A Significant Human Experience: Frenemies
A Take on Candace Bushnell’s The Carrie Diaries
by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco
“A character? Is that good or bad? I mean, what kind of guy falls in love with a character?”
Carrie Bradshaw is an interesting character. Although most people know her in the Sex and the City as a witty columnist, shoe-a-holic, and definitely a keeper, she is not as strong in The Carrie Diaries. In fact, her characterization is very similar to that of Steph in How to be Popular, Mia in the Princess Diaries and Allison in Pretty Little Liars. They all start as this pretty girls who seem not have a mirror at home and unaware of how pretty they are. They all have journals, their own cliques, and almost surprisingly, they also get the handsome guys (most are jocks or basketball players). However, one thing that makes Carrie remarkable is she doesn’t get hold of the guy for a long time and she also has issues with no other than her best friend but doesn’t realize it until the end of the novel.
Carrie is not a popular member of the crowd. Her lunch table is surrounded by a couple from different parts of the universe who fall in love with each other, a gay, a nerd, and her best friend, Lali. She does not interact with the cheerleaders and the student government officers. In fact, she subtly works her way against them. She prefers hanging around in the library, perusing books and magazines and participating in swimming competitions with Lali.
Frenemies is a usual topic of American bildungsroman novel. You have one character who is so pure, perfect, and innocent, add another who stands as the best friend. You put them in one dimension, add a character (usually male) and trigger a competitive atmosphere. Carrie and Lali are in this kind of relationship.
The novel is littered with Carrie recognizing minute details in Lali’s behavior but she doesn’t do anything against it. Once, she catches Lali smirking while she is trying to fix her family relationship. There is also a time when Lali hides Carrie’s clothes just for fun or as her excuse ‘punish’ Carrie for being so competitive. The turning point of their relationship is when Carrie catches Lali kissing Sebastian (Carrie’s boyfriend).
There are many jerks in the world very similar to Sebastian Kydd who will throw a good relationship away for sex. It is not surprising to encounter one. What is more surprising is having a snake of a friend and not being able to detect it. It’s pretty clear that Lali and Sebastian have done something fishy but Carrie decides to punish her former boyfriend than talk with her former best friend. She only says “You only love him more than you love me.”
Given the ages of the characters in the novel, I guess it is only natural for them to give their trust to someone they have known for a long time. However, the quality of friendship is not tantamount to the number of years you spend together. My idea of friendship is it is a relationship of equals. No one is supposed to lead the other unless that friendship unites a clique where people fall into different categories that they wholeheartedly accept and perform. A competition in this relationship is inevitable but not encouraged. Carrie and Lali’s relationship may work for teenagers when one can immediately change his or her best friend in a snap but it does not work that way in the real world. Lali may have received her karma when Sebastian makes out with her younger sister but Carrie should have made an extra step and that is to give her best friend a lesson: there’s always someone better out there.