I didn’t expect to like “The Carrie Diaries”, or ever watch the show for that matter. I assumed it was a show meant for teens and tweens and considering I was a college graduate, wanted nothing to do with a little High School drama airing on the CW. However, last week I was taking care of my sister after she had four impacted wisdom teeth pulled, and, trying to find a light fun show on Netflix, we settled on “The Carrie Diaries”. I immediately fell in love with the pilot and managed to watch 10 episodes in two days.
One of the most surprising aspects of the show is Carrie’s assertiveness in her own sexuality. Now, I know this may not be too surprising for some of you considering this is the same Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City”, a woman very comfortable with her body and sex life as a single woman in her thirties. However, this show is about High School. Remember High School? I try not to either. But think of yourself and your emerging sexuality. It was awkward, embarrassing and there was a ton of pressure to get into sexual situations that you weren’t necessarily comfortable with or ready for.
In the third episode,”Read Before Use” Carrie goes to a trendy New York City art exhibition where a former porn star, Monica Penny, is the featured artist in a performance piece entitled “Monica Penny: Take Back the vagina”. At first, Carrie is enamored by Monica Penny and her empowered attitude but turns timid when she is pressured into putting a penny into the jar next to Monica’s throne, which means that Monica will open her legs to reveal her vagina. After Carrie places the penny in the jar and gets a good look, Monica calls Carrie on stage, comments on Carrie’s youth, and says “Never let a man, any man, make your decisions!” in which Carrie fervently responds, “I won’t!”. After this exchange, Monica and the crowd try to get Carrie to “Take the thrown”–in other words, open her legs and reveal her vagina to the world. Instead of succumbing to the hip New York City crowds’ cheers, she politely declines and runs out of the room. Her friend Larissa, who works at Interview Magazine and brought her to the art exhibition, follows her and essentially tells her she’s not sexually liberated. In response Carrie says, “You may think doing this is a good idea, and Monica Penny may think it’s a good idea, and everyone here may think it’s a good idea, but I don’t. So I said no and that’s me, owning my power.” That’s some pretty heavy empowerment right there. As a High School student, Carrie doesn’t feel comfortable enough to show her vagina to a room full of strangers and that’s fine, even if the other people in the room don’t think it’s “feminist” enough. What it comes down to is that Carrie’s vagina is her own, and she can do whatever she wants with her body, because it’s what makes her feel in control.
Another impressive moment in the series is in episode seven, “Caught”, when Carrie sits in the back of a parked limo with an older boyfriend who attended a school dance with her, and he tries to force her to give him head/have sex with him. Carrie refuses and in the all too common scenario he aggressively tells her, “Is this your thing? You dangle it in front of a guy and then don’t give it up?” (the “thing” I assume is that Carrie likes kissing her boyfriend and looks really pretty in her sparkly dress). When she explains that she’s not comfortable having sex in the back of the limo and is a virgin, he tells her he’s “cool with it” and isn’t like other guys who wouldn’t want to have sex with her (further shaming her body as something “undesirable” to certain men). Carrie responds with, “I’m sorry but it’s not something for you to be cool with or not. It’s about me and what I want”. Carrie breaks up with him right after he implies that she give him oral sex (because she owes him one for being a virgin, right?) and gets out of the car.
Someone without Carrie’s confidence and assertiveness could have gone on to do something she wasn’t comfortable with simply to please the other man. His aggressive manner and speak is inappropriate, but unfortunately very common in real life–both in High School and beyond. Watching this scene, I thought how great it was that young girls will watch this and realize their sex life isn’t about pleasing others-it’s about what they want, and they always have the power to say no.
“The Carrie Diaries” just finished it’s second season on the CW. However, 13 delicious first season episodes are currently available on Netflix.