Brow Beat

Meet the New Carrie Bradshaw

According to episode 308 of Sex and the City (“The Big Time”), Carrie Bradshaw lost her virginity to a guy named Seth Bateman when she was in the eleventh grade. “Half a joint, three thrusts, finito,” she tells Charlotte. “And P.S.: it was on the ping-pong table.” But in  The Carrie Diaries , a new novel by Candace Bushnell, young Carrie still hasn’t gone all the way in the twelfth grade. “I don’t like to think of myself as a ‘virgin,’” the 17-year-old narrator says to her friend Maggie. “I prefer to think of myself as ‘sexually incomplete.’ You know. Like I haven’t finished the course yet.”

As a fan, I found the rewriting of Carrie’s sexual history rather aggravating. Granted,  The Carrie Diaries  is technically a prequel to Bushnell’s original book version of Sex and the City rather than the TV series. Yet the publicity campaign surrounding The Carrie Diaries  has been intentionally vague on this point the blurb on the front flap says that we’ll meet Carrie “before Sex and the City ” without specifying which incarnation of Sex and the City . A press release for the book also calls Carrie  “one of the most iconic characters of our generation, adored by millions of readers and viewers,” implying that the prequel could depict the character as she appears in either the book or the series. Besides, if Bushnell wants to appeal to fans of the show (and surely she does) she should have made her Carrie compatible with Sarah Jessica Parker’s.

The age at which Carrie loses it isn’t the only example of the novel contradicting the TV series. Here’s a list:

- According to Episode 417, “A ‘Vogue’ Idea,” Carrie’s father left her mother when she was five years old. (“Why did he leave?” asks Julian, an editor at Vogue . “No idea. Never said,” Carrie curtly replies.) The heroine of The Carrie Diaries , however, has a father but no mother. Mrs. Bradshaw died of cancer when Carrie was 13.

- No mention of Carrie’s siblings was ever made on Sex and the City , but the literary Carrie has two younger sisters named Dorrit and Missy. To be fair, the show was pretty bad about continuity when it came to this sort of thing; in Episode 215, “Shortcomings,” Charlotte’s brother Wesley came to visit her (and, of course, ended up having sex with Samantha). Wesley was never mentioned again-he didn’t even attend either of Charlotte’s weddings.

- TV Carrie had one boyfriend in high school: Jeremy, played by David Duchovny in Episode 610, “Boy, Interrupted.” The Carrie Diaries revolves around Carrie’s relationship with mysterious bad boy Sebastian Kydd. This Carrie also says she’s had two other major boyfriends before: “Sam, who was a stoner, and Doug, who was on the basketball team.” Jeremy isn’t a character in the book.

Sex and the City  never bothered to give much background information for any of its protagonists: the point of the show was to examine dating and friendship broadly rather than to create particularly well-rounded characters. Still, fans of the series have a right to feel indignant about the fact that Candace Bushnell totally ignored those few bits of back story while writing The Carrie Diaries -especially if she intended to aim this book at them.

[ Correction: April 28, 2010: This post originally stated that The Carrie Diaries is a prequel to the TV series Sex and the City . The book is actually a prequel to the book off of which the series is based, also called Sex and the City . ]