'The Carrie Diaries' '80s decoder: Nutcrackers

Sarah D. Bunting
"Caught" -- Matt Letscher as Tom and Stefania Owen as Dorrit
"Caught" -- Matt Letscher as Tom and Stefania Owen as Dorrit

It's time for the winter dance, and you know what that means: nothing good. Why do high-school kids on TV shows even go to dances anymore? Don't they watch TV? Don't they know it's going to go pear-shaped?

Carrie is bringing George, mostly to make Sebastian jealous, which "works" -- in the sense that he IS jealous, but Carrie fights with him about it, makes sure to drag George out to his limo for a make-out sesh, and has to explain to him that she doesn't want to lose her virginity in the back of a limo. He totally understands, he says, and nods at his lap. "So maybe you just take care of me." Carrie's like, ew, and dumps him.

Donna isn't unaware that Sebastian still has eyes for Carrie, either, so when she catches Maggie and Deputy Sleazoid smooching, she lays it down: Keep your little friend away from Sebastian or I'll tell Walt (who's home with the chicken pox) (read: Googling gay p-- wait, scratch that, the internet doesn't exist yet) you're messing around with Johnny Law.

[Related: 'Body of Proof' tries to reverse the retooling curse]

Maggie has the sense to confess this to Carrie, and gets some Goofus-from-"Highlights" advice in return about telling Walt herself. Elsewhere in the hallways, Mouse is spending the dance with Seth…completing an extra-credit assignment to override the dreaded B-plus she got. (The teacher is a former instructional-video co-star of ours. Watch below; your correspondent has the headset on; the teacher's in the foreground.) Seth is supportive of this monomania, but Mouse dumps him anyway, because they need to focus on what they want. We don't buy it.

And Dad has his weekly "I don't know what the girls want/like because their mother did everything" flail, this time taking Dorrit to "Nutcracker." She's a little storm cloud until the lights go down, and then she's enchanted. We love her, and we enjoyed seeing her teeth for the first time. She admits to Dad that Carrie had him, and Dorrit had Mom, and now she has no one, but at the end, they hug, and it's all happy land until next week when Dad forgets one of their damn names or something.

Oh, and Larissa absurdly offers Carrie a job at "Interview" based on a presumptuous copy suggestion of Carrie's Larissa deems "brazilliant." Love the word, think the plot twist is dumb, but Carrie takes the job in spite of Dad's guilt trip about how hard it was to get her the law-firm internship, because this week's theme is all about being who you are or something.

"Sex and the City" references

Larissa tells Carrie, "Maybe writing is your calling."

George informs Carrie that her virginity "is just something you get out of the way so you can start having fun," but also that he likes that she's a romantic.

Totally Awesome '80s

Sebastian catches Carrie when she trips on the stairs, and she burbles, "Guess I'm no Mary Lou Retton." She uses the same phrasing to Larissa when she modestly says she's "no Judy Blume" in the writing department; later, as she debates whether to take the "Interview" job, Maggie thinks that "you are this close to meeting Ralph Macchio" should seal the deal.

Carrie licks a stamp to put it on an envelope (we didn't see the postage).

The Yoko Ono cover of "Interview" Larissa shows Carrie is indeed from January 1985. (Yes, we checked.) That issue likely would have gone out before December 1984, but it's close enough.

A panicked Mouse, late with her assignment: "What time is it?" Seth: "What does your Swatch say?" Now, if someone shows up wearing a Swatch guard, we'll be really impressed.

Donna's hair is crimped at the dance. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal today; back then, most of us who wanted that permed look had to braid our hair and sleep on it. We also went to school in covered wagons. (Not really.)

Carrie's dance attire is classic Gunne Sax, advertised to death in "Seventeen" et al.


Super-minor, and we liked the pay-phone-in-the-hallway detail…and it's not that you couldn't use a quarter to pay for a call in 1984. But they only cost 15-20 cents back then. (And you also had the "cents" symbol on your keyboard, above the six key. And we are old. And nerds.)

What Twitter thought:

And here's all the tune-age from "Caught":

  • The Three O'Clock, "In Love Too"

  • Transfixion, "The Height of Her Heels"

Watch a producer's commentary on last night's ep right here: