'Carrie Diaries' Boss Answers Finale's Biggest Questions and Talks Season 2
Carrie and Sebastian are like "pinballs in a pinball machine," executive producer Amy B. Harris tells THR following the season closer. "They are constantly going to be banging up against each other -- and sometimes that hurts."
[Warning: Major spoilers from the season finale of The Carrie Diaries.]
Things are changing on The Carrie Diaries.
With Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) moving into Manhattan with Walt (Brendan Dooling) following Carrie's discovery of Sebastian (Austin Butler) and Maggie's (Katie Findlay) affair -- not to mention Maggie's outburst after finding out Walt's sexuality -- a lot of loose ends are still left untied. "When I was writing the finale, I thought a lot about the past, your present and what you want for your future," executive producer Amy B. Harris tells The Hollywood Reporter, "but it was also about what happiness looks like, and happiness is a rollercoaster."
She adds: "I liked the idea of blowing things up for a lot of the characters and seeing what's happened. It's a very exciting episode and in some ways, it's a very revealing episode for people's characters -- in particular Maggie."
Harris breaks down the season closer in a chat with THR, including why she decided to introduce the particular Sex and the City character, what's next for Carrie as she tackles the Big Apple and the decision to have Dorrit lose her virginity.
The Hollywood Reporter: The finale was a very big episode for Maggie, with Sebastian breaking the news that Walt is gay and her subsequent confrontation in the diner. How did you want to craft that particular moment?
Amy B. Harris: It's 1984, and that alone would have been titillating and shocking to know someone who was gay and for it to be someone who you've built -- in your mind -- an elaborate lie on your behalf. I have empathy for her but obviously her choice of words, "you disgust me," I believe all those things to be true. I think that would be true for Maggie, that it would make her sick that she had been with somebody who was attracted to men.
THR: By the end, she reverts to her old ways. Do you find Maggie to be a character who's stuck in this unhealthy cycle? Is there hope for her?
Harris: Maggie uses sex as a way to feel closer to someone and feel loved, and if that's what you use sex for then it's a bottomless pit of need that will never be felt. I've always thought is our most tragic character. I don't know how she gets out of the life she's in. Donna (Chloe Bridges) is probably going to stay in Castlebury down the road but she's smart enough to know when her expiration date and keep herself in good shape and find a good man to support her, but I don't know Maggie has that kind of survival instincts.
THR: Maggie and Sebastian also crossed a line when they kissed at the bar, which blew up in Carrie's face. What was the decision behind that new wrinkle?
Harris: My initial idea was while Carrie is getting more invested in her New York life that maybe Sebastian would feel jealous of that life and he would start having a relationship with someone who pays more attention to him. But what I love about what Austin brings to the table and the chemistry between him and AnnaSophia, I didn't think that rang true for this version of the character. But I believe when push comes to shove, Maggie feeling horrible about herself that she picked a guy who didn't even like women and the guy she had an affair with is now engaged, that she would want someone handsome and appealing like Sebastian to want her and be attracted to her goes back to the fact that she confuses love and positive self-esteem with someone wanting to have sex with her. For her to lean in to that kiss was a real thing; she's in a desperate place. Sebastian copes the best he can but he's turned to alcohol and pot to dull the pain, and in that moment, it seemed easier to chase that down than to say no when he thinks he and Carrie are broken up.
THR: Where does this leave Sebastian and Carrie?
Harris: Even the behavior they exhibit without each other is to some degree because of each other. I definitely see a lot more of them [in the future]. They're not over. It's a much more complicated thing but you don't just turn off your feelings for someone, and that's a very hard, sad truth for people. When you're drawn to someone, even if they're not good for you, you feel connected. In a lot of ways, Carrie and Sebastian are very good for each other. To me, they are pinballs in a pinball machine; they are constantly going to be banging up against each other -- and sometimes that hurts.
THR: What stories are you hoping to tell with Carrie and Walt living in Manhattan together?
Harris: I don't think you'll see Maggie there much, but pretty much everybody else feels like there are incredibly logical ways to bring them into the city and I felt like Walt in particular would be someone who would want to start spending a lot of time in the city. That's a world he will want to live in as well as Carrie. I loved the idea of watching them in the city. The goal for the second season is to build out the city for the other characters as well, but in organic ways.
THR: Who would have thought that it would be the younger Bradshaw, Dorrit (Stefania Owen), losing her virginity by the of the season.
Harris: I know! That was something I knew [would happen] from the very beginning. I always knew when I pitched the first season: Carrie will end the first season a virgin and Dorrit will not. [Laughs] Right after we shot the pilot, I knew. Even before we shot the pilot, I knew Carrie would be a virgin. I don't think I thought as hard about where Dorrit would be until after we shot the pilot. We didn't know who or how exactly she would lose it but I loved that the more f---ed up sister at the end of the day is actually a lot less dysfunctional about relationships. I loved her simplicity: "He loves me, I love him." And she didn't overthink it. That's who Dorrit is. [Carrie and Dorrit] are chasing life in very different ways and it felt like a logical conclusion, that Carrie would overthink herself right out of a relationship and Dorrit has enough self-esteem to want it to be with someone who cared about her. She went for it.
THR: Meanwhile, Mouse (Ellen Wong) had a lighter story with her navigating between her family's expectations versus and her own.
Harris: Those funnier, more comedic-driven stories that are also relatable, the idea that your parents have expectations of you, but taken to the extreme. They're funnier stories and they're more heightened. Those are the stories you hear people tell and we took it to the next level.
THR: Walt and Bennett (Jake Robinson) are going to be a key relationship moving forward, should there be a season two following Walt's big declaration. What are you hoping to explore there?
Harris: Yeah. They have a ton of chemistry and I want to explore that. What I love about the Walt taking place in the '80s is that it's not the New York where you can necessarily . You can tell the story of will Walt feel safe and comfortable holding hands with him walking down the street if there's other people around to the bigger story of the landscape of AIDS in the '80s, as a part of being a gay man in Manhattan. I'm excited to really delve into all of that.
THR: You teased that the finale would reference a Sex and the City character, and it was Stanford Blatch. (Willie Garson played the role on the HBO series.) Was there much discussion over who you would introduce?
Harris: I know exactly how I would like to introduce each of the characters into the show and he's not going to be the only one, that's for sure. I wasn't toying mentioning anybody [else]. I know what I want season two to look like and who I think is showing up, but I always thought that Bennett and Stanford were probably roommates and that's how Carrie ends up meeting Stanford. I wanted it to feel organic and not that I was trying to ram somebody's name in there. I felt like that was a simple and fun way to give the audience a head's up that we're going to start meeting some of Carrie's Manhattan peeps. There is more to come.
THR: If Stanford is going to show up in season two, are you nervous about finding the right person?
Harris: Yeah, definitely nervous about everybody. Miracles happen; we want it to be the best person for the part. Having watched AnnaSophia bring this version of her to life, I know it's about an essence. You don't have to look for someone who looks exactly like the person. That's my hope, but yes, of course I'm nervous.
THR: How are you feeling about renewal chances?
Harris: It's the waiting game. The good news is we're No. 2 in streaming and I think in the world of The CW, they know that's the future. Look, they're entire advertising campaign is "CW TV Now." It's like get your TV now on your iPad, on your TV; they know how it's going and they have a young audience and we have an incredibly young key demo audience. I've got my fingers crossed. I'm feeling good!
THR: Now that season one has wrapped up, what are your season two hopes?
Harris: The first season was always about let people fall in love with these characters doing real things, experiencing real, relatable stories and then you can blow up their lives any which way you want because people are invested. [For example,] you don't care about Maggie and Sebastian kissing until you care about Carrie and Sebastian, and you appreciate how much Maggie and Carrie's friendship means. Allowing those things to build and become something was joyous.