Sex and the City: Year One

When George Lucas announced he was writing prequels to Star Wars, there was not a guy in the Galaxy whose pulse didn’t quicken a little bit. Today, the ladies get their own dream project to drool over (and maybe their own future huge letdown).

Candace Bushnell has announced she’s writing a series of young adult novels about Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years. It will be called “The Carrie Diaries,” but only because “Hey Gossip Girl, Hands Off My Money” was too long.

I won’t weigh in on whether the Sex and the City brand should be marketed to 14-year-olds. Compared to other young adult fiction, the books will probably be relatively mild. What I will do is figure out what we can expect.

1. THERE WILL BE LEG WARMERS: Carrie was born in 1966. That puts her high school years in the early 80s.

2. DON’T EXPECT LIL’ MIRANDA, CHARLOTTE, OR SAMANTHA TO SHOW UP: The series was always vague about when they all met, but it seems pretty clear it was post-college. For one thing, only Samantha knew about Carrie’s abortion when she was 22. That pretty strongly suggests her friendships with Miranda and Charlotte date from later. And Samantha wouldn’t have been friends with Carrie back in high school – the age difference is too great.

3. NEW YORK WILL STILL BE THE CITY IN WHICH SEX IS HAD: According to Wikipedia, Carrie moved to New York when she was about 17 years old. This could work well for the books. Maybe she started at a new school at the beginning of her junior year. She’s got to make the young adult equivalent of the hero’s journey (new girl to queen bee).

4. CARRIE’S FAMILY: We know shockingly little about this. Her dad left her family when she was five… but that doesn’t mean he won’t play some role in the books. The show never mentioned any siblings, which is not to say they don’t exist. Presumably her mom will be a big part of these prequels, but once again, she’s never really mentioned in the series. Personally, I’m hoping that Carrie’s mom is a lot like the other Carrie’s mom.

5. A SCENE TO LOOK FORWARD TO:

Charlotte: How old were you?
Carrie: Eleventh grade. Seth Bateman. His smelly rec room. Half a joint, three thrusts, finito.
Charlotte: Eew!
Carrie: And P.S.—it was on the ping pong table.

So basically, the introduction of Seth Bateman in these books will be like Anakin Skywalker showing up in Episode I. We’ll know the horrors the future holds, but our hero won’t.

6. THE EX-FILES: In one Season 6 episode, Carrie reconnects with a high school boyfriend, played by David Duchovny (now do you understand the clever title for this item?). Even though he’s in a mental institution, she feels a real connection, and even admits: “You know what the craziest thing is? I actually thought after everything I’ve been through, I might end up with my high school boyfriend.” She also says they never had sex in high school, so when he inevitably shows up in The Carrie Diaries, don’t expect a happy ending.

So what did I miss/screw up? Are there any other clues in the series as to what the teenaged Carrie Bradshaw was like?

18 Comments on “Sex and the City: Year One”

  1. Rebecca #

    Well, you messed up the part where, since I have a vagina, I just *love* Sex in the City. Not to be too hard on you, it’s just that I expect better from Overthinking It. I’m a chick and I hate that show. I resent everything it tries to sell me, from insufficient self-image to $1,000 shoes. I know that my view isn’t exactly common, but isn’t this place supposed to be about nuanced commentary on pop culture? Or at least not using cheap gender stereotypes?

    If I’m wrong I will contritely take my humble pie and go eat in the corner while reading comics, wearing pants, and ordering my husband into the kitchen to get me a beer.

     
  2. Matthew Belinkie #

    And I also stereotyped in saying that men love Star Wars.

    Look, I respect and share your criticisms of the show (although I’m personally a fan), but I’m not sure this post is guilty of sexism because I said that SITC is popular with women.

     
  3. Rebecca #

    Fair point. I’m sorry I overreacted.

