A Reader’s Gripe With Carrie Bradshaw

Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. Her days are books, books, books; she knows how lucky that makes her.  Twitter: @mschingler

I have a love/hate relationship with Carrie Bradshaw. She taught me to love fashion!—but that led to a bit of credit card debt. She was unapologetically herself, and that helped me to be the same!—but I’m pretty jealous of her shoes.

But far and away, I get most ambivalent around that columnist-cum-fashion-icon character when it comes to her relationships to reading and writing.

“I’m a writer,” declares Carrie with indignation and horror when a fashion designer asks her to don jeweled underwear in a charity fashion show. “I’m a writer, you’re a writer,” declares Carrie when Carrie Fisher finds her in a compromising position. Alright, already, Carrie, we get it! It’s just that your lifestyle is more fashionista than Faulkner, you know?

If you detect a hint of jealousy: yeah, that’s there. I write in pajamas, not elaborate faux-fur arrangements, and I have no room full of Manolos. But perhaps there are also fair reader-beefs to take up with the woman who made heels seem like a good idea again:

  1. She has a weird attitude toward books. Carrie has bookshelves aplenty, but they’re laden with Vogue; you rarely see a title that’s not a monthly release. Carrie talks about books like they’re a matter of armor, rather than pleasure; to dine out with a book, in Carrie-land, means that you’re hiding behind pages, not leaping into them. Carrie’s friend Samantha goes so far as to try to rebrand books with Carrie skeptically asks of turning her columns into one, “is this a good idea?” That’s right:
  2. She is reticent to take a book deal that falls in her lap. Agh! A small press approaches Carrie (whilst she’s worried about losing her columnist gig) to ask to turn her columns into a book. It’s literally not even her idea. All she has to do is write an intro, and she’s on her way to:
  3. Her fabulous book release party, where books are again rebranded (“You can quote me on that. ‘Books are back, -Isaac Mizrahi.'”), where the cocktails flow freely, where tiny cakes and opulent fashion abounds, and after which “an advance from France!” comes. Literally, all she did was add an intro to her columns. That’s some return on minimal (new) work.
  4. She spends a shockingly limited amount of time writing. Her responsibility to the New York Star is a column a week. One. Column. She is often late with it. Sometimes she writes about things that aren’t even sexy—like the perfect french fry. Her puns are often stupid. And all of that amounts to: a huge apartment near Barney’s and a room full of designer clothes.
  • She gets a glowing book review from Michiko Kakutani–that she complains about. Did I mention that she literally just added an intro to a collection of her columns? Hard stink eye.
  • She NEVER observes the readers’ cardinal rule of bag-buying: a purse is not a purse worth purchasing if it can’t hold a book.
  • She doesn’t unleash on Big when he acts like the public library is a relic. Those are fighting words, dude.
  • She spends insane amounts of money on stuff, but only enters bookstores when it’s about her. Carrie shops like a maniac—but not like other readers and writers I know. She dips into a bookstore in Paris—to check out her own book in French. She wanders through a big box bookstore—to check out book covers, in preparation for her own. I can recall Carrie making one bookstore purchase in the course of the show: French language tapes for her trip abroad.
  • She has to be told not to transfer her friends’ admissions to her column. Dude. Not knowing that sharing isn’t always cool is what gives other writers a bad rep.
  • She…okay, I’m lying. I love her. Ugh, the jig is up! Sex and the City isn’t an exercise in realism; it’s fun and scandalous and semi-sex positive, and was unlike any woman’s ensemble that a network had tried before. Even with its shortcomings, that made it a gift when it debuted (though its lack of diversity and opulence definitely dates and limits it as a vehicle for liberation).

    Writers who’ve done their time in the subsisting-on-beans-and-ramen camp, particularly in New York City, are always going to take issue with Carrie’s absurdly unrealistic lifestyle; it’s an easy nit to pick when you’re moments from deadline and the perfect words still elude you. Still, Sex and the City isn’t something that a writer, or reader, can only like despite its bombastic turns; it’s a something we return to for them, bad puns and all.