THE SHOW "The Carrie Diaries"
WHEN | WHERE Monday night at 8 on CW/11
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Based on Candace Bushnell's book of the same name -- about a teen Carrie Bradshaw, who is loosely based on Bushnell -- this opens in 1984 with Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) mourning her mom, who died months earlier from cancer, and wanting one keepsake in particular, her mother's purse. Meanwhile, Carrie has a dream -- to escape her Connecticut 'burb and the claustrophobic world of high school, where the mean girls rule, and pals like Mouse (Ellen Wong) and Maggie (Katie Findlay) fret about boys. She wants to live in Manhattan -- though a new kid, Sebastian (Austin Butler) complicates that dream.
MY SAY I, for one, am thrilled Bushnell has found yet another way to skin the cat otherwise known as her life, adding to a pile that now includes six seasons of "Sex and the City," a pair of movies and who-knows-how-many books. Maybe not "thrilled" -- call the preceding sarcasm -- and if "The Carrie Diaries" turns out to be another TV attempt to push sex on underage teens, then closer to "nauseated."
But based on the pilot, that may not be warranted (yet). Yeah, there's some dirty talk to establish its bona fides (this is about Carrie, after all). And the implied bargain with viewers is that story lines shaped by teen hormonal compulsions will not be ignored, either. But the pilot at least suggests that this coming-of-age story may be more about a search for identity and how loss -- including the loss of virginity -- can complicate or sidetrack that search. "I lost my virginity to a different 'man' -- MANhattan," confesses city-lovestruck Carrie to her diary. Sure, a cringeworthy line, but better than what you could imagine the alternative might be for a 15-year-old named Carrie Bradshaw. Meanwhile, Robb does radiate a youthful innocence -- understandable since Mr. Big is still years in the future.
BOTTOM LINE Mostly boilerplate teen soap that lacks the (umm) zest of "Sex and the City" -- a good thing, in case you're wondering.