     
  4. Gab #

    Well I just don’t see how the series could be all that fun. The whole point of the original series was (supposedly) that she was looking for Mr. Right while living in New York as a successful woman, etc. Well, that means any and all romances in high school didn’t work out. Given Carrie’s histrionics during the series and the stupid mistakes she made that led to her losing a couple guys she probably could have gone all the way (in the deeper sense) with, I find it hard to believe that any of her relationships when she was younger ended much better. It will be nothing but empty high school angst and drama. But, given how those awful Stephanie Meyer books have done so well, I guess the average teenager doesn’t care about quality any more. (And yes, I read all but the most recent in order to see if the negative stuff was true, and it indeed was. Those books are tragically bad in every way possible.)

    Prequels like this always bother me, since yeah, they’re clearly just about harping on a franchise. We already know what happens or how things will have to turn out, so there can be no real surprises: in this case, after years of acting like an idiot and dozens upon dozens of breakups, she marries the man that was sometimes the reason her other relationships didn’t work out. [I’m also thinking of Clone Wars: so what, do all of those new characters end up dying? (I haven’t seen it and refuse to spend my money on it, so correct me if I’m wrong, please.)] Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes do like prequels, especially well-done origin stories (I really hope “Wolverine” doesn’t disappoint) (and wouldn’t a good one about Magneto be uh-may-zing?); but the premise of SATC doesn’t really leave room for a prequel in my book. Unless they turn it into the origins of why she was so bad at relationships (meaning oh em gee, high school effed me up! and some really scary shit goes down that would give her some sort of terrible, Freudian complex), which would be even more frustrating than the original (since they’d be teenagers), I just don’t see any merit in it.

    Oh, and however anti-SATC that sounded, I actually really liked it. It was funny and sometimes sad, and there were ways in which I was able to relate to every character. I liked the supporting cast more than Carrie, but I liked them enough and didn’t DIS-like her enough to not like the show.

    But one thing to keep in mind about the series that while the original concept came from a woman, Candace, the show was written and produced by a bunch of gay men. The women in that show do a lot of things women don’t do (I honestly have never met a woman that walks around her place of residence in only her underroos, let alone *men’s briefs*), and sometimes their perspective really seems like that of a flamboyant gay male instead of the steady, sturdy, successful woman that is supposed to be onscreen. And I’m not gay-bashing, I’m just saying that a man, even if he is gay, can’t always hit the nail right on the head when attempting to portray a woman; and (before I get flamed even more) I’ll admit that a woman, even if she’s a lesbian, wouldn’t be able to portray a man realistically every single time, either.

     
  5. fenzel #

    The reason it could be fun is one of the tenets they have taught me time and time again in improv classes:

    “Live in the problem.”

    Comedy isn’t about solving the problem (and Sex and the City is, above all else, a comedy). It’s about showing people reacting to circumstances and each other in a way that the audience identifies with (in one crazy way or another).

    The quintessential example is Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory (who did things most women don’t do all the time, but who was hardly dissembling) — Lucy doesn’t just walk away from the conveyor belt. She doesn’t try to turn off the machine. She doesn’t insist on seeing the supervisor. She lives in the problem, she tries to wrap the chocolates, and we watch her try and laugh, because we identify with the quintessential honesty of what she’s trying to do.

    And it doesn’t have to all be angst just because Carrie doesn’t desperately fall in love with her soulmate in high school. I mean, I didn’t desperately fall in love with my soulmate in high school, and, sure, it had its rough times, but there were lots of times that were fun and lighthearted.

    Youth, after all, can be a good tonic for these sorts of things.

     
  6. Gab #

    They’re teenagers. Of COURSE it’s going to be all angst. Hell, the series about ADULTS was pretty angsty.

    Maybe I’m still reeling from reading Meyer’s trash, so I have a predisposition to hate anything called “YA Fiction.” And I was never really fond of the teenage-whoa-is-me stuff available to me when I was the target age, be they books, movies, shows, whatever- I found them annoying and stupid and I always saw the main characters as childish and me-centric. My reaction was always, “Get over yourself and stop being so selfish.” Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon.

