Friday, June 14, 2013

Debunking the Carrie Bradshaw Fantasy


We are not all Carrie Bradshaw. We're not Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda either. Our lives are not television shows- not fantasy. I am sure this is not news to anybody. But the big reveal of adulthood is perhaps this: we don't want to be them either- because, really, high heels are inconvenient and sometimes make me feel like a hooker. (And not in a Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman kind of way.) Also, Big is kind of a douche. THERE. I SAID IT. Truthfully, as I am nearing an age where I finally have to start calling myself a "woman" instead of a "girl," I am coming to terms with the fact that shows like Sex and the City should not be filed under the "TV- Romantic Comedy" section of Netflix, but rather the "TV- Fantasy" section. Even more bizarre is the realization that reality is so much better than this so called fantasy.

Last year, I read an article written by Julia Allison and Julia Price for the New York Post that caused an eye roll so epic that I still remember it today, fifteen months later. (I'm an emotional pack rat.) One sentence stuck, in particular- "Every woman comes to New York to be Carrie." Cue the epic eye roll, once again. Could you just vomit? I mean, really. As a girl who moved to New York City at 18-years-old, not knowing a single person in the tri-state area to attend New York University, I can safely assure you- I did NOT want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Nor did my roommates or the girls I worked with or any of the girls in my Freshman year orientation group. No girl (with an IQ high enough to get into NYU, or Columbia or Barnard, etc.) legitimately believes that she can afford a spacious apartment on the Upper East Side and a shoe collection that rivals that of Cher Horowitz on money made from a tiny newspaper column about sex. Really, it's LOL-worthy. Not only that, but I happen to believe that none of my fellow cohorts at my dorm freshman year (or sophomore year for that matter) would have been satisfied by the lifestyle portrayed in the TV show. Life can not solely consist of brunch dates with gal pals, shopping, extravagant purchases, mind-numbingly dull dates and occasionally "working." It sounds more than a little frivolous to me. 

When I moved to New York, nearly every student I met at NYU wanted to do something great with their lives- become doctors, nurses, run companies, direct movies, work for non-profits. Had I even mentioned the name "Carrie Bradshaw" in my journalism classes, I most likely would have been laughed out of class, if not the major entirely. She is the Voldemort of journalism. She-who-must-not-be-named. (I later switched out of journalism, but not because of Carrie Bradshaw. That would just be weird.) In college, I encountered some of the smartest most intriguing people I've met to this day. People full of dreams, ambitions and usually a little bit of social ineptitude. Just how I like 'em. And I'd like to think that they would all be as offended as I am at the notion that we moved to New York to be Carrie Bradshaw, and stifle a giggle at anyone who believes that her life is anything close to attainable or fulfilling.

All of that being said, I do happen to love Sex and the City and can quote nearly every episode. But I also really loved Rugrats when I was little and watched it every single day. And yet, that doesn't mean I believe in talking babies, or a world where Manolo Blahnik's are weekly purchases. Yes, it is easy to watch shows like Sex and the City and Keeping Up with the Kardashians and get wrapped up in the lifestyle of it all. But for what? Television is supposed to be entertainment and an escape from reality, not a mold from which to structure our lives. I certainly hope we don't live in a world where girls moving to New York legitimately want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I hope (and believe) that they want to be Gloria Steinem, Christiane Amanpour, and Maureen Dowd. Or, if it must be a woman from television, at least Olivia Pope from Scandal. Substantial, impactful women who work hard and whose lives have purpose. This purpose, of course, can be anything, not just journalism or politics. Perhaps you want to be the next Tina Fey (if so, let's be best friends), or the next Stella McCartney (again, best friends), or the next Julia Child (ok, srsly- BFFs.) No matter what the goal, the important thing is to wildly pursue it, through the pitfalls and the insecurities, the ups and the downs, the sleepless nights and the constant questioning, never minding at all that it doesn't look a damn thing like what they show on TV.

As for me- I'll take the reality over the fantasy any day. Flats, a sale rack dress from Target and a sincere worry that I might not even make rent next month, especially if I keep on giving in to what is apparently my new life mantra, "It's Wednesday, this calls for margaritas!" But I'll figure it out. I always do. Life is messy and it is not a television show. We should all be fighting the notion (whether it be internal or external) that our lives should be anything other than messy and complicated. I want more than a collection of high heels, damn it. I want an exciting, exhilarating, terrifying, imperfect life. Screw the fantasy.

