It didn’t take long after the first episode of “Sex and the City” in 1998 for the television show to become a household name. Women all over the country could relate to Sarah Jessica Parker (“New Year’s Eve”) as Carrie Bradshaw: the single, Manhattan-based, sex columnist gal who strived for the perfect balance between having a lasting relationship and staying true to herself. Many still wondered how she had ended up in the Big Apple as not only a writer, but also as an independent, strong woman. Loosely based on the novels, “The Carrie Diaries” and “Summer in the City” by Candace Bushnell, “The Carrie Diaries” takes any “Sex and the City” lover back to the time before Carrie was a sex columnist, before she was a fashion idol and especially before Mr. Big.

“The Carrie Diaries” rewinds time to 1984. Carrie, played by AnnaSophia Robb (“Soul Surfer”) is a 16-year-old girl living in small-town Connecticut with Matt Letscher (TV’s “Scandal”) as her overwhelmed father and her unruly sister, Dorrit played by Stefania Owen (“The Lovely Bones”). Carrie is a typical teenage girl, who has three best friends and a serious crush on the new boy in school. Within the first three episodes of season one, Carrie’s best friend has her heart broken, another friend loses her virginity and another friend is hiding the fact he is gay. Carrie has already gotten in serious trouble with her father (which comes as no surprise since the older Carrie in “Sex and the City” always pushes boundaries with rules and expectations), and she has fallen in love with a boy, Sebastian, played by Austin Butler (“My Uncle Rafael”).

Even with all of these adventures, Carrie still has time for an internship at a law firm in New York City. Her first trip into the city opens her eyes to the world outside of small-town Connecticut. Robb does a great job expressing her excitement through her facial expressions as she looks at the city around her in wonder.

It isn’t long before Carrie meets Larissa, portrayed by Freema Agyeman (UK’s “Doctor Who”), an editor for Interview Magazine, which happens to be Carrie’s all-time favorite publication. That chance meeting ignites the spark in Carrie to start writing with hope that one day she will appear in Interview.

Trouble is soon to come for Carrie when she has to decide if she should defy her father to move to New York City, quit her internship at the law firm and instead become a writer. Whatever choice she ends up making, it’s clear from the pilot episode the one thing she’s sure of is her love for Manhattan. And as every avid “Sex and the City” viewer knows, that love never weakens.

“The Carrie Diaries” is a spin-off from a book, not the television show “Sex and the City,” meaning although everyone knows the adult Carrie Bradshaw, not everything in “The Carrie Diaries” adds up to her character. This has seemed to make the show a big disappointment for some Carrie Bradshaw fans. It doesn’t seem realistic Carrie is so close with her father and sister in “The Carrie Diaries” since they’re not mentioned once throughout all six seasons of “Sex and the City.” Another difference between young Carrie and adult Carrie is the fact young Carrie is against cigarettes. Anybody who has ever watched “Sex and the City” can tell you Carrie Bradshaw smokes like a chimney.

After getting past those small changes and taking note the television show is based on a novel, “The Carrie Diaries” is a well-written, enjoyable show for young adults. It shows real-life problems that teenagers all over the country could relate to. The television show’s common themes are the importance of friendship and having self-esteem, which are great messages to be sending out to young adults. And don’t worry, the viewer still gets to hear Carrie’s famous monologues, and most episodes end with her writing at her desk, just like in “Sex and the City.”

The cast is full of great actors, the storyline is enchanting and attention-grabbing and it’s fabulous for true “Sex and the City” fans to visually see what Carrie was like as a teenager.
One thing is definitely missing though, and that would be Mr. Big. For every “Sex and the City” fan out there, it hopefully won’t be too long before he makes his life-altering appearance into Carrie Bradshaw’s life.

Four out of five stars