Polka dots, frilly skirts, shoulder pads, thick eyebrows, frizzy hair, pantyhose and teenage angst while Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blares in the background. The only thing missing is the famous love team of Andrew McCarthy and Mollie Ringwald of the Gen X classic “Pretty in Pink”.
A prequel to the much celebrated “Sex and the City”, CW premiered its latest teen drama series “The Carrie Diaries”, the story of the lovable cosmopolitan New Yorker Carrie Bradshaw back when she was still starting out in corporate America during her junior year in high school as a youthful, naïve and gawky teenager.
The setting is 1984 in what seemed like suburban New York where Carrie goes to school with her friends Jill, Walt and Maggie. She lives with her younger and quite rebellious teenage sister Doritt and their loving father Tom who bravely took the role of mom and dad albeit with a heavy heart after his wife passed away. Of course, as any other teenage drama would have, Carrie has her “bullies” and her love interest, Sebastian.
Carrie started out in the episode with her initial journey towards self-realization and empowerment when she got invited to a high-profile Manhattan party courtesy of her fashion magazine editor friend and would be mentor, Larissa Loughton. The young Carrie, much similar to her future self, somehow likened her first taste of the Manhattan social life to losing her virginity.
Like most of the Gen X flicks that we saw when we were growing up, the teenagers in Carrie’s world seemed so absorbed with issues involving sex, virginity (how to lose it and when), peer pressure and relationships.
Actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s footprints were all over this premiere episode expectedly not just through her famous Carrie Bradshaw monologues, frizzy hair and frilly outfits but also through the soundtrack of her teenage film “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” subtly injected, serving as background music in one of the segments showing the teenage Carrie musing over her diary entries by her bedroom window.
The younger generation watching this show may look at this 80’s offering as an interesting way to review the sophisticated Bradshaw’s colorful past but for those of us who actually know what it was like to live in that era and experienced what it had to offer, it’s a great opportunity to revisit the past.
Although I was too young to be in Carrie’s shoes in 1984, this series took me back to the era of “flamboyant” fashion that Generation X was generally known for: colorful plastic earrings, bulky blazers with regal shoulder paddings, moussed frizzy and teased hair held in place by spray net and super gels.
The sight of Carrie listening to music on her corded walkman, making a phone call in a restaurant that housed a humongous pay phone in a phone booth, wearing big dark shades much like Corey Hart’s on his hit video and song “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” and seeing young people talking in a party without holding their cell phones to text and tweet each other are both heartwarming and well, hilarious.
If you’re a child of the 80’s or even the 90’s, whether you like “Sex and the City” or not, this dramedy is a must-see. It’s a trip down memory lane where you can give yourself a chance to laugh, cringe or cry at what you used to be.
The best part of this TV series, in my opinion, is the background music played within segments. It was great to hear Kenny Loggins singing “Footloose”, Kim Carnes, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and those throwback hits of the bygone days of the new wave era.