Sex and the City, and Why — Sadly — It Matters

by Stephanie Janiczek
Clash Daily Contributor

get-attachment 2Ok, I’ll admit to being a fan of Sex and the City. When I first started watching it I was like so many young women drawn to the glamour of New York, the strange fairy tale world of men, fashion and drama that Carrie Bradshaw and her three friends, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbes lived in. It seemed New York City was the Holy Grail for women to find love, and labels. The labels meaning Gucci, Prada and Chanel.

I am working through the series again, almost ten years later and I am now in a place where I can safely say that these women were really bad people. The chew and chats, where Carrie and her friends sat around eating brunch, lunch or dinner and dishing about their personal lives were not in depth discussions about real issues, in fact these chew and chats were an expose into the self-centeredness, and neurosis of each individual.

The only character I can say that did not come off as a hypocrite is Samantha Jones, played by Kim Catrall. When John Preston, aka Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth describes Samantha as trouble it’s a fact. She is trouble. Maybe troubled with her single minded pursuit of sex. She is terrified of commitment and treats men like disposable wipes. But she never really changes. Even when she tries to mature into an adult woman by staying with her boyfriend, Smith Jerrod the movie star, she realizes monogamy and being with one person forever isn’t for her and she admits it. Granted she’s amoral and vile but she’s honest about it. Of course she thinks she’s ok but the theory I have with her being a very personally troubled woman in need of serious help from a counselor is proved correct.

Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker is a narcissistic, selfish woman. She’s a writer for a fictional newspaper called the New York Star and the bits that we get to hear of her column are poorly written – fit for TMZ but not explaining the cultural zeitgeist of the late 90’s/early 2000s. But this is TV so we take what we can get.

She loves her shoes, her clothes, her purses and jewelry. She has an offbeat sense of style that sometimes works and sometimes makes a person wonder out loud, You are wearing that? Seriously?

She’s funny, and while she’s very into herself she’s also kind, so while you want to hate her you can’t. That’s the hard thing about Sex and the City: I think Carrie is a pretty awful woman, and not just for the reasons of her obsession with fashion and shallow writing; she treats men badly. She gets treated badly and never once asks, “Maybe it is me”; and if she does ask that question that epiphany lasts one episode and then it is back to dating disasters.

In reality Carrie Bradshaw would never have finally landed Mr. Big. Big’s a smart savvy guy and could have any woman he wanted. He’s fascinating and Chris Noth does a great job as Big. Big’s a very rational man. Carries a very irrational woman and that never changes for her from the TV shows to both movies. If she was a real woman she’d be alone.

Charlotte York played by Kristen Davis is a cartoon of the good girl. Of course she dates and gets hurt but she’s always looking for Mr. Right. Her Mr. Right would be an investment banker with a multimillion dollar stock portfolio. She does marry Mr. Right, Dr. Trey MacDougal. Trey played by Kyle MacLachlan is the scion of a wealthy New York family, but he’s not Mr. Perfect as Charlotte discovers. Charlotte discovers marrying a man too soon isn’t always a good idea and in the next year or so pushes Trey so hard to have a baby that they end up divorced.

Charlotte has all the right ideas but she goes about her search for a husband in the wrong way. She’s the least egregious of the characters, but the biggest problem with her is she’s not very bright. When she does marry her divorce lawyer Harry Goldenblatt, she not only gives up her faith, she becomes someone she’s not. She does this for him. Harry loves her for being who she is but he selfishly won’t marry her unless she leaves Christianity. Charlotte, who has no self-respect, does just that. For some reason that whole debate bothers me. Does a woman really have to drop her entire identity to find love? Really? We’re doing this now? I don’t think so.

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