Now that Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries, has been picked up as a pilot, we’ll get to watch high-school-age Carrie (played by AnnaSophia Robb) as she navigates her proto–Mr. Big relationship and formulates her very first rhetorical questions. (“Where did this voice-over come from?”)
Carrie’s new chapter got us thinking about other television shows that could benefit from a little retroactive character development. How did Friends’ Monica lose all that weight? What did Liz Lemon and Jenna Maroney get up to in Chicago in the years before The Girlie Show? And can we meet Leslie Knope's childhood nemesis, please? Here are our top picks for prequels we would look forward to looking back at.
Less to Love: How Losing 100 Pounds Helped Me Find Myself—The Monica Geller Story
We all know that Friends’ Monica Geller wasn’t always so skinny. After all, while spending a summer at fat camp, she did try to burrow under the fence and eat a squirrel. This Lifetime network movie-of-the-week charts the character’s heartrending journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, following eighteen-year-old Monica as she attempts to lose 100 pounds and change her life. After she hears Chandler refer to her as Ross’s “fat sister,” she embarks on a quest to slim down, employing fad diets, strange exercise contraptions, and even entering herself in a dance marathon. Accompanied by her best friend Rachel Green (pre–nose job), Monica learns that while the most important lesson of all is accepting yourself as you are, not being obese is definitely number two.
No Sex in the Windy City
30 Rock’s Liz Lemon and Jenna Maroney are best gal pals, fresh out of college (Jenna graduated from the Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks) and living the life of struggling actresses in Chicago. While beautiful Jenna tries to parlay her child-star and pageant-queen success into adult fame (by starring in low-budget films such as Hushed Rapings), awkward Liz only manages to book gigs for phone-sex telephone lines and German-language audiobook recordings. Will these two different-as-can-be gals “make it” and realize their dreams? Will they ever manage to relocate to New York? Only one thing’s for sure—these two struggling young female characters live in a palatial apartment that, in real life, they could never afford in a million years.
Gilmore Girls: 16 and Pregnant
The CW (relaunched with the tagline “You do realize your teenage years are over, don’t you?”) turns our favorite hyperverbal mother-daughter bonding fantasy inside out. A potent fusion of Lauren Graham pixie dust and speed sends us back to Lorelai Gilmore’s Chanel-No.5-and-guilt-scented childhood, allowing us to witness the events that precipitated her pregnancy at 16 and subsequent flight from life as Emily and Richard’s
WASP Barbie daughter. Finally we get to watch Lorelai and Christopher, our star-crossed lovers in prep-school plaid, as they ditch cotillion, gin up, and carry a running commentary on the charity ball and servant-shaming schedules of their parents. When Lorelai gets pregnant and ruins the elaborate deb party her mother has planned, we get the full dish of dinner-table sparring (Emily: “I just don’t understand you, Lorelai. Gilmore ovaries are never out of sync with the social calendar.”) Once Lorelai abandons the Hartford manse and finds work as a maid, we’ll get to know toddler Rory, who it turns out was born with an OED thesaurus implant and Woody Allen’s full complement of cultural references. The show creators will find some pretext for writing in a part for toddler Paris, who in her first scene will overturn a glass of soy milk onto Rory’s copy of Gravity’s Rainbow.
Profiles in Courage: Leslie Knope Edition
Long before she grew up to become deputy director of the Pawnee, Indiana, parks department, future president of the United States of America Leslie Knope was a Girl Scout with a meteoric rise to plan. On a summer camping trip she meets a young upstart from the well-to-do neighboring town of Eagleton, whom she can't stand. Contested Girl Scout badges, bra freezing, and class warfare ensue—until the rival admits a grudging admiration for Leslie and endorses her for president.
How I Met Your Father
For about five seconds we thought a How I Met Your Mother prequel would help us unpack the mysterious psychosis of the show’s most irritating character, weird NPR-listener caricature Ted. But then we realized that would be a horrible show, and we would almost (almost!) feel sorry for Bob Saget, who nonetheless will be forced to narrate all of Ted’s whiny voice-overs as punishment for inflicting the Olsen twins on America. Instead, the show should follow the ever-elusive mother, whose scenes take place whenever the HIMYM gang’s heads are turned the other way. But when Barney spots Ted’s future wife and tries to bed her, the show gets caught in an endless loop of flashbacks in which the constant rotation of bros before hos gains speed and bursts the (fine Italian-threaded) seams of the universe, leaving nothing but drops of top-shelf Scotch and a looped chorus of “Let’s Go to the Mall.”
Fox and Friends
Fox Mulder is known for his beliefs in aliens, government conspiracies, the supernatural, and all manner of unsolved spooky phenomena. Fox and Friends travels back in time to follow teenage Mulder and his maladjusted nerdy friends, who investigate conspiracy theories surrounding the high school cafeteria’s lunchmeat, what their algebra teacher really keeps in the bottle in her desk drawer, and whether the mysterious illness afflicting students is actually mono—or perhaps something more sinister. This teen X-Files meets Lone Gunmen meets Freaks and Geeks follows Mulder’s gang as they seek the truth about their small town, all while trying to avoid locker stuffings and swirlies from the school’s jocks.