Before we start, I have a confession; I was never into Sex and the City (SATC) the way I think I should have been or have been made to feel like I should have been. I prefer the first movie to to the series, what I’ve watched of it so far, and absolutely loathe the second movie. Does that make me a bad person? Fine I guess it does but you should know that when it comes to pop culture I am a bit of a late bloomer. I still watch Lizzie McGuire and listen to the Backstreet Boys, I haven’t heard the new Drake single but I’m sure I’ll catch up in another couple of decades, give or take. That being said, for the release of the first SATC movie, I, along with a large group of friends played dress up and took over the west end. You should have seen us and every other woman who went to see the movie that saturday, fully dressed to the nines; shoes, corsages and pretty dresses to boot, to sit in a theatre for all of 2 hours to watch a movie. I remember shopping for this day like it was a wedding I was to be a bridesmaid in; so many corsages bought and two imitation YSL shoes from ASOS especially for the occasion, in black and gold, so I could have options. After the movie, where we cheered like maniacs- the poor boyfriends who were dragged along, God bless them as they tried to decipher Carrie and co speak, sitting there looking all confused and what not- we went for cocktails at the All Bar One in Leicester Square. One of my profile pictures on Facebook is of a group shoe shot from that day, showing off our best Carrie like shoes. Good times.
But as I’ve recently discovered or concluded? Discovered is a better word, I’m not a hardcore SATC fan. And I probably never was. I blame peer pressure. Do you know how hard it is sitting at the table during lunch break wondering what on earth my friends were talking about as they jabbered on and on about what Carrie did, what she said, WHAT SHE WORE! The shoes always came with an Oh my God (I don’t think OMG was invented then, or maybe it was and I wasn’t caught up…see what I mean?) I had to watch the damn thing, on nights I could, so as not to feel left out at the lunch table or look clueless when they talked about Big and Berger or Samantha’s sexual escapades. When I recently told a friend that I didn’t much fancy Carrie Bradshaw, she looked at me like I’d lost my damned mind, if she could drag me to the gallows to have my head chopped off she would have. Because WHO isn’t a fan of Carrie?
I mean don’t get me wrong, I get that SATC revolutionised, if I can use that word, the way women were seen on TV, talking about sex they were having without being apologetic or prudish about it. But if SATC was still going on today, it probably wouldn’t get much of a look-in because of the stiff competition it would face from the likes of Scandal, Downton Abbey, Girls etc. compared to those shows, it comes off as a shallow barrel of nothing much, with fabulous shoes and oh the sex… *docks rogue shoe thrown*. And in comparison to the likes of Olivia Pope and Lady Grantham, Carrie Bradshaw is weak and whiny *docks a handbag*
Let’s start with Carrie. I’ve no idea why she was anyone’s favourite, having suffered several episodes I can safely say she is the least favourite character of mine. (would you quit throwing things at me?!) Not sorry. I mean yes, I know she has good shoes and writes a column about her dating life in the city, and she had a book and a quirky sense of fashion and lived in an ideal studio just up the road from Bergdorfs, Barneys, Bendels etc but my goodness was she needy. She could hardly afford the shoes she owned much less eat proper food. I doubt she was getting paid enough to live in Manhattan and afford her rent and good shoes at the same time, but the world of SATC is all fiction isn’t it? Women shouldn’t actually expect a Carrie like situation to happen to them should they? Yet they do. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard, why can’t my life be like Carrie Bradshaw’s I won’t be a millionaire but I’d probably be able to afford a Birkin or two by now. Carrie was needy, at times selfish and with a bad taste in men. Burger? Berger? with the post-it break up note. Classy. Aidan, whom I actually didn’t mind, save for the mullet and very bad fashion sense…okay maybe I minded a bit, but they got engaged and she wore the ring on her neck as some sort of statement? Whatever Carrie. My favourite was the Russian but he was too much of a suave man for her anyway and she was way out of her league with him. Don’t even get me started on the whole Big thing. Ugh! Talk about settling for less. The back and forth between them gave me such a migraine, she was so damn desperate to get him hooked on her and he was just not worth the trouble clearly, considering he ditched her at the alter in the movie because he had some sort of carthasis that led to a freak out; what an idiot. Sorry, but Big was not all that. At all. What exactly did she see in him? Why would she want to be with a man who constantly flaked out on her. And he talked to her like she was a child; he even called her “kiddo”. He was a complete dud in the second movie too. I guess they deserve each other considering he cheated on his wife with her and she slept with a married man. How damn tacky. All there was to Carrie was her shoe collection and maybe the column she writes which, if it were real, would have been appealing to read. Beyond that I can’t say she stood for anything else.
