THE CARRIE DIARIES: Amy B. Harris on Carrie’s History, Her New Romances, and More
January 14, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
Nearly nine years after SEX AND THE CITY went off the air, Carrie Bradshaw once again joins the television landscape with the premiere of THE CARRIE DIARIES. (Airing Mondays at 8 PM on The CW.)
This time around, Carrie is in high school, which means viewers will get to experience her discovering Manhattan for the first time, falling in love, making new friends, and mourning the death of her mother, as she and her father and sister adjust to their new live. (And yes, that last one doesn’t exactly line up with the HBO series, where Carrie said her father abandoned the family. However, it does match up with what “The Carrie Diaries” books say.)
I spoke with THE CARRIE DIARIES executive producer Amy B. Harris (who was also a writer on SEX AND THE CITY), about this “new” Carrie, her romances, having an endpoint, and more…
You obviously have a long history with SEX AND THE CITY and the Carrie character. Do you feel that gives you an extra voice in your head saying, “We know what happened on the original show”? Or is that just extra bonus info?
Amy B. Harris: What I feel like is very similar to the fans — I feel a great responsibility to be true to Carrie Bradshaw and who she is and who the adult Carrie Bradshaw becomes. I feel a responsibility to that. And yes, I often think about stuff we talked about in the writers’ room that we never got to do and I get to do [now] and I feel lucky about. But it definitely adds a very interesting layer; for me, it’s always been a positive as opposed to a negative. I don’t feel it constricts me. It feels like in a way it’s so exciting to write to an end point. So I actually love that. What’s more fun than knowing where you’re going?
Is that something you necessarily do know, though? AnnaSophia Robb’s version of Carrie does have a different backstory than the one Sarah Jessica Parker played in the HBO story, and there are things in this show from the books. Has there ever been any thought that this could be its own story and doesn’t have to lead to her eventually meeting Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, or to her meeting Mr. Big?
AH: That’s such a good question. I always thought it was leading towards where [Candace Bushnell's] book starts. She had Miranda, she had Samantha, she had Charlotte in the book, so I always felt — and [having] worked on the series — I always felt that was our through line.
But it is different. I know there are fans who are not happy about it. What I feel is I have to write — similar to what we did on SEX AND THE CITY — I have to write what I’m interested in, and what I’m thinking about and talking about and what the writers room is thinking and talking about. And hopefully people will love it. And hopefully people who are mad about the backstory will at least come and watch it and maybe change their minds. And if they don’t, I’m sorry for that, but I do hope they reconsider. Because I do think it’s a very wonderful, legitimate backstory that really explains in a beautiful way why Carrie becomes the adult Carrie.
CW shows are certainly known for their romances — love triangles, will-they-won’t-they, and then the occasional solid pair. What can you say about how Carrie’s relationship will develop with Austin Butler’s Sebastian?
AH: I think, in a way, the Carrie and Big relationship is a good example: it was a will-they-won’t-they, sometimes it was a triangle, and sometimes it was exploring the intricacies of being in a relationship. For me, I think it will play a big role for at least the first two or three seasons.
I mean, when Big came in, we thought he might leave after season 1 when she says, “Tell me you potentially I think I’m the one” and he said no. And we wondered would he come back. We actually weren’t sure. And then we couldn’t figure out how to bring him back after the second breakup, and then [SEX AND THE CITY showrunner] Michael Patrick [King] came up with the brilliant idea that they had the affair, and it’s like, can they recover from that? The good news about life and the bad news about life is that life is long. So that relationship will be a big one for her, but it will be a constant struggle.
We did get a few hints about her teenage years from the HBO series — we knew about her high school boyfriend, Jeremy (played in the HBO show by David Duchovny) and she did describe the awkwardness of her first time having sex. Will either of those things come into play here?
AH: I would love to figure out how to bring Jeremy in, because I think that would be really fun. And I just love David Duchovny so much that if I could find a mini-David Duchovny, nothing could make me happier. When he came on set, all the women were like, [girly voice] “Hi!”
He was a good crazy person!
AH: He was great. Because it sort of seemed like he wouldn’t be and then you’re like, “Oh, there he is. Crazy as a loon!”
But I’m not wed to how [Carrie] lost her virginity being the way she lost her virginity, for sure. And maybe I am bringing a lot of my personal experiences to the character. I made her dad a lawyer; my father’s a lawyer. I struggled greatly to explain to my two attorney parents that I didn’t want to be a lawyer and I might have other dreams for myself. You have to find something to write about that’s interesting to you, and so some of the stuff will veer from the book, from the series, because we have to write a series we want to chase down.
Is there are a certain kind of viewer you’re really hoping to attract with the show?
AH: No, for me — and this may be really Pollyanna on my part — but on SEX AND THE CITY, we were just writing what we were interested in, what we were talking about kind of secretly, behind closed doors, and then we put it out in the open.
This show for me, I love it. I feel like I’m telling the stories I always dreamed about telling and the fact that I get to tell them for Carrie Bradshaw is the dream of all dreams. And so for me, I feel like I was obsessed with LAGUNA BEACH the reality show, and I talked in therapy a lot about it, like, “Why am I so obsessed with this show, I’m not in high school anymore?” And then you do realize all of these experiences you have end up shaping how you date, who you become, who you’re going to be, the choices you make after that.
So, for me, I feel like if the SEX AND THE CITY audience comes and feels like this was my coming of age story, or I so relate, or I’m so horrified, or I’m Mouse or I’m Maggie, that will be fantastic. And I do feel like there isn’t a high school out there that is talking about what sex feels like and how do you know if you’re good in bed, or what if you are dating someone who’s gay…how does that impact who you are in a relationship?
And so, I think, I hope, high school kids will come, too. I just think if you write — and this is the Pollyanna part of me — I feel like if you write something authentic and you’re interested in, you tap into something for other people, they’ll come.
THE CARRIE DIARIES premieres tonight at 8 PM on The CW. And make sure to check back soon for more from my chat with Harris!