Sex and the City Cast

Comparing ‘Sex and the City’ Characters to Their ‘The Golden Girls’ Counterparts: The 4 Main Archetypes

What ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Sex in the City’ have in common. They make use of the same character formula.

Sex and the City premiered on HBO on June 6, 1998 — thirteen years following the premiere of The Golden Girls in 1985. While the shows are starkly different on the surface — Sex unsurprisingly more risque than Golden and Golden unsurprisingly more focused on one’s third act — both shows pushed the envelope. 

The Golden Girls, though uproarious and quippy, was unfettered in its approach to discussing age discrimination, sexual harassment, LGBTQ+ issues (way before other shows dared to), the AIDS crisis, and more. Sex and the City tackled gender roles and challenged social orthodoxies while celebrating sexual liberation and female empowerment. Both shows remain at the center of cultural conversations to this day. Not to mention, the shows follow the same formula for character archetypes. 

The creator of Arrested Development, Mitchell Hurwitz, has discussed the formula both shows rely on: patriarch, matriarch, craftsman, and clown. While he, by no means, originated the formula, he has discussed it at length — noting that once you know about this quartet arrangement, you start seeing it everywhere. The parts are defined as follows: 

Patriarch: The character who typically holds a leadership role in the group and exhibits a rational approach to problem-solving. Strong-willed and responsible. Often instrumental in moving the story forward.

Matriarch: The soft and compassionate listener with a maternal instinct. A nurturer and a source of stability. 

Craftsman: One who possesses or represents skills and expertise in a particular field, and is usually focused on bettering the self.

Clown: The character responsible for comedic relief. Often funny and eccentric individuals who don’t take life too seriously. They inject levity into the storyline, where heartbreaking drama would otherwise persist. 

It’s important to note that, while using the terms “patriarch” and “matriarch,” the characters can be of any gender, as the descriptors are more about the connotations the words have come to develop socially (as opposed to the denotations). So, where do each of The Golden Girls and Sex and the City characters fall in this paradigm? 

Patriarch: Dorothy and Carrie 

Dorothy is indisputably the patriarch in The Golden Girls. She has a level head on her shoulders, while the others are off cooking up some kooky plans they’ll try to convince her to partake in. Dorothy is assertive and unafraid to speak her mind. She also, in several episodes, defends other members of the group when they may not possess the same degree of authority and resiliency that she does.

Carrie is the patriarch in Sex and the City but in a much different way. As narrator, she contextualizes a great deal of the show’s happenings and provides necessary insight into the characters’ inner lives. She is largely responsible for breaking down major character moments — and the associated consequences. Without Carrie, the show would not proceed in the same seamless fashion. She may not always be level-headed and rational, but she is the one who brings the group together, making her the leader of the pack (and thus, the patriarch).

Matriarch: Rose and Charlotte

Rose is soft-hearted and gentle. She is always striving to protect animals and even works as a grief counselor for a mental health clinic, which underscores her intrinsic desire to support others in need. Rose often operates as the emotional center of the group. She may not always boast words of wisdom, but she comes with an open heart and a plethora of St. Olaf anecdotes to connect with those who come in need of a shoulder to cry on. 

Charlotte also leads with her heart as opposed to her head. She is very aware of her own feelings and works to get to the “how does that make you feel” part of the conversations in her quartet. She also boasts traditional values and has a very strong maternal instinct. Being a wife and mother is a significant part of her storyline and self-proclaimed identity. 

Craftsman: Sophia and Miranda 

In Sophia’s case, the term “craftsman” is more metaphorical, highlighting her unique skillset and wisdom — as opposed to a particular trade. Sophia is a resourceful and inventive character, and her problem-solving skills could be best described as “crafty” — original and unorthodox, to say the least. Remember when she threw a fake wedding to satisfy her friend’s dying wish, or how about when she told Rose to make a sculpture of her face for reference in case her facelift went awry? Sofia draws from her life experiences to educate her fellow housemates, who are a few decades younger (and lacking in sagacious Sicily stories). 

Miranda is a hardworking lawyer and the first one to take a swing at a little new technology. She is an intelligent career woman committed to advancing her professional life. Realistic and practical, she is not one to dwell on the metaphysical or the intangible. She will analyze a situation and provide the most beneficial solution, making her a prototypical craftsman. Miranda demonstrates an ability to excel as a lawyer throughout the show, but she is also a friend who will spill the tea you may not be ready to hear…but need to listen to. She is skilled as both a laborer and a companion.

Clown: Blanche and Samantha

Blanche and Samantha: the sexually-liberated duo. The two unafraid to rock a red dress with a slit cut down to there. Ageism be damned! They’re feisty and fierce. They always have a flirtatious banter going, and they know how to be oh-so-open with their close friends…maybe too open. But it is due to their openness and honesty that the best jokes surface. They are equally self-aware and make for a great deal of the levity inherent to each show. Though Blanche may be subject to a bit more slut-shaming than Samantha, they both take it in stride.

Blanche is more narcissistic and self-centered than Samatha, which is also ripe for comedy, but the writers balance her unbridled selfishness with a little Southern charm. As for Samantha, the words that come out of her mouth are totally unpredictable. Not to mention, Kim Cattrall’s comedic timing and perfectly-controlled facial expressions make her one-liner deliveries simply delicious. Samantha is light-hearted amid drama and can always cut the tension in the room with a quick double entendre. You said something was “hard,” well, unfortunately, the man she had last night was not. 

About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.