1. Carrie is a delight.
Think back to a time before the Sex and the City movies, back when Carrie Bradshaw wasn’t a total pain. I know it’s tough. For those of us who saw Carrie’s descent from relatable young writer to nightmare person, it’s hard to start caring about Ms. Bradshaw again. And yet, the protagonist of The Carrie Diaries is a different Carrie entirely: sweet, naïve, and fashion forward. This Carrie would never complain because her giant-screen TV is taking away attention from her.
2. AnnaSophia Robb is a star to watch.
No matter what happens to The Carrie Diaries, I see big things ahead for AnnaSophia Robb. She stepped into an iconic role and instantly made it her own — she is charming enough to carry this series, and that’s no small feat for a young actor. Assuming she keeps picking roles that suit her, her career should continue its upward trajectory. And I wouldn’t be shocked if she picked up an Emmy nomination for her work on The Carrie Diaries.
3. The fashion is as awesome as you’d expect.
Take an ’80s aesthetic and blend it with Carrie Bradshaw’s unique style and The CW’s commitment to hipness and you get a bunch of ensembles you can’t really take your eyes off of. I’m not sure I’d wear anything I’ve seen on The Carrie Diaries — outside of a costume party — but I’m completely entranced. And so far Carrie is dressing significantly better than she did on Sex and the City. (Please, fashion gods, no tutus.)
4. Sebastian is a dreamboat.
Yeah, I said it. Look, Carrie’s always had good taste in men, but there’s something especially appealing about The Carrie Diaries’ Sebastian Kydd, played by Austin Butler. (He’s 21 in real life, so relax.) I don’t know if it’s his dark past or the bitchin’ jacket or his baby blues — suffice it to stay, I’m smitten. And it’s kind of hard not to be after watching an episode in which he shares his headphones with Carrie so they can listen to The Cars together. Swoon.
5. There’s an intriguing gay storyline.
Sex and the City was always big with the gays, but it’s not like we had much to cling to with Stanford and Anthony, who were louder than they were well developed. That’s why it’s so nice to see Walt on The Carrie Diaries: he’s a young gay teenager just beginning to figure himself out. (It’s the ’80s, so that means lusting after Rob Lowe.) We’ve seen plenty of coming out stories in teen dramas, but the time period gives this some fresh perspective.
6. Carrie has non-white friends.
Diversity in the Sex and the City universe? I’m as shocked as you are. But yes, The Carrie Diaries is far more inclusive than the original HBO series. In particular, there’s Ellen Wong as Carrie’s bestie Jill Chen, also known as The Mouse, and Freema Agyeman, a style editor at Interview magazine who takes Carrie under her (considerably more world-wise) wing. It’s always nice to see more actors of color on TV, but it’s especially great to see them in Carrie Bradshaw’s world.
7. Donna is a revelation.
Carrie’s nemesis Donna LaDonna (seriously) is the most ’80s villain I’ve ever seen outside of a John Hughes movie. She’s pitch-perfect, and she helps give The Carrie Diaries an authentic quality that so many period series lack. She’s also just fun. There’s something special about ’80s bullies. No offense to their modern counterparts, but today’s mean girls lack that spark (and the totally awesome hoop earrings).
8. Carrie’s dad is kind of the best.
Adult characters on CW teen series are hit-or-miss: they’re often relegated to the background, or awkwardly forced into storylines they don’t fit. But Tom Bradshaw is well integrated into The Carrie Diaries — he’s a single dad trying to do what’s best for his daughters while getting past the recent death of his wife. His interactions with Carrie feel grounded and emotionally resonant. Also, he’s kind of hot. Deal with it.
9. Sex is handled with realism and maturity.
This is a Sex and the City prequel, so yes, sex comes up a lot. But it’s neither exploitative nor over-the-top: the sex talk is about what you’d expect from high school-age girls in the ’80s. At the same time, the show respects its characters enough to allow them to explore complex sexual situations and very adult relationships — all without making the viewer feel icky. It’s The Carrie Diaries, not To Catch a Predator.
10. It fills the void.
Gossip Girl is no more. Dawson’s Creek is a distant memory. TV just doesn’t offer the compelling teen dramas it once did: the teens of 90210 aren’t teens any longer, and The Vampire Diaries is solid but too enmeshed in the supernatural to waste time with high school drama. With teen heartbreak and complicated family dynamics, The Carrie Diaries is arguably the most CW show on The CW right now — it makes the absence of The WB a little easier to accept.