My (Belated) Love Affair With Sex and the City

For the longest time, I couldn’t stand Sex and the City, the show from which I took the quote at the top of my blog. I didn’t think it was that funny, and I though Carrie was annoying. But last summer, all of a sudden I got into it. I think I just reached a certain point in my life where I’d heard enough hookup and relationship stories that I could see people I knew in the show, and I could find it funny.

And I could see why so many other girls are into it. It’s kind of like the show for women of my generation. And why not? I know that for years, women have had to struggle against the idea of existing only to find a man, which is what this show was all about. But the truth is, women really do sit around discussing their love lives. We have careers, we have dreams, we have independence—but we still love to talk about guys. We analyze guys’ behavior, we discuss the pros and cons of different men, we debate what constitutes a deal-breaker. Some women might see it as sexist or stereotypical, but honestly, I think it’s just accurate.

It’s interesting, though, that this is the show that spawned He’s Just Not That Into You (aka my relationship BIBLE), because although that philosophy found its way into one episode, if the girls had followed the advice of Greg Behrendt, there’d be no show. Mr. Big would have been history after the first episode.

Mr. Big is also one reason why Carrie is my least favorite character. I’ve seen every episode now, and I absolutely cannot stand Big. I think he’s an arrogant, inconsiderate jackass—not to mention completely unattractive. I loved Aidan, though—he was a sweetheart who put up with way too much shit from Carrie, whom I completely lost respect for when she cheated on Aidan with Big.

But the thing is—that is realistic. There are, unfortunately, too many Carrie Bradshaws in the world, women who have an idea of what they want but don’t like it when they finally get it. Women who chase after what they can’t have when they have something great right in front of them. Women who aren’t happy in a relationship unless there’s drama, and worry when there isn’t drama. I know people like that. So do you. And I’d like to think that I would never act like that…but in reality, I can’t say for sure.

The interesting thing about Sex and the City is that we see it as both a reality and a fantasy. Over 94 episodes, four women engaged in about every relationship, dating, and sexual situation that exists. There’s no way you couldn’t see yourself or one of your friends in at least one of those situations. Plus, girls who watch the show tend to compare themselves to the four main women. I used to think I was a Charlotte, but now I think Miranda. And I definitely have friends who remind me of Carrie, Samantha, and Charlotte.

But how many of us have luxury apartments in Manhattan and clothes right off the runway? How many of us have jobs like Carrie’s that only require one column a week, leaving us free to walk around the city all day? How many of us manage to go out with our friends every weekend? How many of us have the chance to meet the sheer number of guys on the show, let alone date them? Every time I watch this show, I want to be a rich New Yorker, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

But it’s a fantasy in other ways, too. Take, for instance, Samantha, who, according to Carrie, “had the kind of deluded self-confidence that caused men like Ross Perot to run for president, and it usually got her what she wanted.” In nearly every episode, Samantha sees a man she’s never met, decides she wants him, and goes after him, almost always successfully. We’ve all wanted to be in that situation, but how many of us actually have the self-confidence to do it?

We see ourselves in the Sex and the City characters, but we also see what we wish we could be. We see the lifestyle we dream about having but probably never will. And even though in reality, he’s probably just not that into us, we still hold onto that hope that in the end, we’ll ask him to come up, and he’ll smile, and his answer will ring in our ears forever: “Abso-fuckin’-lutely.”

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