Bailey Shea Non-fiction and Multimedia Panel Editor, Arts Liason
As a wannabe writer, the idea of seeing my potential future on TV is comforting. After realizing the entirety of Sex and the City was available on Amazon Prime, I was excited by the opportunity to watch the unedited series. During my first binge of the series, Carrie became my sophisticated cosmopolitan writing role model. Looking toward post-grad life, I could imagine myself dancing the night away in Manhattan’s hottest clubs, sleeping until noon, and writing a weekly column of my own.
Upon my second viewing of the series, however, I realized that Carrie’s life is unrealistic. There’s no way a professional writer could possibly handle Carrie’s party/work balance. It’s hard to believe that she was able to keep a job at The New York Star or how she not just landed one, but five, book deals throughout the series. Carrie’s unrealistic fantasy world would almost be forgivable if she was actually a good writer, but she’s quite close to terrible. Here’s a brief summary of why Carrie never met my expectations of a good professional writer:
1) Carrie’s Articles Constantly End in Questions
Carrie is meant to be the expert on sex and relationships, yet Carrie comes across as the most uncertain advice columnist in the world. Though forcing your readership to think is one of a writer’s major goals, a writer shouldn’t induce an existential crisis in which readers question every relationship they’ve ever been in. The questions are meant to spice up unnecessary drama, but, in the end, they just leave the reader wondering what does that even mean? Questions like “Is there a secret cold war between marrieds and singles?” and “Are men in their twenties the new designer drug?” are lazy and honestly just make me more confused about relationships than I was before. If you want to see more of Carrie’s ridiculous 92 questions (yes, 92) check out this article by Tabatha Leggett.
2) Carrie is Lazy in her Research
In the first episode of the series, Carrie interviews couples to get new perspectives on different types of relationships. Throughout the rest of the season, she at least goes out to people watch and gather inspiration for her weekly column. However, during most of the series, Carrie uses her own relationships as weekly topics. Instead of being helpful to other people, her column quickly becomes a weekly print reality show, divulging the secrets of her latest fling…
3) Carrie Exploits her Relationships for Content
… And, on that that note, Carrie shares a little too much of her personal life with her readership. Carrie nearly ruins one fling’s political career when she shares too much of her sexual experiences with a man she dubs “the handsome politico.” While Carrie thinks she does an excellent job of concealing her lovers’ identities, it doesn’t take Bill Kelley’s (aka ‘the handsome politico”) campaign managers much effort to figure out Carrie’s column is more of a tell-all than a source of helpful and innocent relationship advice. Not only does Carrie model her column after her own life, but she often publishes the gossip her friends share about their own relationships. From Charlotte’s divorce and fertility struggles, to Miranda’s unexpected pregnancy and experience with infidelity, to Samantha’s struggles with her sexual orientation and monogamy, nothing was spared from being printed in the following week’s newspaper.
4) Carrie Can’t Separate Her Work and Personal Life
Though it’s horrible that Carrie uses her real relationships as the basis of her column, at least she tries to protect her lovers’ anonymity; that is, until she starts calling her boyfriends’ by their pseudonyms in person. Carrie profiles Aleksandr Petrovsky as “The Russian,” showing she sees him as nothing but her exotic European beau who has a name she doesn’t wish to make the effort to learn how to properly pronounce. Jack Berger becomes simply “Berger,” a meaningless fling. Don’t get me started on John James Preston, more commonly known as the infamous “Mr. Big.” We don’t even learn John’s real name until the series finale, and Carrie isn’t afraid to call him by his nickname to his face. When Carrie releases her first book and John reads it, it’s no secret who is the primary subject of Carrie’s confessional-esque chapters.
5) Carrie Can’t Meet a Deadline
In the final season, Carrie constantly struggles to meet her deadlines when she trades writing time for dates with that season’s beau, “The Russian.” As she misses deadline after deadline, she eventually leaves her job at The New York Star. Carrie’s lackadaisical attitude toward deadlines during the final season really makes you wonder how many other deadlines she missed during her nearly decade-long career as a weekly columnist. With the amount of late-night club hopping does, I wouldn’t be surprised if Carrie was regularly late with her submissions.
6) Carrie is a Relationship Advice Columnist Who isn’t Good at Relationships
You’d think that a writer of a relationship advice column would be able to give good advice and live by example. In season 3, Carrie is even recruited to teach a class on how to find love, under the assumption that she would be an expert on the topic. She ends up flopping in the first class, unable to properly answer any of the attendees’ questions. When the hopeless romantics learn that Carrie, herself, has yet to find love, they realize any advice she could offer would be meaningless.
Sex and the City and Carrie’s career makes the life of a columnist look easy, filled with parties, press appearances, and abundant steamy romances. With a careful look at the reality of professional writing, it’s clear that those personal distractions may have taken a toll on the quality of Carrie’s writing. While I hope to have Carrie’s intense honesty, fearlessness, and popularity in my future, I’m certainly not looking to model my potential future writing career off hers.