The CW’s ‘Carrie Diaries’ Struggling In The Ratings: Why Aren’t Viewers Tuning In?
By Carson Blackwelder
Since its Jan. 14 debut, The Carrie Diaries has struggled in the ratings, bowing to 1.6 million viewers and not topping it since. The teen drama peaked at a 0.7 rating in the key demo with the Feb. 4 episode, compared to the 0.6 rating from the premiere.
These small victories are miniscule for the bigger broadcast networks, but for The CW, they’re enough to have the series considered a “toss up” for renewal after just two episodes.
The Carrie Diaries seemed to have a lot of steam behind it when it premiered, especially since the Sex and the City (HBO) prequel was riding the coattails of its predecessor as well as the popular Gossip Girl, which ended Dec. 17. The theory was that The Carrie Diaries would capitalize on Gossip Girl’s audience and attract loyal fans of the original series — giving it the ability to bridge generations.
Following The Carrie Diaries less-than-stellar premiere, The CW quickly stated that its Monday dramas are usually the most DVR’ed shows on its lineup (Gossip Girl usually averaged a 58 percent spike in women 18-34 when factoring in DVR figures).
Another pitfall for the new series is its stiff competition on Monday nights, as it goes up against some wildly successful and established series. Monday night at 8 p.m. is the home of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, ABC’s The Bachelor, NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Fox’s Bones. In particular, The Bachelor ’s dedicated female fanbase probably isn’t helping The Carrie Diaries get a running start.
Back in December, I listed The Carrie Diaries as the most promising new midseason TV series to look out for. After a lackluster fall season (save for ABC’s Nashville — bless you, Connie Britton), it seemed as though it would be a teen drama that could possibly join the ranks of the best.
This judgment, and the decision to list Fox’s thriller The Following as a close second, was based on their pilots, and I stick by my rankings.
The subsequent episodes of The Carrie Diaries haven’t necessarily disappointed, but they’re evident of a series attempting to hone in on a certain feel, searching for the right balance of new and old and developing a program that could have a nice run — if given the time to find itself.
Perhaps the sheer notion that The Carrie Diaries was meant to bridge generations is the problem.
Sure, the fashion angle is likely to keep viewers coming back for more, but maybe it’s the nostalgia aspect that keeps viewers at arm’s length.
The Carrie Diaries is set in 1980s New England, making it decades out of reach from The CW’s usual audience of teenagers. Sure, Carrie’s (AnnaSophia Robb) dressing room is über chic, but the ’80s kick may not be meshing with the young crowd. Simply put, there could just be too much of a disconnect and not enough of John Hughes’ timeless magic to compensate.
However, Robb has effortlessly slipped into Sarah Jessica Parker’s tough-to-fill stilettos, and if she continues to do, hopefully viewers will catch on and consistently support the series.
Unlike The Carrie Diaries, another of The CW’s rookie series is doing rather well in the ratings: Arrow, starring Stephen Amell as the green vigilante, has already been renewed for a second season — alongside established scripted series Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries.
“We said last year that one of our goals was to establish building blocks to grow on, and … we’ve been able to do that,” said The CW president Mark Pedowitz. “Not only do [these shows] perform well on-air, they’re also extremely successful for us both digitally and socially. I’m thrilled to have all three returning to our schedule next season.”
Arrow, which reassures audiences that The CW is holding on to a bit of The WB (which this writer held so dear), premiered to 4.14 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the key demo and has gone on to effortlessly average 3.39 million viewers — making it a stunning success for The CW.
Given that Arrow, the top-rated CW series among young males, is a part of a traditionally male-dominated genre, its success on The CW shows that the network is continuing to successfully tap into the male demographic established by Smallville and Supernatural — even though most of the net’s other series attempt to draw female viewers.
Arrow has not only brought in good ratings for itself, but it’s also increased the viewership of the paranormal drama Supernatural, which airs after Arrow, by bringing in 15 percent more viewers compared to last year.
There is still hope out there for The Carrie Diaries, especially since it features promising acting and fills a void in The CW’s teen girl coverage. At the same time, the show’s struggles could be a sign that it’s time for The CW to shift its focus toward grittier subjects — maybe Carrie could fight crime when she’s not shopping for shoes?
Tags: ABC, AnnaSophia Robb, Arrow, Bones, CBS, Connie Britton, Fox, Gossip Girl, HBO, How I Met Your Mother, John Hughes, Mark Pedowitz, Nashville, NBC, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City, Smallville, Stephen Amell, Supernatural, The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, The Carrie Diaries, The CW, The Following, The Vampire Diaries, THe WB