In January, I chose The Carrie Diaries as one of 2013's Six Best New Shows based on the pilot alone. Thankfully, the subsequent 12 episodes were touching, charming and poignant hours that not only expanded upon a character fans thought they knew inside and out, but allowed executive producer Amy B. Harris to explore themes that are (sadly) as topical now as they were in 1984.
As a result of the aforementioned elements, the second season is now one of my most anticipated fall premieres.
To find out what fans can expect from the next batch of episodes, I caught up with EP Amy B. Harris to talk about the arrival of Samantha Jones, how it delayed the introduction of Stanford Blatch, where we find Carrie after a summer in the city and what's next in Walt's wonderful coming-out story.
ETonline: When you heard The Carrie Diaries was picked up for a second season, what was the first story you were excited to tackle?
Amy B. Harris: Bringing Samantha in. That was the thing we talked about when we pitched the pilot. I told Peter Roth that my goal was to bring Samantha in at the very end of season one, but it felt too overwhelming to introduce this huge character. So we ended on this big note of Sebastian kissing Maggie, and the first thing I wanted to do in season two was bring Samantha in. That was a really exciting thing for me to do; it feels realistic and real and exciting.
ETonline: I have to say, the casting of Lindsey Gort is spot on.
Harris: It's really funny because you always think you won't find the actress early on. Weirdly my casting director sent me a few people to consider but said there's one particular girl who is phenomenal as an actress and looks a like lot Kim [Cattrall]. I assumed he was swayed by how much she looked like Kim, but her performance was perfection. She's funny and light and outrageous, but also sexy -- the sexy has to be there, but anyone who went for the va-va-va-voom totally missed the point of the character. Lindsay just owned it from the get-go. She was our first choice from the beginning, but we assumed that couldn't be it. The first person I click on can't be the right choice, but she was just incredible.
ETonline: Can you say how Samantha comes into Carrie's world?
Harris: They have an odd person in common: Donna LaDonna, which is based on the books.
ETonline: That relationship is so iconic to SATC fans. As a showrunner, how do you approach telling the beginning of Carrie and Samantha's story?
Harris: We talked about that a lot. We weren't sure if they were immediate friends. What we realized is that, in the first season, Carrie was very burdened by her sense of responsibility to her friends and her family. What Samantha brings to the table is the idea that you have to take care of yourself first. No one is there for you like you will be there for you. Sam's backstory is rough and tumble; she's been surviving on her own for a while. And what Carrie brings to Samantha is the idea that if you actually let people in, they will care about you. It's a process and I don't want their journey to end in episode one. There are ups and downs, but they have instant chemistry.
ETonline: You also name-checked Stanford in the season one finale since he's Bennet's roommate. Will he be brought in early this season as well?
Harris: We're bringing him in a little later than originally planned because we want to give Samantha her due, but we will be bringing him in this season.
ETonline: I would say that the biggest success of season one is the incredible coming-out story you told through Walt. What excites you about telling the next step in his journey?
Harris: Look, I'm very happy that being gay and married and having kids has become such an accepted piece of the fabric of America, but in 1985 it really wasn't -- and in a lot of places in America, it still isn't. I get to tell that story through the prism of 1985, but I hope, either through nostalgia or their current experience, the people who have gone through that experience connect to it. This is my gem and the storyline I feel most protective of.
ETonline: What does the future hold for Walt and Bennet?
Harris: I think what's interesting for Walt is that his WASP trumps his gay. So Walt is going to struggle with how to be true to himself while also being in a relationship. There's going to be some surprises thrown his way because Bennet will have a different idea of what’s they're doing initially.
ETonline: The season ended with Maggie kissing Sebastian. Obviously that's not going to sit well with Carrie.
Harris: I have such a soft spot for Maggie because I think she's kind of a mess. Unlike Donna who immediately realized Walt was gay because he wasn't attracted to her, Maggie is so insecure that she took it all on herself and never saw what it was. I feel bad for her. She's got some bad self-esteem and thinks attention from men is the same as love. I was not that girl in high school, but I know a lot of girls who were. I think she's on a path that's not so great, but through her friends and some surprising confidants in season two, she's going to be OK ... I hope.
ETonline: Should be interesting to see Maggie and Samantha!
Harris: Worry more about Samantha and Larissa. Those are two titans in Carrie's life.
ETonline: Will it be a clash of the titans?
Harris: It could be! It could be! They’re such a tricky twosome.
The Carrie Diaries premieres October 25 at 8 p.m. on The CW.