This is Big. Or rather, Carrie before Big. Ahhh that scene in the first ever Sex and the City episode when she’s walking down the street, they collide, and her bag falls to the ground, scattering condoms. He kneels (he kneels!) and picks one up. It’s what dreams are made of.
I say dreams because I’ve been carrying condoms, in a range of sizes and flavours, around in my bag for the last few days (we don’t just review books, you know), and no one has bumped into me. Which has made it hard (pun definitely not intended) to review the wretched things.
‘How do you write a condom review?’ my friend asked me the other day. I can only imagine her parents went down the Immaculate Conception route.
‘‘I’ll let you know in 9 months’?’ The blind leading the immaculately conceived.
That’s roughly how long ago it was that we first heard the green light had been given to a SATC prequel; an event against which I can’t help feeling stricter precautions ought to have been taken. I’ll reserve judgment until after I haven’t seen The Carrie Diaries – the only option for a die-hard SATC fan – but based on what I’ve read thus far, I’m sceptical.
The other day I happened upon an article, by a journalist who admitted to not having been a fan of the original series, citing SATC’s main strength as the ‘charmingly frank way’ in which it addressed female sexuality. The journalist goes on to say that this was made possible though the flexibility of HBO, before pointing out the comparative constraints of The CW, the network behind The Carrie Diaries. The CW is clearly attempting to push the boundaries; one of the characters likens having sex for the first time to ‘putting a hot dog in a keyhole’, an analogy which achieves the Herculean task of making Samantha Jones sound classy. I don’t know about you, but hearing that line only made the decision not to watch the prequel, which airs in January 2013, a whole lot easier.
Then there’s the fact that Blake Lively will not be playing Carrie. (She’s tied up with other projects.) Say what you like against SJP, there’s no denying that she makes a fabulous clothes horse; similarly, Lively, as Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl, pulls off outfits which on paper – and in reality – are just plain wrong. Both actresses command your attention: you want to see what they’re going to be wearing next, if only so that you can make a mental note never to take the same sartorial risk and wind up looking like a condom.
The actress chosen to fill SJP’s shoes is more in the vein of My Little Pony. AnnaSophia Robb – you might know her from Soul Surfer, you might not – is your quintessential cute blonde, the kind of actress you have to feel sorry for because her perfectly symmetrical, eminently forgettable looks mean she will never get the interesting parts. Or will she? Looking at Robb, it’s hard to imagine her growing into the slightly cynical, neuroses-ridden journalist (lest you forget, Carrie has a job, albeit not the kind with which any of us are familiar) with whom viewers enjoy a love-hate relationship. Lucky then that Josh Schwarz (of Gossip Girl and The O.C.) is on hand to break her in. No one does emotional trauma for teenagers like Schwarz; I only hope he can improve on mustard spillage at a pretzel stand, shots of which hit the web last week whilst the cast was filming in New York.
That’s another thing; you’d never see the characters in the television series spilling mustard on their carefully mismatched outfits. The closest the franchise has come to including a slapstick element of this kind to date, is Charlotte’s memorable bout of food poisoning in the first film. (There may well be more of this kind of thing in the second; nothing would induce me to go and see it.) And what a success that was. One big draw of the TV series is its escapist quality. Carrie is rarely seen working, yet never wears the same outfit twice; and she eats out constantly, whilst maintaining a perfectly toned physique. ‘It’s my cardio’, she says of shopping, when Miranda suggests she tries buying online. Whatever. ‘I will never be the woman with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it,’ Carrie tells us, comparing herself to Big’s new wife, Natasha. Perhaps not all the time, but when she does wear white, it remains condiment-free.
Perhaps eating gracefully is one of many valuable life lessons she will learn in the course of The Carrie Diaries; and perhaps, if I do see it, I will love the show in spite of myself. The recent films have cast a shadow over a favourite television series; so wouldn’t it be nice, fabulous even, to end on a high, back where it all began?