AnnaSophia Robb starred on the 2013 CW Series “The Carrie Diaries”, a prequel series to “Sex and the City”
ANDERSON/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

2013, was the year. Infinity scarves, infinity scarves, and colorful bubble necklaces were the fashion of 2013. The lunch table was a place where my ninth and eighth grade classmates traded funny bands. With the pending end of shows such as “House of Anubis” and “Wizards of Waverly Place,” Nickelodeon and Disney Channel were exiting their prime, leaving me searching for something new to consume in my structured TV time.

AnnaSophia Robb was just featured on the cover of Seventeen’s May Swimsuit Issue. This is the first magazine that I remember buying at my Publix. The “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” and “Soul Surfer” star had just turned down an opportunity to attend Stanford UniversityAustin Butler and I will play the lead roles in a brand new TV show.

With countless credits in children's films under her belt, Robb turned down her acceptance Stanford University to take on the role of a lifetime.
Robb was a child-star in many children’s film roles, so she turned down Stanford University acceptance to play the part of a lifetime.
Source: Associated Press

From brief cameos on “iCarly” and “Hannah Montana” to a relationship with Disney royalty Vanessa Hudgens, Butler was the newest heartthrob in young Hollywood. It was a casting match made in heaven for a series called “The Carrie Diaries.” Originally premiering in January 2013, it was prequel to “Sex and the CIty,” a show about a 30-something white woman who I didn’t have the slightest connection to gallivanting around New York City.

“The Carrie Diaries,” which ran for two short seasons on The CW, deserved more praise and more airtime. Set in 1984, in the era of “Ronald Reagan and shoulderpads,” the Candace Bushnell novel-turned-series followed a young Carrie Bradshaw as she navigated relationships, junior year and the sudden death of her mother.

While her friends were embarking on a summer of “firsts,” Bradshaw was engulfed in grief. Eager to escape suburbia, the Connecticut teen secured an internship at a New York City law firm, sending herself to the city where she ultimately found her voice and a sense of belonging — two things I, as a teenager myself, yearned for.

Set in the mid-1980s, "The Carrie Diaries" follows teenage Carrie as she grapples with relationships, junior year and her mother's death.
The Carrie Diaries, set in the middle of 1980s, follows Carrie’s teenage years as she deals with relationship issues, her junior year, and her mother’s death.
Alo Ceballos via Getty Images

Though it’s become the forgotten reboot, “The Carrie Diaries” was a heartfelt exploration of adolescence, sisterhood and sensuality, the latter of which I hadn’t seen portrayed frankly on screen at the time. Each character had a different vantage point on sex and relationships, grappling with expectations about “how fast things should be,” bodily autonomy and consent, sexuality, and more.

While Carrie felt “behind” in comparison to her classmates, her best guy friend Walt Reynolds (Brendan Dooling) was content waiting for sex until marriage or until he found “the right one.” He spent two years dating resident drama queen Maggie Landers (Katie Findlay) and by the end of Season 1, realized his love for a certain male writer named Bennet is much stronger. A moment of vulnerability sees him having sex with Maggie. He was dating an older man, and later went through the emotional rollercoaster ride of teenage pregnancy.

Maggie had an ectopic pregnancy (a missed opportunity to discuss abortion — though it WasAfter the ordeal she learned that sex doesn’t equal caring and loving for another person and that it is not the same thing. On the other hand, the ever-so-loyal Jill “Mouse” Chen (Ellen Wong) was like me. She couldn’t publicly interact with a boy without the risk of being chastised by her immigrant parents. “I can’t consider having a boyfriend until I’ve graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School,” she said.

"The Carrie Diaries" starred (from left to right) Katie Findlay, Stefania Owen, Ellen Wong, Lindsey Gort, AnnaSophia Robb, Austin Butler, Freema Agyeman, Chloe Bridges and Brendan Dooling.
The Carrie Diaries featured (from left-to-right) Katie Findlay and Stefania Owen. Also, Lindsey Gort and AnnaSophia Robb were in the film.
Paul Zimmerman via Getty Images

Eventually, they come to grips with their varied “deflowering” journeys, realizing no one is “behind” and chatting about both sex education and failing their driver’s tests. Full of awkardness, fumbling, and laughter, it was an age-appropriate look at the sex positivity that would later define Bradshaw’s adult writing career.

But apart from her melodramatic pining over Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler), it was Carrie’s pilgrimage to New York that stuck with me most.

Growing up 75 miles south of Atlanta and attending a white Christian private high school, I couldn’t help but connect to young Carrie. Being trapped in the fictional town of Castlebury, Connecticut — only a 60-minute ride away from liberation — deeply resonated with me. After her first outing in Manhattan, she found herself surrounded by people from all walks of life who are “distinctly themselves in a city that celebrated them. It was such a stark contrast to the world I came from, where conformity is demanded,” Carrie said in the pilot. This was the feeling that I sought out when choosing colleges. I desired to find a place with my type of people.

Carrie’s ambition, determination to do it all, and hardheadedness were emblematic of a younger me. Contrary to the narcissism, delusion and selfishness her older character would become known for, young Carrie was the person who took care of everyone else — and she craved being released from that burden. Upon arriving in New York with her most prized possession — a newly refurbished vintage bag of her mother’s — she found a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in a photoshoot. Carrie hides some parts of her self, such as her age, in order to appear more sophisticated and mature when doors are opened in big cities.

In an effort to seem mature and polished, young Carrie concealed her age from friends she made in the city, such as fashion editor Larissa Loughton (Freema Agyeman).
To appear more mature and polished, Carrie, a young woman, concealed her age to friends in the city like Larissa Loughton (Freema Agyeman), fashion editor.
Alo Ceballos via Getty Images

Carrie soon finds happiness in New York City’s autonomy and anonymity. All the while trying to live a dual life. It almost seems real when she creates her own story about herself.

Carrie and Walt had already interned together in Manhattan during the second season. She was given a big decision to make: whether she would attend New York University, or if she wanted to work full-time at Interview Magazine. (Of course, further complicating this choice was her love interest’s departure to California to launch a skateboarding business.)

When those two opportunities were ripped away from her, she was left dismayed — and made the unpopular decision to stay in the city, taking on odd jobs until further notice. Although her fate is known, it’s not clear if her friend group survived college or if Carrie navigated the workplace. We also don’t know how Carrie will be dating.

Carrie the young woman was willing to fight to live her dream life, inspiring me to pursue my dreams.

After two seasons, "The Carrie Diaries" concluded on January 31, 2014 and was not renewed by The CW.
The Carrie Diaries, which aired for two seasons ended on January 31st 2014; The CW has since cancelled it.
Ray Tamarra via Getty Images

Through all of those lessons, she tapped into a deeper, richer version of herself and “The Carrie Diaries” showed viewers that they could dream and do the same. For striving and wanting more, I completely let go of the doubts that others placed on me. Instead, they encouraged me to harness my voice, believe in myself, and achieve everything.

“I wasn’t searching for something or somebody here. I was searching for me,” Carrie said at the end of the pilot. “Finding my voice wasn’t going to be easy but for the first time in a long time, I thought it might be fun.”

We are grateful to Carrie Bradshaw for making this process easier.


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