Today I want to rant about The Carrie Diaries since the other night I decided to watch some of it. Now, I will admit it, I used to be a big Sex and the City fan, back in 2006. I watched the entire show in syndication and then I read the book. I liked the book a lot better -- it was so raw, so 90s gritty and such a downer ending. Not surprising since it was more memoir than novel.
Of course, the Sex and the City that most people know has been filtered through a sloppy, fairy tale fictional ending and then two ridiculous movies. And now, two decades after Candice Bushnell began writing her original New York Observer columns called Sex and the City, there's a CW show based on the main character aimed at preteens and teenagers.
Now, I get it. The Carrie Diaries has a Gilmore-Girls-left-a-hole-on-the-CW and antidote-to-shows-like-16-and-Pregnant vibe, in terms of presenting a main character who is both a teenaged girl and has ambitions for a career. That I get and it's commendable for the CW to offer a smart character. But in terms of her goals being fulfilled, the show is just ridiculous.
I have a similar problem with the Dan character on Gossip Girl (doesn't matter how corny, if there's a movie or TV show with a character who is a writer in it, I'm watching it. Although somehow I haven't gotten around to Californication yet...hmmm....). Anyways, in that show there's a similar phenomenon. Teenaged writer has all sorts of doors opened up to him by a story he wrote about meeting a rich girl at a party. It's published by the New Yorker! He lands internships with famous authors! The Paris Review wants him to write something for them! Huzzah!
Okay, so the problem I have all this is the unrealistic nature of it. Let's say that these characters are both prodigies, right? And let's say that they have extremely supportive friends and family and writing instruction, mentorship and guidance aplenty. All the things that I never had growing up and so they never feel as very lost as I did at their age (but I'm not bitter).
They would still be utter and complete failures. Even provided that prestigious publications like the New Yorker, the Paris Review and Interview Magazine would actually deign to publish pieces of writing that really should have stayed in their teenaged journals, it is still not realistic to portray these kids as racking up success after success with very little effort or actually work on the writing, I might add.
And why is that? Because of the great rule of all art: success equals persistence. Persistence is more important even perhaps than talent. That's a quotation from someone famous, certainly. These are terrible role models to presents to young artists. Just do what you do and you'll be published in the most important literary magazines in the world! Nevermind that Animal Farm garnered George Orwell a rejection letter! You'll never see one of those.
The bottom line for me is that raw talent is never a substitute for dedicated work and persistence. And I wish, as a young writer once upon a time, I had known that.