    But I do see the point. If it was more about her being a teenager and less about her failed romances as a teenager, it could probably be funny. But then I think it would kind of lose its purpose and status as a prequel in the first place- you could just change the names and call it its own series.

    And I don’t know, call me conservative, but a book series about teenagers having sex would have made me uncomfortable as a teenager and makes me uncomfortable now. I realize teenagers have sex (duuuuh), and it isn’t like I think sex is icky. But all I can think when the notion of a series about a teenager’s love life is, “Please, for the love of Pete, don’t have sex unless you’re on the Pill and he’s got a rubber on!” (And that was my attitude when I was that age, too.) With adults, it’s different- they’re, well, adults. The original series said she never had sex with Duchovney’s character, but there isn’t anything about any other guy she dated in hs- so who’s to say something won’t happpen?

     
  7. casey #

    These books will not be about boys, not really. These will be about friendship and the discover of self – exactly what SATC has always been about. I’m sure they’ll be amusing and a smashing success, but enough is enough. Stop whoring out my beloved SATC!

    And Rebecca, please treat yourself to a couple cosmos and a few hours with a rabbit – it sounds like you could use it.

     
  8. Gab #

    Casey: If it was about friendship, why wasn’t it called “Friends in the City” or something, then? I suppose the friendships and discovery of self were there, but it was THROUGH THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH MEN that these themes were portrayed.

     
  9. casey #

    Well of course Gab. All I’m saying is that if these books are being written for a younger audience, I can see them focusing a lot more on friendship and finding one’s self, less on the guys.

     
  10. fenzel #

    Something’s name isn’t necessarily a good indicator of what that thing is actually _about_. A lot of the time it’s marketing, sometimes it’s a symbol for something else. The word “sex” was a big part of SaTC’s branding, and there was already a show called “Friends.” Sometimes a title isn’t your best clue, and you actually have to watch whatever it is to find out the real heart of the matter.

    For example, _Tremors_ isn’t really about actual earthquakes.

    It’s about giant sand worms that _cause_ earthquakes.

    I hope that clears it up.

     
  11. Gab #

    Fenzel, I watched the entire series. Any themes addressed are, with very few exceptions, presented via their relationships with men- not always directly related to sex, no, but often yes. Even characters that show up for just the one episode they’re in somehow have their identity formed around men and/or sex in some way. Take the episode with Kristen Johnson.

    SPOILERS

    She’s at a party and having the time of her life because she’s still single. Then she falls out of a window because she was so busy having that good, single time, she wasn’t paying attention to where she was going.

    Or the one where they visit the old friend that has had a baby and is pregnant again or something like that. She used to be the wild one and now she’s not and can never again be because she’s married with kids, so when she tries to strip like in the good old days, instead of getting whoops and encouragement, everybody is uncomfortable and looks at her like she’s out of her mind.

    I agree, movie or show titles don’t always say it all, but I really think this one was meant to, or at least meant to say most of it. Like “Friends.” That’s pretty straight-forward, as casey said. Or “The Terminator” or “The Hunt for Red October.” Yeah. Duh.

    Titles can also have multiple meanings, of course. “Home Improvement”: Tim was the host of a home improvement show (for “men,” heh… I really loved “The Man’s Kitchen”- how awesome to have one’s own personal butcher!), but it was clearly a show more about his family relationships and all of the work he was doing on his own metaphorical home to keep it strong and together. So in the case of SATC, mayhap “Sex” and “City” are symbolic of other things, too, in addition to the more literal meanings.

    But this begs the question: will the new teenaged book series have “sex” in its title at all if it really *won’t* have any actual sex? And if so, what’s the point?

