Not Worth Carrying On About

When Candace Bushnell published the Carrie Diaries, I bought the book and read it in an effort to get excited about the upcoming movie and get a glimpse into what she imagined her famed character, Carrie Bradshaw, was like as a teenager. Dear Diary, it was a mistake.

Not only did it seem like the book was written over the course of a weekend in an effort to tap into a new, younger audience for the franchise (and to make a couple extra bucks), the writing was bad AND the character didn’t fit in with traits or things we’ve learned about Ms. Bradshaw in the show.

First off — Bushnell used bizarre phrases to describe Carrie’s thoughts and feelings that didn’t make sense. At one point Carrie described a feeling in her stomach like light shining through diamonds when she sees a guy she likes. What does that even mean? Are there sharp pains? Is you stomach hot? Cold? Do you feel like you are glowing? Do you feel heavy? Or maybe just bloated with purple prose?

I know writing for a younger audience can be challenging at times (trust me, I do it every day at a teen news site), but seriously, just use metaphors and analogies that are clear and practical, not weird.

Another odd thing, aside from the fact that the book meanders along as Carrie complains about her crush and wanting to be a writer (but seldom DOES anything inspiring or noteworthy), toward the end of the book teenage Carrie makes Coq au Vin for her friend, sisters and father (her favorite dish to make, supposedly). Well, as any SATC fan knows, in the show, Carrie used her oven for storage, I HIGHLY doubt anyone who makes a dish and likes to cook from the Julia Child cook book would cease to use their kitchen. Those skills don’t curdle in the fridge.

In addition to several annoying moments of, “Would Carrie really be like this?” there was also a naming issue. A woman nicknamed “Bunny” who is not in fact, the mother of Trey MacDougal, the ex-husband of Charlotte in the show — meets Carrie and has an effect on her future. I won’t spoil who she is or how she affects Carrie (in case you do read this against my advice), but it is not related to the matriarch of the same name. Anyway, couldn’t Bushnell think of another name?

I know these things seem like three minor details, but they are just a couple of examples of the larger problem, it was a bad book and there’s not point in wasting time writing about it. If this had not been The Carrie Diaries, but some other YA novel about a teen (which it could have been), people wouldn’t have read it.

The worst part about it was, after reading this young adult novel (and I’ve read my fair share), I felt like chucking it out the window and asking Bushnell if she ever even watched the show that built her career. There was nothing fun, charismatic or interesting about it. I mean, yes, she created the characters, but there’s so much more to them and what the fans know about them from the series. She could have done so much more with it!

Why write such a stupid book? Well, according to one Jezebel writer, who went to a publicity event for the book, it’s probably best to not ask … anything about it. I just don’t get it at all… the grotesque publicity for Sex and the City 2, the back tracking on important themes of love, sex and feminism in the films — the whole thing is just too much.

Why revive a phenomenal franchise and then as Charlotte would say, “wrap it in brown paper and just smear some dog poo on it!?”

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One is Not the Loneliest Number

one little flower
Image by harold.lloyd (won't somebody think of the bokeh?) via Flickr

After watching a few old episodes of Sex and the City and combing through some of my favorite women’s magazines during some recent alone time, I found it interesting how much being alone — and a woman —  is an issue in our culture.

The magazines are all about finding ways to avoid spending time by one’s self and in the show, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are constantly begrudging any solo time.  Even in more recent shows like 30 Rock, Tina Fey‘s character, Liz Lemon, is the butt of lonely, single woman jokes on a weekly basis, while her boss, Jack, spends just as much time alone as a perpetual bachelor and the King of Cool — similar to the role of Mr. Big in Sex and the City.

In other words, things haven’t changed. I’m tired of this notion that women are supposed to always be in groups and pairs. We don’t all have to go to the restroom together! There’s nothing pathetic about being solo while shopping, eating in a restaurant, or at home. Twice in my life I’ve lived alone and honestly, it was nice. I could spend time with people when I wanted, but I could also enjoy having space and time to do whatever.

