Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop the Presses!

The Adventures of Carrie Bradshaw, Fashionista Teen, will be hitting bookshelves in 2010.

I do not approve.

I am a purist. These teenage prequels are watering down the brand. “Carrie in high school did not follow the crowd — she led it,” Bushnell explained. While Carrie is a trendy character, I doubt she would be Miss Popular—and honestly, it never once occurred to me she would be. There has never been any evidence in the show that she was that kind of girl, even the few that discussed high school (“Boy, Interrupted”, “Hot Child in the City”). She had her friends, she dated, she liked fashion and most likely already wanted to go to New York, maybe even write.

Executive Producer Michael Patrick King once said that all four ladies are supposed to represent different facets of a woman; they are each archetypes, and together they make up one woman. Carrie is hardly an everywoman, especially with her affinity for high-class fashion and shoes, but she stands for certain kinds of women; none of them scream to me catty, seductive, or Type A; that’s Samantha.

The prequels also raise an important issue: Carrie has to have a family, a background that was previously nonexistent on the television show (and, presumably, the book. I never finished it.). The prequels demand a whole new cast of characters. After all, sometime in her twenties Carrie moved to New York (she was already in the city when she was 22, mentioned in “Coulda Woulda Shoulda”), and it was while in New York that she met Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. Her high school boyfriend Jeremy (played by David Duchovny) could make an appearance, and theoretically some of her other “friends” that had a one-episode arc could have been her friends back then, but it has always appeared that she made her own life in New York, one that has no connection to her past.

That was a deliberate choice. Michael Patrick King has said in one of the show’s commentary that he never wanted to show any of the main characters’ family. The exceptions were in “My Motherboard, My Self” when Miranda’s mother dies, and in “Shortcomings”, but he regretted the latter case. Even when Charlotte gets married we do not see or hear her family. He’s done this because he wanted to focus all of the energy on the foursome, and the idea that you can create your own family. He did not want to go into their pasts, for the story was not about their previous relationships outside of the show’s time frame; the few that were mentioned, like this exchange in “A Vogue Idea":

Carrie: Hey, you think it could really be as simple as my father walked out, therefore I'll always be messed up about men?

Miranda: My father came home every night at seven on the dot and I have no clue about men either.

were meant to illuminate the characters’ present conditions, not to flashback to an earlier era.

Of course, Michael Patrick King is not Candace Bushnell, and while their versions of Carrie Bradshaw may overlap tremendously, they probably each have a certain conception of the character in mind. Who really owns the character? Sarah Jessica Parker embodies Carrie and Bushnell created her, but Michael Patrick King (and Darren Star, and to a lesser extent, all the other writers and producers) brought her to life. They created her stories, formed her life, her personality from the template that Bushnell set up in Sex and the City the book, which is very, very different from the series. Arguably, King owns the screen version, and Bushnell the book version. Each, I suspect, wants to stay true to their own idea of the character.

As much as I don’t like the idea of a prequel for all these reasons, I have to separate the show from the story, Michael Patrick King’s vision from Candace Bushnell’s. They are part of the same universe, but they are not the same.


John said...

Let me get this straight: SatC is getting an "expanded universe" of novels like Star Wars has? It is to laugh.

It's a sad fact of this day and age that most Intellectual Property (like your favorite fictional characters, whoever they may be) are looked at by their owners as brands to exploit rather than works of art in and of themselves. Many landmark successes of storytelling originally created by one team have gone on to spawn an insulting number of retreads and spin-offs that dilute the original's greatness. Yet, when Alan Moore responded when asked if he thought film adaptations were destroying his comics (V for Vendetta, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen) he simply directed the interviewer to his bookshelf and said, "Destroyed? No! See, they're right here where they've always been!" Therein lies the lesson. The owners of IPs may flood the market with third-rate sequels, prequels, midquels and spin-offs, but the originals will last forever (in every case but Star Wars, which has been molested by its creator in his perverse desire to wrong his past rights. Which reminds me, I have to transfer my original Han-shot-first VHS tapes to DVD before George Lucas sneaks into my house and destroys them.)

petpluto said...

"Which reminds me, I have to transfer my original Han-shot-first VHS tapes to DVD before George Lucas sneaks into my house and destroys them."

I want copies of that. And also, of the original Anakin Skywalker standing by the fire in Return of the Jedi. I friggin' hate Hayden Christensen being there.

Emily said...

I will not be reading these.

LG said...

Miley Cyrus to possibly star in a screen version!