I leave you with this brilliant piece of writing by Aaron Sorkin, from "The Greater Fool", the finale of Season 1 of The Newsroom, as brilliantly delivered by Allison Pill, who plays Maggie Jordan, screaming at a Sex and the City bus tour*:

"I'm a typical single woman in New York City! I don't wear heels to work because the typical woman's job doesn't exclusively involve gallery openings. And I know Carrie must have made boatloads writing her 800-word column for a newspaper no one's ever heard of but I just spent my last seven dollars having a fight with my best friend who, by the way, is not available at 3:00 p.m. on a Wednesday to console me about some guy, because she, too, has a job. And mostly, when you fall for a guy and he's going out with your best friend, it doesn't work out. Things get really bad."

*If you don't watch The Newsroom, you really, really should. It's chock-full of powerful, impactful women who give amazing speeches that, more often than not, make me want to lead some sort of crusade against some sort of injustice or kerfuffle. Hence, this post.

image via

17 comments:

  1. I am just like you - I adore SatC and could quote the majority of it while drunk off champagne on my couch with my best friend and totally enjoying ourselves - but it is not what we aspired to be. We are both working our way up our career ladders because we want more in life than being able to afford expensive shoes and date a douche (agree, big is a douche). I love this post because you tell it like it is and yet you still love SatC <3

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    1. Thank you!!! I have to be honest- I was a little afraid people might take this piece the wrong way. But thank you for "getting it" :)

      Also, quoting SatC while drunk on champagne on your couch sounds amazingly awesome.

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  2. I love your posts so much! They totally make my day.

    Christen
    feathers and ash

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  3. You're great and I miss you (and Bagel Bob's).

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    1. OMG YOU'RE great, and I miss YOU and Bagel Bob's. Srsly, maybe the best bagels in the world. I'll challenge anyone who says otherwise. (LA does NOT have good bagels. And even if we did, I'm pretty sure no one here (except for me) would actually eat said bagels because ummmm hello carbs.)

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  4. Carmen, I read your blog all the time but rarely comment but I had to this time. I love this post so much. SO MUCH. I think it is the best you have ever written. Amen amen amen! Real life is so much better than fantasy. "I want an exciting, exhilarating, terrifying, imperfect life." You said it right. THANK YOU for writing this! have a fabulous saturday, woman!

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    1. Ahhh your comment just MADE my Saturday. Thank you so much, Katie!!

      xoxo

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  5. I've also switched out of journalism (not because of Bradshaw) and feel so much happier now. Anyway, great post. I do love a good episode of Sex and the City, but I don't feel it's very realistic at all. Haha, just entertaining.
    Liz
    http://liz-makes.blogspot.com

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  6. So solid! I can relate - I moved to Boston to go to school and while it doesn't have the same sparkle thrown on it as NYC, it definitely was something I had to get used to. I'm anticipating a move to LA eventually so I can pursue label management and I know that that's not gonna be rainbows and ponies either. That's what's awesome!!! Being stoked to be yelled at and get coffee for people you hate...while working toward a job you love! Make any sense? Maybe a little...

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  7. This has to be one of my favorite posts! And on top of thats its also very helpful topic for newbies. Thanks a lot for informative information!
    Travesti

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  8. Lovely post! Real life is a lot more different than fantasy and if we stop dreaming that we might actually "become" Carrie, we might become who we're supposed to be. High heels or not. :)
    xxx,
    Lilla
    http://lilycupcake.blogspot.com

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  9. i think this post is super annoying. no one ever said life was going to be like a television show, or movie for that matter. you cannot compare tv to reality. thats common sense. so this whole rant about how it's dumb that they show carrie bradshaw never working and getting expensive things and going out constantly with her friends.... is pointless. if you thought for a minute that your life could possibly be as simple as hers (minus the dating drama).. your obviously delusional. its a show... relax.

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  10. So I some how stubbled upon your blog, no idea how (classic blog surfing) but oh my goodness I am so glad I did!

    I seriously think this is one of the best blog posts I have ever read! So much truth and honesty and reflection of real life! I love your writing and am so glad I read the whole post!!

    Ngaio xx

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! It's lovely hearing from you :)