When we first meet Larissa (Freema Agyeman) in The Carrie Diaries, she is a fast-talking, free-spirited, independent young woman who knows how to make things happen for herself and make them work in Manhattan. To Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb), she has a glamorous life, filled with fabulous people and experiences, but series executive producer Amy B. Harris admitted that Larissa may be something of a “cautionary tale.” Sure, she is the kind of tough chick Carrie needs to learn to be to survive in a big city environment, but she doesn’t always make the best decisions. We saw that in the pilot when she shoplifted from Century 21 (it’s a discount store, for crying out-loud!), and soon we will dive further into her wild child, party girl side.
But, as Agyeman pointed out, no person nor thing can be completely black or white, and it is exactly these multi-layers to Larissa that makes her an intriguing, well-rounded character to play. And one that Carrie– and the audience– won’t be able to take eyes off of.
“She’s somebody who’s seeking enjoyment in life in whatever form that takes. Initially, I think we do see the naughty side of her in the pilot, and then we’ll see her in other aspects. We won’t see her shoplifting again; we do see her encouraging Carrie to make it, as she said in the [last] episode, encouraging her to be the kind of person she wants to be, and then she can do anything,” Agyeman said of her character.
“We certainly see her in the context of party scenes. She does have a party clique that she moves around with and a group of friends, but by the same token, she is in the fashion world…so we do see people from her work life. And then, she’s also really big into the art scene, and that’s one of the things that we get to explore as well with Larissa. She’s not just a party girl; she’s really into the contemporary art movement in New York, and she’s kind of taking Carrie along on all of those journeys.”
Early on (in the third episode), Larissa takes Carrie and her friends to a performance art exhibit that raises the question about “where does porn stop and art begin, and vice versa.” In the following episode, Carrie ends up having to take care of Larissa when she does too many drugs at a party.
“It’s an interesting commentary on the backdrop of seeing Carrie and her high school, teenage friends, in some way, that we see Larissa as kind of a perpetual childhood who does need looking after in some ways. She isn’t really only what we see on the outside,” Agyeman said.
“We’re kind of raising questions about…things that might be quite shocking to Carrie and might be quite shocking to the audience.”
As episodes go on from there, Agyeman shared we will start to understand a little more of what makes Larissa “tick.” According to the actor, she felt that perhaps Larissa was once like Carrie when she stepped foot in the city, and she “taught herself to be something else” to embrace the freedom. Whether or not she sees a lot of herself in Carrie, though, Agyeman shared that the bond between the women will be mutual– and therefore Carrie may influence or help Larissa as much as Larissa influences and helps her.
“As time goes on, we see that she is enamored with Carrie,” Agyeman said.
“Carrie does look after her, and Carrie is intelligent, funny, smart, talented woman, so there’s definitely a mutual appreciation going on. In some ways, I think Larissa has maternal instincts towards her, but then on the other hand she’s so off the wall at times, their relationship, the dynamic does change a little bit…They do adore each other, but it becomes a bit of the ‘who’s the adult, who’s the child?’”
This very notion of age versus maturity will come into play in the middle of the season when the truth about Carrie comes out. Up until then, Agyeman noted, “the very fact that Carrie’s there, working in the city is enough for Larissa to think that she belongs there.” Though hindsight (and some funny lines about “good dermatology”) will show Larissa did kind of wonder how old Carrie really was, Larissa isn’t the kind of person who over-thinks or worries about such things.
“She’s very instinctive and ‘go with the flow’ and ‘go where the fun is’,” Agyeman said.
“But it’s not just about popular culture and where to get a good cosmopolitan; it’s got to be about how you function in the big city as well.”
The Carrie Diaries airs on The CW on Monday nights at 8 p.m.
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