Now that I’m married, alone time isn’t as common. However, before Thanksgiving my husband went on a trip with his family for three weeks (I couldn’t get the time off from work). This time by myself in our Brooklyn apartment reminded me of living in my cute one bedroom on College Avenue in Berkeley and later, in a Brooklyn Heights studio while I was finishing graduate school.

In both instances I had time to focus on my studies and get some QT with myself.  Reflecting back, I realize that there’s something special about  spending solitary time and balancing your social life with your personal hobbies.  I think it’s healthy and a good way to connect with your goals, interests and anything else that can be pushed aside when you are focusing on friends, family and relationships all the time.

Yes, while my husband was gone I felt lonely at times and had some trouble sleeping at first, but all in all, I found the experience refreshing.  So, next time you are bemoaning some solo time — whether you have a roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, or not — take advantage of the moment and do something for yourself. You’ll thank you.


Four True Things About TV

Tuned to TV Truths

There are four things I know about television that are absolutely true.

1. If you make a reality show about your marriage and allow a TV network into your home, your marriage will not survive. This is not a slight to any of the couples, or their relationships, this is simply common sense. If you let millions of people see what your life is like, through the eyes of what the network wants people to see, your marriage will inevitably fail. Plus, there’s the whole intimacy thing. How can you be truly intimate and honest about who you are as a couple without privacy? Not gonna work.

It doesn’t even matter what your circumstances are — newly wed? Sorry didn’t work for Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. Long-standing couple? Sorry, really didn’t work for the Hogans. Bound by eight bundles of joy? Sorry, even 160 perfect fingers, toes and shared DNA can’t hold those parents together.

2. If there is a new, stunning breakthrough about to hit the medical world, it’s no surprise to Grey’s Anatomy fans. Here are just a few of the “reruns” we’ve seen in real life that appeared on an episode of Grey’s before any doctors scubbed in. In season five of Grey’s Anatomy a plant-loving guy receives a fully successful face transplant from plastic surgeon Dr. Sloane. And, in a real hospital, after 30 surgeries including a 22-hour session with real life hero Dr. Maria Siemionow and a team of doctors, Connie Culp received a face transplant after nearly dying from a highly disfiguring gunshot wound.

Never thought a woman could get pregnant by two different men? How about having a double uterus? Count it – happened in season three and in real life this spring (though the woman in Michigan conceived her babies with her husband only). Speaking of being preg-o, what about the episode in season two where that guy thought he was with child? I read about phantom pregnancies by men and even a live pregnancy by a transgendered man in the news twice this year. Double bubble baby — check. Man with fetus — check.

I think I also heard about a kid who swallowed magnets posing a threat to his digestive system, which also happened in an episode from season four.

3. The best TV writers will make the best big screen blockbusters. Case in point, J.J. Abrams.

4. Highly skilled acting and creative writing for premium network shows will always be artistically superior to regular network series. The one exception to this truth, artistically speaking, is Mad Men. I don’t know if it’s because premium networks like HBO and Showtime can afford better writers, have bigger budgets or simply appeal to better actors, but for whatever reason, those shows are crafted very well. They are some of the most amazing and thought-provoking programs I’ve ever seen. (Counter cable examples are totally welcome.)

Let’s start with some oldies, but goodies Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Curb Your Enthusiasm. And now we have: Big Love, Weeds, In Treatment, Flight of the Conchords, United States of Tara and Nurse Jackie. Each of these shows has a unique and interesting execution combined with superb acting you can’t always find on prime time cable.

Now, I’m not an HBO or Showtime snob, I truly love all of my ABC and NBC shows (clearly from number two above), but the writing, camera work, costumes, sets, acting and general arc of these narratives are consistently better in these shows than, say, the wannabes other networks made to recreate their success (Lipstick Jungle, anyone?)