March 26, 2013 at 1:56 PM ET
Candace Bushnell created Carrie Bradshaw, and Sarah Jessica Parker turned her into a cultural phenomenon. As the author of Sex and the City (the book) and the star of Sex and the City (the show), respectively, both women feel some ownership over the iconic character. Unfortunately, they seem to be in major disagreement about Carrie's latest incarnation: a teenager played by AnnaSophia Robb on The CW's Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries.
In an interview earlier this month, Parker, who turned 48 on Monday, admitted that she's "not sure" what to think about the new direction of the Sex and the City franchise.
"You know, I think it’s one of those tests of your generosity," said Parker. "[Robb] is a lovely girl and I want her to feel good about it, but it’s … odd.”
Author Bushnell, on the other hand, is thrilled with Robb's performance—and doesn't understand why Parker has an issue.
"The reality is, that’s showbiz," Bushnell, 54, tells The Daily Beast. "Sarah Jessica’s first part was somebody else’s part. She played Annie on Broadway. She understands how these things work."
Naturally, Bushnell has more of a stake in The Carrie Diaries, since she wrote the 2010 young-adult novel on which it's based. But she also believes that Robb, 19, has connected with Parker's character in a very real way.
"I love AnnaSophia. She just holds the screen. ... Sometimes I’m just taken aback. Like, wow, that is in a sense a young Sarah Jessica Parker," says Bushnell. "I know we think of a young Sarah Jessica Parker as very different, because she was in Square Pegs. But if Sarah Jessica Parker had played a 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw, I see the connection."
Maybe Sarah Jessica Parker feels like AnnaSophia Robb is replacing her—like a husband leaving his wife for a younger woman? In a sense, Bushnell confirms that fear in her interview, saying that Parker can no longer play Carrie as she was originally written.
"Look, Sarah Jessica Parker is 47. I think with the second movie, Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t be an ingenue anymore," says Bushnell, referring to the big-screen flop Sex and the City 2. "But I think they were stuck doing what the audience wanted. Realistically, a middle-aged woman who was married without children would be much more focused on her career and less focused on this Mr. Big: 'Does he love me?' ... 'Does he still not love me?' I mean, I think it was coming to the end of what they could do with the character."
Strong words. Bushnell, though, sees an alternate future for Carrie Bradshaw: one in which she channeled her ambitions into something other than writing about sex and chasing down romance. Something, for example, like running for mayor.
"It would get into some real issues of what happens when you’re part of a relationship and the woman is ambitious. What does that do to her relationship with Mr. Big?" Bushnell reflects. "To me, that would be interesting. ... In real life, it doesn’t seem realistic to me that character would be writing that column for fifteen years."
Now that we think about it, Carrie Bradshaw was sort of a perpetual teenager, consumed with fashion, boys and gossip. What would Sex and the City have been like if Carrie had gone into a different career and left the Mr. Big obsession behind? Sounds like we'll never find out, because instead of moving forward into adulthood, she's going right back to being a teenager. Maybe that's what Sarah Jessica Parker found "odd."
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.