Like many women out there, Sex and the City is one of my favorite shows, and binge watching is routine practice. Over the years, I’ve compared my relationships to Carrie’s, lingered over her dissections of peoples’ behaviors and soaked up her witty wordplay. But I caught an episode on E! recently, and in true Carrie fashion, I wondered something: Have the SATC girls changed?
Rather, as I’ve grown up, my opinions about each character and her lifestyle have changed. I don’t identify with the girls the way I used to, or laugh at their jokes the way I once did. Things that were once funny solicit different reactions now. Maybe I’ve changed. Maybe women have changed. But I don’t see the girls how I used to, and here’s why.
Let’s start with our heroine. Carrie, c-c-c-Carrie, has been my favorite since day one. Maybe it’s because we have the inside scoop on what she’s thinking via her inner monologue, but I always felt the closest to Carrie. We’ve seen her at her highest highs and her lowest lows. She’s vulnerable with us. She isn’t afraid to tell the truth, even if she causes a scene in the process (hi, Post-It). I’ve always identified as “a Carrie,” but as I grew older, I grew out of certain behaviors—ones Carrie never seemed to kick.
I don’t relate to Carrie as much as I once did. I wish she whined less and listened more. I wish she knew what she had when she had it. I wish she learned from the past and didn’t repeat mistakes. I wish she knew she had the ability to hurt people. I wish she put herself first more, but still knew when to put herself second. Carrie’s relationships don’t resonate with me the way they used to; maybe it’s because some of my past relationship choices still make me cringe, like hers do. She’s too little introspective, too late, but I still appreciate her honest approach and her need to explain her feelings and have them be heard.
Then there’s Samantha. The men! The facial expressions! Samantha is always stirring up some trouble. Like Carrie, she’s open and honest about her intentions, but maybe a little too honest. I used to think she was a riot, but these days when I watch SATC, I get legitimately worried about Samantha. Does she use condoms? Is she on the pill? Does she wash her sex toys? I’m happy she’s comfortable with her sexuality and it’s okay to never want to settle down, and while I understand the use of the character Samantha for comedic relief, I don’t think we should look up to her as an example of the single girl.
Powerful PR job: check. Powerful sex life: check. But only one episode about the possibility of negative STD test results that ultimately leads to Samantha having more random sex. In reality, with all of the sex she has, she probably wouldn’t be so lucky (but that doesn’t make entertaining television, now does it?). Even Miranda got Chlamydia and Charlotte got Crabs. Samantha calmed down for a bit when she was with Smith, but that just primed her for an even crazier cougar life (cue the SATC movie franchise).
Now, comic relief comes for me from a different source. Enter: Miranda. I never used to like Miranda. I was turned off by her haircut, her attitude and how mean she was to Carrie. Steve was her best redeeming quality, and I hated how she treated him most of the time. I knew the show needed a slightly off-kilter friend to make the foursome dynamic work, but I still wondered why Miranda had to be so cranky about everything. Why did the girls put up with her? Why was she such a Debbie Downer? And in time, I got my answers.
Now when I watch the show, I understand Miranda’s struggle to balance work and personal life. I applaud her success as a single working mom. I sympathize with the loss of her mother. I get her undying need to have a plan, and stick to it. Some of the highlights of the show are her short quips and impatience with jerky men. She never tries to be anything she isn’t. Everyone should have a blunt, sensible, realistic friend like Miranda.
Speaking of realistic, Charlotte is the opposite of realistic. I used to think she was adorable, but her expectations are set way too high. When I watch the first few seasons of the show, Charlotte’s head is so far up in the clouds, I want to snap her neck and keep her up there. What I used to find endearing (she’s waiting for the perfect guy!) I now find annoying (what kind of single girl makes a personalized pillow for her unborn child?). Losing Harry the first time did her some good, because it forced her to feel real feelings and ultimately end up in a real relationship with him. She eventually calmed down, maybe, but I’m sure she and Harry are raising those two little girls to be spoiled rotten princesses. The annoying part is, she’ll never learn, because she got everything she ever wanted. Oh well. This one is a lost cause.
If you’re up for a bonus round, let’s talk about Big. I used to say, I get it! Every girl has that one guy they just can’t get out of their head and keep going back to! Fast forward to now, and while I still understand why Carrie is with him, I’m not as pro-Big as I used to be. He’s a ticking time bomb and Carrie gave him too many chances. I know Carrie’s not perfect either, but we could go back and forth like this forever. Bottom line is, Big isn’t the guy I would take home to meet my family, which is probably why he’s with a girl who doesn’t have one. I’m assuming he “doesn’t do families,” which I’m not down with, and I can see him saying while cutting into a filet mignon. Parents are cool, guys.
I know Sex and the City is just a TV show, and these characters are just that: characters. They were created with extreme quirks and personality traits to balance each other out and work together on camera to create a delightful little friend group that we loved for six plus seasons. However, I still find it interesting that over time, I’ve related to them in different ways depending on where I am and what I’m doing in my own life. Right now, Miranda is pretty much my hero, minus the whole being mean to Steve thing. But maybe some day, I’ll totally get where Charlotte is coming from and name my unborn child Shayla. No promises, though.