will be attending college in the city in the fall. All of these characters will be moving on with their lives, and that's the way it should be. As sad as I'll be to say goodbye to The Carrie Diaries if/when the axe comes down on the show in May, at least "Run To You" gave us a real ending. All of the show's loose threads were tied up, and I feel good about saying goodbye to this version of Carrie Bradshaw, even if I don't really want to.
– Larissa's wedding to Harlan took place in an actual airport terminal. Not that I think that was actually possible in 1986, but could you imagine someone trying to do that in 2014?
– For the record, can I just state how much I love the way Walt and Bennet's storyline played out? Having a gay couple in a series set in the '80s made me really happy, and it was a perfect setting to explore that world. Even though it's unlikely they stay together, they ended up happy as of the finale and that's great.
– Maggie got engaged in a laundromat. Romantic.
– It's going to cost $550/month to live in that awesome loft in New York in 1986. Sigh. Looking back on that now, it seems hilarious.
– I don't really care much about Samantha and Elliott. Sorry, bro. Tough luck.
– Who knew Donna LaDonna would become such an awesome character?
AIRED ON 1/31/2014
Season 2 : Episode 13