Charlotte York; the watered down version of Carrie Bradshaw. Her tag should read; Desperately seeking husband. All she wanted to do was get married and have babies so much so, I’m sure a homeless man would have been fine for her. And what exactly was her day job? Something or other at an art gallery, if I recall, but she was never there! Of the four women, she was the least memorable because her story-lines got swallowed in wanting to play mommy and me, and fleeting from one husband material to the next, with WASP uniform of twin sets and circle skirts straight from the housewives of the 50s. Oh Charlotte, sweet simple Charlotte, the one who’s left off to one corner, whose light dims in comparison to the other characters. She walks around as if her world is a constant perfect dream wrapped up in sprinkles and rainbows. About the only thing of substance that happened to Ms York was that she married her bald, sweaty divorce lawyer, (that sweat scene made me cringe) who was someone she never in a million years thought she’d end up with. Neither did we. Before him there was Trey who couldn’t get it up and his pinched mother with the stiff upper lip who thought Charlotte was no good for her son. Back in high school I’m sure Charlotte would’ve been captain of the cheerleading squad or the smug head of the student body with long luscious hair and all the boys would have had a crush on her except of course she’d date from the pool of her kind; the trust funded Ivy league bound kid. With perfect hair no less. Fast froward several years later, Charlotte will still be riding on her pretty but she’ll substitute for the safe one in the group of more diverse and fun friends…oh wait a minute she is. She did have flashes of depth especially when she and Harry, are trying to have children, or when they tackle the issue of her being a shiksa hence he is tepid on marriage to her, a side that informed us there was more to Charlotte than twin sets and pearls. Sadly she disappeared too quickly.
Then there’s Miranda. A more relatable and well rounded character, Miranda is attuned to the real world and how life works. She is not frivolous Carrie who has no trouble spending half her rent on shoes, neither is she Charlotte, desperately seeking husband. She’s comfortable in her skin. She didn’t always have the most glamourous situations or the pitch perfect style, she was a lawyer who got knocked up after having unprotected sex with a bartender whom she happens to kinda sorta, eventually really liked enough to forgive his infidelity after marrying her. Idiot Steve. Miranda is astute and a hard worker, we don’t really know much of her background, or that of any of the other characters for that matter, but there is something about her, she’s a no fuss, no frills woman who is trying to get by raising her child. She shows motherhood is no walk in the park, Brady cries and cries. Oi vey! She is not one of those mothers who is glamourous twenty-four-seven, her character is sometimes in pj pants and baby sullied t-shirts and her guilty pleasure is good old, tabloid trash. She couldn’t be more real. She is a working single mother, for a time, who is just trying to find a balance between her career and personal life, on top of being there for her son. Sometimes she gets it, other times she doesn’t and that’s just life. There are so many layers to her character and she is often the voice of reason for the quartet. She gained maximum points for the way she handled Steve’s alzheimer’s ridden mother, as difficult as the situation got it was one of the most compelling times on the show. She is not afraid to be vulnerable when she has to be. Miranda keeps it real and you have to love her for it.
And this leads me to Samantha. We started the episodes with Carrie’s voice but we went to bed thinking and dreaming about Samantha Jones. As one person said on twitter, she is the friend you are calling at 2am and you know she’ll be there for you no matter what; she dropped her busy life in LA, organised for all of them to go away with Carrie after being jilted at the altar because that’s just so Samantha Jones. She’ll teach you all the bad things too. Yes she has sex, she put the SEX in Sex and the City, no doubt, but she was also a fearlessly ambitious woman who had no trouble following love to L.A, to help launch her boyfriends’ career and set up her PR firm there in the process. She battles breast cancer and loses all her hair, the wig tossing scene was just so epically Samantha. Save for the brilliance of the writers, her character could’ve bored us to death because it was so one dimensional and easily predictable but they gave her layers infused with the Samantha Jones snark and it worked effortlessly, we couldn’t stop thinking about her. She didn’t coast on her sexual prowess though she had it by the pound, she was a go getter who didn’t give a damn about rules or norms, and she spoke her mind quite frequently, damning the consequences. Her life was on her terms and boy she gave us lots of laughs with her lines; “I’m dating a guy with the funkiest tasting spunk” she once said to her friends over lunch with a straight face, and it made me spurt water from my nose. How can you not love someone like that.
However, with the high heels now hung up and with re-runs and box sets to remember the days by, I guess Sex and the City spun a tale of friendship amongst women and it sparked the freedom revolution. It was good to see such camaraderie between women who didn’t want to screw each other over in the name of getting ahead. It showed a complexity in the feminine make up; our needs exceed pretty heels, no matter how many shoes Carrie had, and it bags. Those are just war armour. Life being the battlefield. More importantly, it showed the intricacies of Love; its not as its cracked up to be in the movies, Love can be a bitch at the best of times and relationships are messy but your happily ever after is what you make of it.
I served my penance, I watched enough episodes and I remain unconvinced that in today’s highly competitive TV, Sex and the City would have held a candle to what we have on TV right now. Maybe reality TV, but even so that is a stretch, most are far too interested in the dramatic “real” lives of others than the complexities of fictional characters; see how long the Kardashians have lasted. Sex and the City did its time and for that time it was right but I now understand why I just wasn’t that into it. I’m not the only one am I?