Where did Carrie Bradshaw come from? Who was she before she was the Carrie we saw on Sex and the City? Those are the questions at the center of The CW’s new show, The Carrie Diaries. Executive producer Amy B. Harris, Sex and the City/Carrie Diaries writer Candace Bushnell and star AnnaSophia Robb previewed the show at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Where did the idea for The Carrie Diaries come from?

Candace Bushnell:  When I was writing Sex and the City... I was really just trying to write about Carrie Bradshaw and this particular phenomenon of single women in their 30s in New York City and finding themselves with this kind of life that they never envisioned that they would have had in the ’80s when they first moved to New York.  

They all thought that they would be married and have kids by the time they were in their mid-30s.  So I wasn’t thinking about her back-story at all.  

When I was writing the books… I had to really go back and think about it, and I just did what I felt was right for the character in writing the book.  And I did draw a lot on my own experiences when I was a teenager in my small town, and all I wanted to do was — I knew there was big world out there, and all I wanted to do was explore it.

What can we expect from the show?

Amy B. Harris: I really saw this as an origin story.  So if you look at Smallville, which I think is a very good example where you’re meeting Clark Kent before he realizes he has super powers.  If you’re meeting Carrie Bradshaw, I wanted to meet her before she had sex, before she fell in love, and before she met Manhattan.

What will it all look like?

Amy B. Harris: Having Carrie’s mother’s closet to play with, she’s got a lot of ’60s and ’70s clothes in there that she’s also mixing and matching.  And so we are going to have — that’s sort of how Carrie Bradshaw becomes the girl who does vintage mixed with couture, seeing how that all plays out now.

We work really hard, especially when we are on the streets of Manhattan.  We travel with what we like to call our ’80s kit:  some graffiti, trash, gross garbage cans.

The ’80s was very different in Manhattan.  It was not, you know, pretty Time Square.  It was scary Time Square. That’s what I love about that Manhattan is it was very sexy, but it also had a lot of danger to it.  We have picture cards.  Every single extra goes through hair, wardrobe, makeup, to make them look like they are ’80s.  

You know, we have to green-screen out some stuff that suddenly shows up where we see in the background, okay.  There’s a 646 number on that building.  Those numbers didn’t exist.  So we are really trying to stay authentically true to the period as best we can

Who are we getting for the young Carrie?

Candace Bushnell: I love that AnnaSophia went to high school and had the real high school experiences, and I think she really brings that to the character. In a sense she’s living Carrie Bradshaw because she’s living in the city for the first time and, in a sense, is experiencing everything that Carrie is actually experiencing.  So I think it brings a real authenticity to the part.

AnnaSophia Robb: Well, when I landed the role, I remember having a conversation with Amy, and she said, “We don’t want you to emulate Sarah Jessica’s performance because, you know, obviously, she did it.”    

I loved the show Sex and the City.  I still watch it.  I try to watch an episode every night even though that doesn’t really happen because we work long hours, but I’d like to.  So really my character is a combination of the books, the script, what I’m bringing to the role, Amy’s vision for the character, and myself.  And I realized, as we go on, I feel like I’m becoming more like Carrie or Carrie is becoming more like me

[Sarah Jessica Parker] sent me a very lovely note just kind of giving me her blessing and encouraging me and telling me how excited she was and how dear the part was to her, and so that was huge for me because, you know, I was obviously nervous.  I was, like, “Is this okay?”  And so it just meant a lot to be able to have her blessing

The Carrie Diaries premieres at 9pm on The CW.

(Images courtesy of The CW)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.