     
  12. Gab #

    Let me amend that ending. So the title has no “sex” in it. I’m glad about that. I took the time to read the article in the link, and now I really DO just feel like it’s another harping-on-a-franchise. The life of a teenager with dreams of doing suchandsuch. Why can’t it be through the eyes of *any* teenager? The name “Carrie Bradshaw” makes money, that’s why. Oh well…

    However, if it really is just a commentary on the things she sees and observes, maybe it won’t be as whoa-is-me so much as, “Wow, these people are idiots!” If that’s the case, I’d be able to stand it.

     
  13. Megan #

    “how can it be fun?”

    Um… the assumption that a look at Carrie’s “unsuccessful” high school relationships wouldn’t be fun contains within it the hidden assumption that relationships that don’t end in marriage are “unsuccessful.”

    How many young girls caught up in high school hormones dreaming of Mr. Right (or Mr. Big) could benefit from reading the story of a girl like Carrie, who goes through romantic follies and remains self-confident, who is interested in guys and dating (ie: not some anti-feminist stereotype of a man-hating lesbian) but who does not *define her self-worth* through those guys?

    I know I could have used those books when I was younger.

     
  14. Gab #

    Megan, I agree a book like that would be a good, nay, spectacular thing for girls to read, but I don’t think that’s at all what they’re doing, here- they’re after $$$, not portraying a confident female character. They want to masquerade it as the latter, but really, they aren’t fooling anybody.

    I’ll admit the books can be “fun” in the sense that they could be quite funny, but I think by “fun” before, I really meant “satisfying.”

    But I think you’re kind of missing my point about how the series was about Carrie’s search for Mr. Right, meaning A HUSBAND: that’s how CARRIE and thus the series defined a successful relationship. As such, I really don’t think a pre-TV book *could* fit the parameters you have. Any book about a young Carrie would need to set the series up, so she would thus need to finish hs and college feeling unsatisfied herself, therefore leaving the audience that way, too. In order for your premise to work, it would need to NOT be about Carrie so that the CHARACTER would have the freedom to feel satisfied even if she didn’t marry the guy. And I’ve read books and seen movies like that and enjoyed them, found them *quite* satisfying- but they were their own entities, meaning the characters weren’t already pre-determined.

    So as for Carrie herself, I think out of all of the main women in that show, she was the LEAST self-confident and defined herself more than the others by her relationships with men. Not to say that was ALL she put into her identity, but keep in mind she made her living writing a column about her search for Mr. Right. So again, since that is how we see her as an adult, it wouldn’t fit for her to be MORE confident as a teenager- unless something totally scarring (that for some reason never was brought up in the show… hm…) happens, in which case the books would *still* be unsatisfying, because then we’d see her character move backward over a tragic event.

     
  15. Megan #

    I didn’t mean to imply that Carrie is a feminist bonanza. But I still think that she would be MORE of a realistic role model to young girls then the heroines of many a teen romance novel.

    I don’t know if I entirely agree that the show was about Carrie finding a husband. After all, she rejected marriage to Ethan and a partnership with the Russian guy whose name I can’t remember. It was about a woman seeking romance, sure, but she most certainly didn’t define success in her life by whether or not she had a ring. (She wanted one, yes, but a big focus of the show was Carrie finding fulfillment in her friends and career, etc.)

    As to Carrie’s understanding of a successful relationship, it may be true that she drank the patriarchal kool-aid as an adult. But do we really think that she would define HIGH SCHOOL relationships as unsuccessful if they didn’t end in marriage? She seems more realistic than THAT, surely?

    Finally, Charlotte is WAY less self-confident and WAY more defined by relationships with men than Carrie IMHO.

    But other than that, I agree with the rest of your point.

     
  16. Gab #

    In Re Charlotte: You know, I find her kind of ambiguous. I couldn’t tell if she wanted a FAMILY more than a man OR a child. I mean, it seemed to me more of her motivation for marrying Trey was to have babies than just to be with him, and she got those dogs as supplement when she couldn’t… But then she married Harry and the adoption stuff seemed like a secondary thing to her relationship with him…

     
  17. kookimebux #

    Hello. And Bye. :)