The problems are as follows:
#1 - It doesn't embrace the 80's - with SO much nostalgia attached to the 80's, you'd think this show would try harder to grasp what the period was all about, but it doesn't. Quite the contrary, it works extra hard to feel more "timeless", so as not to scare off its core CW demographic ... Most of whom would have no recollection or appreciation of the 80's. So other than an occasional wink, it NEVER feels like the decade its set in, which is a purposeful blunder on their part...
... But then when Carrie Diaries TRIES, it gets it all wrong. Characters looks like they are wearing "80's costumes", instead of looking like 80's people. They don't walk like its the 80's. They don't talk like its the 80's. They don't even do their hair like the 80's. Everything looks like stage props, from the worn, vintage "Interview magazine", to the walkman they revolve a whole scene around, just to remind you which decade they are in. They should consult "That 70's Show" to take notes on how to get the feel of a period RIGHT.
#2 - Highschool Cliche 101 - its the CW, so they resort to most of the typical highschool drama cookie-cutter BS, with the "mean girl bullies", including the Queen bee and her racially diverse subordinates, cuz ... that's real. You've got the cheerleaders dressed in their cheerleader outfits on the first day of school, along with half of everyone else in letterman jackets, cuz that's what people can relate to. Girls that tolerate having a nickname like "Mouse" and guys affectionately referring to people by their last names ... I mean, does anyone actually DO that?!? Then, of course, you have the usual dynamic of the "evil rich kids" vs "poor, victimized, upper middle class kids". They're just not TRYING.
#3 - Too much of Nothing - the ORIGINAL Sex & the City was harmless, lighthearted, escapism for 30 min each week. The Carrie Diaries is TWICE as long, yet with only a fraction of the substance. Carrie's stick-figure of a father is just thrown in as a set piece/recurring obstacle, yet we're supposed to care about him somehow ... Her friends are boring and one dimensional with their *yawn* "stories" consuming half of every episode ... And then the token 80's hipster socialite black chick (go, diversity!) that "adopts" Carrie into her circle and teaches all about "the big city"... She's got a British accent, so you KNOW she's trendy and worldly ... yet completely oblivious to the fact that's she's hanging out with a 16 year old. Trash.
I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and ON with everything that's wrong with Carrie Diaries. But suffice it to say that it is just BAD. People that loved SATC would hate it, and people that are unfamiliar with it, won't get the point.
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